It's spring and you can forget baseball -- the pins are poppin'.
Brian Swain, Corey Wilson and John Switala fired 300 games last week,and Ron Walters came close with a 299 game. Phil Wessel banged out afantastic 823 series.
Switala, Walters, Wilson and Wessel bowl at Greenway Odenton. Swain threw his 300 at Fort Meade lanes.
Switala was bowling in the Thursday Capital Men's League on March 12 when he threw his third career 300 game. The trophy ring for that game will be sized to fit John Jr., 11, who carries the high average (131) in the YABA Saturday league at Greenway Odenton.
Donna, John's wife, and Melanie, their 9-year-old daughter, are bowlers. Melanie, bowling in the same league asher brother, has a 72 average.
"I laughed when Donna told me thatshe dreamed about me throwing a 300 game," John said. "Because at that time I hadn't thrown one yet. But she was right, a few days later I threw the first 300 game.
"If anyone tells you he's not nervous in the last frame, he's lying. The best advice I can give anyone whenthey're close to a 300 game is not to start thinking, just get up and throw the ball."
John does have a little help with his bowling. "If I'm not bowling the way I should, Ray Atkinson, my brother-in-law, spots it pretty quick and I can correct the error fast. Since we bowl together we can help each other with our games," John said.
John threw that last 300 game with a 16-pound Turbo bowling ball that Charlie Sauer, Greenway pro shop operator, drilled for him.
"It didn't seem to be working exactly the way I wanted, so I polished it," John said. "Basically, I'm a cranker, and after I polished the ball it started reacting the way I like."
The Pasadena resident and carrier for the U.S. Postal Service has just received his PBA papers and will be joining the professional ranks very shortly.
Wessel, a Navy man, lives in Millersville with his wife, Donna, and bowls in just one league, the Thursday Capitol Men's League at Greenway. He still carries a 218 average with a 16-pound Pearl Hammer.
But because he's trying to make the Navy bowling team to compete against other serviceteams, he has been practicing, bowling about 20 games a week.
Thepractice paid off. He fired games of 267, 278 and another 278 for a career-high 823 series.
Jim Keller, retired from the Air Force, needed a bowler for the Fort Meade INSCOM league on Monday nights. He called his neighbor, Brian Swain.
"I really was going to give up bowling," Swain said. "I wasn't bowling all that good, but Jim's a neighbor and so I said yes."
"He's a good bowler," said Jim Keller, team captain for the Procrastinators. "I knew he could help the team."
Swain fired a 165 for the first game. His third game was an even 200. But in between he buried the ball in the pocket 12 times for his first 300 game.
"I had a 299 and I've shot an 806 set," he said. "But I really wanted that 300 game. And it was funny, that night if you shot a triple-header, you received a bottle of wine."
In tournament news:
* Greenway Bowl Odenton will play host to the Easter Bunny Funnies Handicap Mixed Doubles on April 11 and 12. First prize is $500.
* On April 5, Greenway Bowl Odenton will have a qualifying tournament for the PBA Regional Tournament, to take place at the Country Club Lanes at a later date.
Information: Bill Mead or Peggy Tully, 551-7100.
Tune in to Don Vitek's Best of Bowling talk show on WCBM/AM 680 on Sunday evenings at5.
Donald G. Vitek's Bowling column appears every Thursday in theAnne Arundel County Sun. Bowlers are urged to give Don a call with scores and tidbits at 247-0850.