Steve Burkett started bowling tenpins when he was 14.
"I bowled in the youth leagues at [Fair Lanes] Dundalk," Burkett said, "And I've never stopped."
Working for the Fair Lanes organization for "about six or seven years," most recently as a relief manager, Burkett is now the operations manager at the Southdale center.
"I just want folks to come in and see for themselves what kind of center I'm running," he said. "For example, I'll have Rock and Bowl on Saturday nights with a DJ."
Bowling is something Burkett knows about; in June 1992 he fired a 790 series with a 300 game.
"That was my first 300," he said. "I'd had a couple 298s, been close a couple of times but that's the first and only one. Now I'm out to shoot that 800 series, that's next."
His experience on the managerial side of bowling extends to directing Professional Bowlers Association qualifying tournaments in the Baltimore area.
"Of course, I'll have tournaments in-house," he said. "I'm not sure exactly how many yet but there will be a Halloween scratch tournament."
How to draw a duckpin crowd
It's not too easy to draw a crowd in a duckpin center; duckpin bowlers do not usually abandon their games to watch someone else.
Donna Ratcliff drew a crowd.
The Riviera Beach resident, bowling since she was a teen-ager, carried a 133 average last season to be ranked 19th by the Baltimore Duckpin Bowlers Association. She has a career-high game of 217, a high series of 544.
But those impressive figures didn't prepare her for what was to be an outstanding achievement.
"I'm bowling pretty well right now," Ratcliff said. "Recently, I've had a 539 set, a 498 set and, of course, this 530 series."
That 530 series was shot at Fair Lanes Pikesville in the women's summer traveling league. It started casually enough; her first game was a 141.
Then in the first frame of the second game, Ratcliff chalked up a spare. The second frame, a strike, the third frame, another spare.
She alternated spares and strikes for the rest of the game, drawing a nice-sized crowd.
Ratcliff never let up. There could be only one outcome: a 200 game.
She couldn't top that superb game, but she did come close to throwing another 200 game to finish the set.
"All I needed in the 10th frame [of the last game] was a mark and a count for the second 200," she said.
She settled for a 189 game and a 530 set. And a night to remember.
Cashing without leagues
"I just can't make the time commitment to leagues right now," Darwin Wimer said, "But I bowl in tournaments whenever I can."
And cashes. The Millersville resident captured second place in the Free State Classic Tenpin event at County Lanes in Westminster on Sept. 11.
"I've been bowling for about 35 years," the 204-average tenpin bowler said. "But with the new equipment it's like relearning the game."
Darwin has shot a 300 game and rolled a 799 series.
"I won't forget that set for a long while," he said. "The last ball left a ten-pin standing or I'd have had the 800 set."