A 300 game never has been recorded at Hampstead Bowling Center, but Joe Hall came close.
Hall lives in Manchester and started out bowling duckpins. But in the 1970s he took up tenpins, dropped them for many years and in 1988 started bowling again.
Today, Hall bowls tenpins in the Friday Twilight league and duckpins in the Monday church league, both at Hampstead. His duckpin average is 126, tenpins 175.
A few months ago his wife, Harrit, bought him a new ball from the pro shop at Hampstead Lanes.
"JB [Wisner, the pro shop operator] drilled that Falcon ball for a conventional grip," Hall said. "It weighs 15 1/2 pounds and I throw it pretty straight."
Hall was "throwing it pretty straight" on April 19 -- and with deadly precision.
"That night, as they say, I was in a groove," Hall said. "I was totally shocked. I never gave a thought to a perfect game."
After the first few frames of the first game of the set, a lot of people in Hampstead Lanes that night were thinking about a perfect game.
6* Twelve times in a row Hall pounded the
pins, straight and hard, 11 times an "X" was marked onto the score sheet.
The 12th ball looked good. But when the pins stopped falling, there was still a single pin, the sixth, standing.
A perfect game remains to be thrown at Hampstead Bowling Center, but Hall owns the house record of 299.
Hall continued to punish the pins that night. The second game was a solid 193, the third a 192. He threw a total of 21 strikes to post his career high series, a superb 684.
"If that six-pin had fallen for Joe, Hampstead Lanes would have given him a check for $300," said Ginny Blackowicz, league coordinator. "All I can say is, "Congratulations, Joe, for setting the house record."
That's the good news. Here's the bad news. Hall was bowling in an unsanctioned league, which means that the American Bowling Congress doesn't recognize the score and Hall won't be getting a 299 ring from the ABC.
Taking bowling seriously now
Rick Cassell, husband of Starr, manager of Thunderhead Westminster, started bowling seriously about two years ago.
Originally from a small Texas town, Cassell is a resident of Westminster and bowls in the Wednesday Men's Late and Friday Merchandise leagues at Thunderhead.
With a 183 average, a high game of 288 and a high series of 696, Cassell is capable of posting high scores. That's what he's doing in the final weeks of the season.
"Maybe because we [the C. E Abend & Son team] are locked in a close race for first place I was concentrating better," Cassell said. "It was a close race, so close that we had a roll-off to determine the winner."
Throwing a 16-pound Black Hammer and a Brunswick Phantom, Cassell threw games of 258, 206 and 213 for a 677 set. The following week, he had a 664 series.
Big man at Mount Airy
Mike Teal of Mount Airy bowls at Mount Airy Lanes in a single league, the Tuesday Men's Independent. Once averaging more than 140, bad knees have helped drop Teal's average to this year's 134.
"Joe Rineer [owner of Mount Airy Lanes and duckpin Hall of Famer] has been a big help to me," Teal said. "And all the years that I've bowled at Mount Airy, I've enjoyed it."
Over his 23-year career, Teal has posted a high game of 207, a high series of 514. On April 20, he came close to that high series.
"Larry Mullinix and I have been battling for high league average all season," Teal said. "I guess that I've been trying a little harder because of that."
It paid off that night. Teal shot 178, 155 and 171 for a 504 set and command of the league's high average by 11 pins.
"The following week, I almost blew it," Teal said. "I shot a lousy 382 series, but Larry bowled bad, too, and finished just behind me."
New leagues in Hampstead
Hampstead Bowling Center's Ginny Blackowicz said new leagues are starting there.
The 9-Pin No-Tap League will begin tomorrow. It's a short-season tenpin league that bowls at 7 p.m. on Mondays. It's an easy format for the four-member teams -- knock down nine pins with your first ball and call it a strike.
On June 6, the Hammer-Am league starts. A 13-week, four-member team event is a great way to purchase a bowling ball and gain entry into the 1993 Hammer Eastern Open bowling tournament in Baltimore.
The 8 p.m. league is a mixed handicapped league and each bowler will receive a Burgundy Hammer bowling ball, including fitting and drilling, and an entry into the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour event. The cost is $15 per bowler for 13 weeks. The combined cost of the Burgundy Hammer and entry into the LPBT event usually is $195.
For information: (410) 374-6211. Ask for Karen, Ginny or Roberta.