A challenge that's right up your alley Team tournament coming to Baltimore


December 20, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

So you think you've got a pretty good bowling team, huh?

Well, you'll have a chance to prove it in the not-too-distant future when the National Team Challenge-- or Baker Format bowling -- comes to Baltimore, which will be the last stop in a yearlong 12-city tour.

"It's really catching on," said Tom Boedecker, tournament director for the National Team Challenge.

Many tenpin bowling fans might remember the heyday of team bowling -- back in the 1950s and early 1960s -- when five-man teams like the Budweisers and Falstaffs regularly competed on television.

Team bowling fell out of popularity not long after the Professional Bowlers Association began televising the faster-paced stepladder finals, in which individual bowlers went head-to-head ABC-TV.

But team bowling is making a comeback, thanks to the Baker Format. Home Team Sports has televised the first six tournaments, so some people already might be familiar with it.

Each person on a five-man team bowls two frames. So the first bowler would bowl the first and sixth frames, the second bowler would bowl the second and seventh frames -- and so on. Under the Baker Format, the top three teams bowl against each other on television.

Boedecker said the tournaments are open to any male bowling teams that want to pay the $500 entry fee. The only restriction is no one team can have more than two card-carrying PBA members.

The Baltimore stop will be June 12-13 at Country Club Lanes in Middle River. It may be one of the biggest tournaments, because it's the last tournament before the Grand Championships on June 25-27 in Reno, Nev.

Any team that wins one of the Baker Format tournaments -- besides winning between $4,000 and $8,000, depending on the number of entrants -- also wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Reno to compete for the title of Best Bowling Team in America.

So far, seven teams have signed up to bowl in the Baltimore tournament -- but only one team from the Baltimore area, a five-man squad from Aberdeen. The other teams are from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, mostly, said Boedecker.

The two-day tournament in Baltimore will consist of two three-game blocks on Saturday, and then the top 10 teams will bowl head-to-head to determine the top three who will compete on television. Boedecker said the 10th-place team is guaranteed to win back at least its entry fee of $500.

Boedecker said there is space for 80 teams at the Baltimore stop, and he expects registration to pick up as the tournament approaches. Dennis Baldwin, owner of Country Club Lanes and the company that makes the Hammer ball, said he will enter at least one team under the Hammer name.

The best teams, Boedecker said, are those who talk among themselves and share tips about the lane conditions. "They really have to work together," he said.

Anyone interested can get a registration form at Country Club Lanes or by calling Boedecker at (414) 423-3415.

Bel Air pro wins tournament

Baltimore-area bowler Marty Letscher, 36, won the National Resident Pro Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, last weekend.

The No. 2 seed rolled games of 253 and 269 to win the title and $6,000. The event pitted the best non-touring pros against each other. Letscher, a 15-year PBA member, owns and operates Marty's Pro Shop in Bel Air.

81-year-old hits 228 in duckpins

Eighty-one-year-old Marie Kratz, who carries a 97 average in the Monday Classy Seniors League at Fair Lanes Southwest, shot an incredible duckpin score last week -- a 228.

"I doubt that there are many people who have shot a score that high, much less someone who is 81," said George Zelinkas, general manager of Southwest. "I've never shot a score that high."

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