State's Only Native Sport Would Be Ducky Choice


Which Of These 3 Should Be Maryland's Official Sport?

December 29, 1991|By Donald G. Vitek

"Why should (the official state sport) be any other sport but duckpins?" asks Joe Rineer of Mount Airy Lanes. "This is the only sport that was born in Maryland."

Ken Frock of County Lanes in Westminster,who has been associated with tenpin bowling most of his life, still thinks "a lot more people in Maryland are involved with duckpin bowling than jousting. It just makes sense that duckpin bowling become thestate sport."

Karen Wisner of the Hampstead Bowling Center said, "It would be great if duckpins were to become the Maryland state sport."

And Jody Abend of Thunderhead Lanes in Westminster notes that "at least everybody knows what duckpins are."

So why shouldn't duckpin bowling be the state sport? It's the only sport that started here, flourished here and still is played in Maryland in 50 duckpin centers. And it's reached out to other states: Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

Last year, about 9.5 million games of duckpin were bowled. I believe you will find that figure a bit higher than the number ofjousting matches that took place -- or the number of lacrosse games played. Oh yes, lacrosse boosters have tried, unsuccessfully, to havelacrosse replace jousting.

You didn't know that in 1962, joustingbecame the state sport? You don't know what jousting is?

That's understandable, if you don't happen to be one of the approximately 300jousters. That's not 300 in Carroll County; nor is that 300 in Maryland. That's 300 in the country. That's it: 300, count 'em.

That's just about how many bowlers will show up for a Saturday afternoon tournament at any county duckpin center. Some of Carroll's duckpin leagues have more than 300 members.

Approximately 250,000 people in Maryland bowl duckpins. And remember that duckpin bowling started in Maryland -- unlike jousting or that other sport sometimes touted as deserving state sport status.

About the turn of the century, John McGraw and Wilbur Robinson, Baltimore Orioles International League baseball stars at the time, whittled down a few tenpin bowling balls and tenpins to add variety to the games offered at their establishment, Diamond Alleys in Baltimore. Sun sportswriter Bill Clark coined the term"duckpin" after some bowlers commented that the flying pins resembled a flock of flying ducks.

Jousting started in the Europe when twoarmored knights on horseback would try to knock each other off theirmounts using lances. Today, jousting is a pale imitation of the original sport. Jousters today attempt to lance a ring.

"You sure don't have to buy a horse to bowl duckpins," said Kathy Williams, president of the Women's Baltimore Professional Duckpin Association and ace duckpin bowler. "That's more than you can say about the current official state sport.

"Everyone can compete in duckpins, there's a level of competition for every level of ability."

As for lacrosse, it did not originate in Maryland.

Nothing against lacrosse, mind you,but we're not going to get too excited about a bunch of people running around in short pants, hacking away at each other with sticks thathave little crab nets on the end.

Think about it. The family is sitting around the fireplace on a snowy December day. Dad turns to Momand the kids and says, "Let's get our lacrosse sticks, pick up grandmother and grandfather, drive over to the lacrosse center and beat upon each other. Grandmother can be the goalie."

Or, "Let's rent a few horses, some lances, maybe some spurs and head for the jousting center."

Jousting center? Sure, just call telephone information andask for the nearest jousting field.

How about expenses? Duckpin bowling is easy. You can rent everything you need to bowl duckpins fora few dollars; buying the equipment you need could go as high as $100 per person.

Horses, however, can be a problem to rent, and if you buy them, you've got to feed them.

And it's extremely difficult to shove a couple of horses in a bag, unlike duckpin bowling balls and shoes, the only equipment you need.

Don't ask where you stick the lance.

You can rent a duckpin bowling lane by the game, sometimes by the hour, for a few bucks. I never could get a price on renting a lacrosse field.

And I never did find a jousting center.

If you have better luck and do find one, be careful walking around. Horses, you know.

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