His knowledge of game bowls you over

March 07, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

He's sort of a local bowling legend, this Harvey "Robby" Robinson.

The 78-year-old Robby, as he is best known, has done everything in local bowling: pinsetter as a kid, 190-average bowler as an adult, keen-eyed instructor in later years.

Robby can quote chapter and verse on local bowling history. He was there the day Johnny Unitas announced he was opening the Colt Lanes in Baltimore County. That was 1960. Robby was one of the first employees at Unitas' centers.

"Johnny Unitas is an incredible athlete," said Robby. "The first year he bowled in a bowling center, he averaged 185. Chuck Thompson was a good bowler, too."

Robby can tell you about bowling before World War II-- when tenpin leagues were almost non-existent in the Baltimore area.

"The big break in tenpins came after the war," he says, recollecting the mechanization of the sport that followed. Automatic pinsetters made the game, he said.

"The trouble back then was you just couldn't get enough people to set pins, because it was a pretty demeaning job," he said. When he set pins during the Great Depression, he says he earned 1 1/2 cents per game.

He's watched as wooden lanes and wooden pins have been replaced by synthetic lanes and synthetic pins, watched as hard rubber bowling balls gave way to plastic and urethane balls.

A lot of folks who remember the old days like to say today's game is too easy. Not Robby.

"The game hasn't gotten too easy," he said. "You still have to shoot the same shot."

Robby is retired now, but he still comes out sometimes to give lessons.

Doran Meadows has known Robby since 1966, when Meadows was stationed at Ft. Meade. It was Robby, he says, who turned him from an average bowler to a pretty good one.

"I shot in the 160s when I met him," Meadows recalled this week. "I shoot in the 190s now. I owe it all to him."

One piece of advice that was invaluable was how to knock down the 7-pin. For left-handers like Meadows, the 7-pin can be the toughest spare shot.

"You look down the lanes, and you can see reflections of the pins on the lanes. I never noticed that until Robby told me," Meadows explained. "He said, 'Shoot at the reflection, not at the spot.' So I did, and I haven't missed too many 7-pins since then."

What's the rule?

In a lot of leagues, the question has come up: Is it against the American Bowling Congress rules to clean a bowling ball with rubbing alcohol during league competition? No, it's not, according to Roger Dalkin, an ABC official who recently addressed the question on the Prodigy service bowling bulletin board.

"Rule 19 states altering the surface of a bowling ball by use of abrasives (emphasis added) while bowling in sanctioned competition is prohibited," Dalkin wrote. "Rubbing alcohol removes dirt and oil from the bowling ball and is recommended for cleaning the bowling ball because it is inexpensive and easy to use."

PBA comes to town

The touring professional bowlers will be hitting town today in order to compete in the annual Baltimore PBA tournament, to be held this year at Fair Lanes Woodlawn. A Pro-Am tournament was scheduled for today, with qualifying bowling beginning tomorrow. For information, call 944-6000

Wiseman places 40th

Danny Wiseman has had a rough PBA winter tour. As one of the top-money winners over the past three years, Wiseman's name has always popped up in the weekly PBA standings. But so far on the winter tour, the Dundalk native's name has been missing among the top finishers.

He had some success this past week, though, rolling a 208.5 average over 18 games to finish 40th and earn $1,050 in the $150,000 Flagship City Open in Erie, Pa. Early in the week, Wiseman was in 6th place, but dropped down later.

Good ducks

Scott Scheir, a 140-average bowler in the Wednesday Midweekers at Fair Lanes Timonium, rolled a 513-set this week. He had games of 158,

190 and 165.

ADT results

Eugene Bradley, a Temple Hills bowler, rolled a pair of strikes and knocked down 7 pins on the fill ball in the 10th frame of the championship match in the weekly Amateur Duckpin Tour last Sunday.

He needed every pin, because Dave Kowalewski, of Baltimore, made a difficult split and needed only four pins to win, three to tie. But Kowalewski got only two, and Bradley edged him out, 160-159.

For his victory, Bradley earned $900; Kowalewski won $450.

Good score

Michele Bevans, age 7, rolled a 264 game in the bantam division of the city youth tournament, but she came up short in the individual competition, finishing in a tie for second with a 637 set. Kiera Barham, a Country Club Lanes bowler, won the bantam division with a 667 set.

Robert Burck won the boys bantam division with a 657 set. In the prep division, Eric Colling, who bowls at Fair Lanes Rolling Road, won with a 723 set; Colleen Anderson won girl's prep division with a 667.

In the junior division, Jason Fick and Daisy Tillman were the winners, with scores of 715 and 671, respectively. Senior division bowlers Robby Beall and Ann Dietrich won first place, with scores of 695 and 649, respectively.

Beer and bowling

On Friday, the Baltimore County legislative delegation voted to approve House Bill 635, which would make it easier for bowling alleys to get liquor licenses. Fair Lanes Corporation asked for the same law last year, but it was not approved. Traditionally, if the local legislators favor a liquor law, the General Assembly passes it. Dennis Rasmussen, former county executive who is a lobbyist for Fair Lanes, said Fair Lanes already serves liquor in five of its 15 centers in Baltimore County.

If you know an interesting bowler, or have a good bowling story to tell, please call Glenn Small at 410-494-2944, or write to him care of The Sun, 1300 Bellona Ave., Baltimore, 21093. You can also fax letters or scores to (410) 494-2916.

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