Man who took up bowling late in life now hooked His weekly routine runs to 420 games

May 19, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Like a lion in search of prey, he prowls. In his hand, he carrie his weapon -- a 13-pound Colombia 300 bowling ball with the name "Happy" engraved in it.

Harry Happersett, 72, is respected and known by every bowler and employee at Fair Lanes in Annapolis for his high average, bowler dedication and "happy" disposition. The 118-pound resident of Annapolis bowls 420 games a week, with a 168 average.

He started bowling in 1985, when a young friend from work treated him to a game. He threw three straight gutter balls and declared: "This ain't for me."

Eight years and 26 trophies and awards later, he feels differently.

"Bowling occupies my mind," he said yesterday, after bowling a spare. "It gives me pleasure and relaxes me. Bowling is the best exercise I get."

He said he wasn't going to become one of those seniors who "lay around and play pinochle after retirement."

Within a year, his average had climbed to 130 and his team, "The Retail Merchants," won first place in the county.

He took up bowling seriously, paying $20 an hour for lessons.

Mr. Happersett went to the county Senior Citizens Tournament fours years in a row, never placing lower than 12th out of 80. Mr. Happersett was banned from the Senior Bowling League at Fair Lanes last year because he was bowling scores higher than 200.

"After one set, the other seniors went up to me and told me that if I didn't leave they would," Mr. Happersett said with a laugh. "They told me no one on the senior league bowled better than a 200."

So he left. "I just want everyone to know I can bowl just as good as the young generation," he said.

His wife, Susie, said her husband's constant bowling doesn't bother her.

"He's always on the go and he loves to bowl -- in winter and summer. At his age, I say he's doing pretty doggone good. He's not like other seniors."

Mr. Happersett, a member of the American Bowling Congress and the Nation's Capital Area Bowling Association, has even created his own bowling teams. His teams, The Young and The Old and It's About Time, won first place in the county for mixed team bowling in 1989, 1991 and 1992.

Of all his bowling triumphs, Mr. Happersett said he'll never forget the first time he got eight strikes in a row, bowling before a silent and astonished crowd.

"I was this close to a perfect game," he said. "But at the last minute, before my final bowl, someone yelled, 'I bet he won't do it!' and I missed by one pin."

His goal in life, he said, is to attain that perfection. "I'm going to bowl a perfect game. I'm going for all of it and I'm going to be put in the Seniors Bowling Hall of Fame.

"I wish I'd started when I was 20," he said. "Who knows, I might have been a pro bowler."

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