Jim Brown of Columbia is pushing 60. He looks 10 years younger, except when he's throwing a tenpin bowling ball. Then he looks 20 years younger.
When he was 35, Brown started bowling. And just kept getting better and better.
Finally he decided he was ready for the world of professional bowling, and he hit the road with the Senior Professional Bowling Association national tour.
He made the nationally televised finals on Oct. 14 in Pinellas, Fla., in the Pinellas Senior Open.
"It was great," Brown said. "The crowd was with us all week, and it made everything just that much better."
And things don't get much better than averaging 221 over 40 games against the best senior bowlers in the country.
Brown was placed in the third-seeded position for the TV finals.
Bowling against Gus Stus in his first television match, Brown had a rotten start. By the the fourth frame, he trailed by 35 pins.
"I knew I had to make an adjustment," Brown said, "But between shots when sitting down waiting for Gus to play, I just blanked out. Nothing really prepares you for your first game on national TV."
When he made his adjustment, he came on strong, banging out strike after strike. He was just a little late getting started and lost the match to Stus by a few pins, settling for fourth place and a check for $3,100.
No tap perfection
Peggy Raynor bowls in two leagues at Brunswick Columbia on Monday and Wednesday. The Columbia resident has a 174 average with a 10-pound Pearl Hammer.
The No Tap game that she threw on Oct. 13 in the Ladies No Tap Tournament at Columbia was one to remember.
In the No Tap event, Raynor started slowly, throwing games of 176 and 189. In the third game, the strikes started.
Seven times the pins fell on the first ball, five times a singlepin stood, but in a no tap event, one pin left standing counts as a strike. Seven natural strikes and five no-tap strikes is 12 in a row, and that's a 300 game.
"I didn't do anything too different," Raynor said. "I normally stand a little to the right of center but I moved into the middle and throw a straight ball down the center of the lane."
Young bowlers of the week
The Young American Bowling Alliance league at Brunswick Normandy on Saturday mornings is in full swing, and the youngsters are throwing some big games.
Bowlers of the Week include:
* John Bishop, 13, lives in Ellicott City and attends Dunloggin Middle School. The eighth-grader carries a 132 average with a high game of 191.
Bowling in the Junior Varsity, he threw a three-game set 98 pins over his average.
"I was using a little heavier bowling ball," John said. "That seemed to help."
* Paul Norko, 10, a fifth-grader at St John's Lane Elementary School who lives in Ellicott City, has been bowling for three years. Last year he was second in the season's end All Star Tournament at Normandy, and he'll be bowling in the All Star event again because he was tied with Blaine Vendettuoli for Bowler of the Week the third week of the season with 48 pins over average.
Averaging 99 and throwing a 9-pound ball, Paul has a high game over 140. Since September he has raised his average from 89 to 99.
* Blaine Vendettuoli, 11, of Ellicott City, is in the sixth grade at Patapsco Middle School. Blaine, who plays "a little soccer and fools around with the martial arts" has a 102 average with a high game of 150.
The third week of the new season he tied with Paul Norko for Bowler of the Week with 49 pins over average.
The National Amateur Bowlers, Inc will be at Brunswick Normany next weekend. First prize is a guaranteed $1,000. Call (410) 465-0355.