This league has history to spare It's going strong 96 years later

October 25, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

When Don McMaster got out of the Coast Guard, the native of Downers Grove, Ill., began searching for a tenpin bowling league to join in Baltimore, a traditionally duckpin-dominated city. It was harder than he thought.

The year was 1946.

"They didn't have [tenpin bowling lanes] around here," McMaster, 71, Bowling

said last week. Tenpin leagues, he said, "bowled on duckpin lanes. They had to have a special setup."

After two years, McMaster did find a tenpin league to join, a Monday night bowling league called The Drug Trade League. He's bowled in it ever since -- 44 years in all -- and will lace up the bowling shoes tomorrow as always.

Funny thing is, 44 years in the Drug Trade League is not that long, comparatively speaking.

After all, the league itself has operated continuously for 95 years. Entering its 96th season this fall, it is the oldest tenpin bowling league in the United States, according to the American Bowling Congress, which itself was formed in 1895.

Begun by local pharmaceutical companies for their employees, the Drug Trade League evolved into the league to be in in Baltimore, said those who have bowled in it for a long time.

Back in the 1950s, when Donald Snyder joined the league, the only way to get on a team was to try out as a substitute bowler.

"It really was like a waiting list," Snyder said. "You almost had to be approved by the rest of the guys. It always attracted the best bowlers in the Baltimore area."

Although it's a handicap league, the Drug Trade League still attracts some of Baltimore's best tenpin bowlers, Snyder said. Last year, for instance, out of 90 bowlers on 18 teams, 40 men averaged 185 or better.

"It's very competitive," Snyder said.

One Drug Trade League bowler, Roy Harris, has a lifetime average of 212 in the league, dating to the early 1980s. Dundalk native Danny Wiseman, a touring pro bowler, was in the league one year, as was another local PBA member, Michael Bowers of Aberdeen.

When McMaster began in the league he was rolling a Manhatten hard-rubber ball at a now-closed duckpin center in Pikesville. Pinboys reset the pins after every shot.

There were still some old-timers from the turn of the century bowling in the league back then, McMaster said. And they talked about how much tougher it was to bowl rolling wooden bowling balls at 5-pound maple pins.

In 1959, the league settled at Brunswick Lanes in Perry Hall. They're still there.

$300 for 300

Gordon Carter, a 168-average bowler, rolled his first 300 on Oct. 6 in the Tuesday night Men's Scratch Triples League at Towson Fair Lanes. He got $300 and a watch.

Hall of Fame tickets

A few tickets remain for the annual Greater Baltimore Bowling Association's Hall of Fame Dinner Dance on Nov. 7. On the men's side, Bob Mallette and Bill Mend will be inducted for meritorious service, and on the women's side, Georgia Athas will be inducted for meritorious service and Bert Capel for superior performance. Capel, who has been bowling for more than 35 years, has a career-high game of 267. Call (410) 254-3425 for information.

Top Country Club scores

At Country Club Lanes last week, Chris Shaw rolled a 297 in the Maryland Law league; Derrick Brooks shot a 751 set (220, 245, 286) in the Starfires; Chuck Dengler had a 747 in the Monday Men's Handicap league (258, 214, 275); and Ray Drewry shot a 748 (276, 259, 213) and Jewel Paylor a 691 (237, 245, 209) in the Starfires League.

Bowling for scholarships

The 11th annual tenpin Council Scholarship Tournament for Maryland high school seniors who are sanctioned youth bowlers is scheduled for Dec. 6. Student bowlers have a chance of winning up to $1,000 in scholarship money. Merrilyn Mallette, an organizer of that event, said the tenpin council also needs local leagues to help with fund raising by selling 50/50 tickets. For information, call her at (410) 747-5106.

You can reach Glenn Small by writing to The Sun, 401 Washington Avenue, Towson, Md. 21204, or by calling (410) 296-0080. His fax number is (410) 823-1439.

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