On Feb. 8, Tony Williamson of Aberdeen joined the ranks of bowlers who have made what's known as the Big Split -- the near-impossible 7-10 pin split.
Tony, 13, an eighth-grader at Aberdeen Middle School,was bowling in the Middle School League at Harford Lanes in Aberdeenwhen the 7-10 popped up.
"I hit the 10 pin on the inside and it came off the sideboard androlled over into the seven pin," the 120-plus average tenpin bowler said. "I was lucky."
There may be an element of luck in making anydifficult spare shot, but somebody still has to throw the ball. So Tony deserves to bathe in the spotlight.
It doesn't take a bowler very long to figure out that the most difficult split they'll ever seeon the lanes is the Big Split. Most bowlers, at one time or another have stared at the 7-10 split with a feeling of hopelessness.
Today, many years after the event, people still talk about Mark Roth, theprofessional bowler, converting the 7-10 on national television for the first time. Mark is one of the all-time great professional bowlers, has won a bunch of titles, is a Hall-of-Famer, and is second on the money list. But mention his name in a bowling crowd, and what people remember him best for is making the 7-10 split.
Another young bowler to keep our eyes on is Adam Barnard, who lives in Havre de Grace with his mother, Nancy, his dad, Eddie, and his older brother, Jason.
This is a bowling family.
Nancy carries a 180 average; Eddie has a 206; and Jason, 16, has a 195 average.
"Both Eddie and Jason have 300 games," Nancy said. "I'm still looking for my 300."
Adam, 10, is still looking for his 300 game, too, but it's not goingto take very long for Adam to throw it.
The fifth-grader at Havrede Grace Elementary school is averaging 154 in two leagues, the Saturday Morning Youth League and the Wednesday Scratch League at HarfordLanes, and he won the Coca-Cola Tournament regional event at HarfordLanes recently.
On Feb. 15, Adam, a prep bowler in the Young American Bowling Alliance, threw games of 179, 159 and an awesome 236 fora fantastic career-high series of 574.
It should be very interesting to watch Adam bowling when he's 12 or 13.
Doug Mueller, Edgewood, started his bowling 20 years ago. The bartender at the Baby Split Lounge at Fair Lanes Edgewood was 6 at the time.
Today Doug carries a 174 average and bowls in the Harford Major Mixed, the Thursday Major Men and the Monday Bud League at Edgewood.
"Edgewood is like home to me," Doug said. "My first job when I was a high school kid was as a porter at Edgewood, and I've been here ever since. I knoweverybody, and everybody knows me."
After bowling for 20 years and maintaining a modest average, Doug has started throwing some big scores.
How big? On Feb. 19, 1991, he had a 253 game, the following night he threw a 240-plus, and he's started throwing 600-plus series.On Feb. 1, Doug started striking in the first frame and just kept throwing them until he had 10 in a row. The 300 game was within reach, but the ball in the 11th frame didn't carry, and Doug had to settle for a 287 game.
What's been the big difference in his game recently?
"About three months ago I bought a Ebonite Thunderbolt," Doug said. "And I had it fitted and drilled by Randy Ruckman at Bowler's Alley Pro Shop in Dundalk. That's when my game took off."
That shows how important it is to have a ball drilled properly, so if you're blaming your equipment for your bad games, maybe you're right.
If you know Jane Newman at Bel Air Bowl (if you're a Harford County bowler, chances are you do), you know that she has a wonderful sense ofhumor and takes everything in stride. So it will come as no surprisewhen you hear that Jane admitted to throwing a bowling ball into thespectators' seats.
OK, it wasn't a tenpin ball, although that's been Jane's game for the past 20 years.
Jane was visiting her son, John, at his Lisbon home and her grandchildren, Ryan, 5, and Jesica, 4, and their mother, Kathy, took her duckpin bowling at Joe Rineer's Mount Airy Lanes last
That duckpin ball weights less than 4 pounds, folks, and Jane hasn't thrown one in close to 30 years.
"And it doesn't have any holes in it," Jane said laughing. "On my backswing the ball just sorta slipped out of my hand backward and flipped into the spectators seats. Thank goodness, no one was sitting there at the time, but now all I hear from the grand children is 'Grandma, we thought you knew how to bowl.' "
Tournament news: Todayis the last day for the Bel Air Bowl 1st Annual Winter Fun Scotch Doubles Tournament. It's a handicap event with a first prize of $600 based on 100 entries. Squad times are 1, 2:30 and 4 pm.