How often do you hear a sports announcer say somebody "snatched victory from the jaws of defeat?"
Enough times so it's lost its meaning. But it happened to two women in Carroll County, Sue Meloy and Gladys Harman.
Meloy did it in the Wednesday Harrison High Rollers League, and Harman did it in the Wednesday Morning Ladies League, both at Thunderhead Lanes in Westminster.
Sue Meloy, part-time counter worker at Thunderhead, lives in Westminster and started bowling tenpins about 19 years ago. In addition to the Wednesday league, she bowls in Tuesday and Friday leagues and is throwing an old standby bowling ball with a conventional grip. We'll get back to that conventional grip shortly.
In the Harrison High Rollers, Meloy had the high average (162), high set (598) and, heading into the last night of the season, needed the high game for the Triple Crown.
"My first two games were awful," Meloy said, "160 and then a 125. The next game was the last game of the season, my last chance for the Triple Crown."
So Meloy threw the highest game of her bowling year career -- 275. That's the second Triple Crown for Meloy, and she used the same 10-pound conventional grip ball for both awards.
It was just last year that she switched to a fingertip grip with a new 11-pound ball and said, "Don't give up if you switch to a fingertip ball, it'll take time to master it."
That's true. Meanwhile, Meloy's average nose-dived from 171 to 151 and a few months ago, she went back to her old bowling ball . . . and started throwing 600-plus sets.
Gladys Harman lives near Westminster with her husband, Richard Sr. and her son Richard Jr. and bowls in the Monday Morning Mixed and the Wednesday Morning Ladies leagues at Thunderhead Westminster. Harman is a duckpin bowler, and her husband and son bowl tenpins at County Lanes. Harman's average is 113.
"This is a bowling family," she said. "I started about three years ago, and I just love it. The people on my team, and for that matter, the people in both leagues, are just great. Duckpin bowling is such a challenge, it's so unpredictable."
It sure is unpredictable. Harman, bowling on the "GAF" team [that's the first letters of Gladys, Ann and Susan] in the Wednesday Morning League, had no idea that on the last day of the season she would "snatch victory from defeat."
The cashier at Martin's supermarket in Westminster threw a 161 game to tie for the league lead and a 403 series that beat the previous high set by one pin.
The excitement for John Hayes is made up of a simple fact: He's leading the 14th Annual Tenpin Singles Handicap Tournament at Thunderhead Lanes in Taneytown. And he has to wait until May 31 to know if his 754 set will hold up.
Hayes, from Reisterstown, Baltimore County, bowls at Taneytown "because my father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law all bowl at Taneytown, so my wife Sheila and I do, too."
Hayes, 26, works for El-Tex Industries in Baltimore and has been bowling tenpins for about five years. He carries a 142 average with a high set of 543 and a high game of 216.
He threw that 216 as part of his tournament-leading series, adding games of 203 and 170 for a scratch 589 series, plus a 165 handicap, for his total of 754.
"Bowling is a great sport, and I really like it," Hayes said. "But I'm getting a little nervous waiting for the end of the tournament."
May 22-25: NABI Memorial Day Special Tournament at Crofton Bowling Centre in Anne Arundel County; for NABI members who have bowled at least 21 tournaments. (410) 721-2401.
May 29: No-Tap Pro-Am tournament at Country Club Lanes in Baltimore, adult or youth divisions, amateurs have a chance to bowl with Professional Bowlers Association members.
Ongoing: 14th Annual Co-Sponsored Tenpin Singles Handicap Tournament at Thunderhead Lanes in Taneytown; open to men and women until May 31; first prize is $500; entry fee is $18; competitors may bowl any time lanes available. 751-1750.