Behind the scenes, summer is busy
In a short while the fall/winter bowling season will begin. For the bowlers who haven't picked up a ball since the last night of the 1992-93 season, there's little thought to what's happened at their bowling center. They just want to walk in and start bowling. Of course the center is supposed to be fresh, bright, inviting and the lanes are supposed to be conducive to high scoring, the approaches clean and without blemishes.
Everything exactly the way it was last season.
Well, it isn't magic. It's foresight, expense and hard work that keep the center looking great and scoring conditions high.
At Steve Sandusky's Riviera Bowl, a duckpin center that been a fixture in Pasadena for 30 years, the foresight and expense is supplied by Steve, the hard work by Don Chipley.
You may bowl at Riviera Bowl and never meet or even see Chipley. If he wasn't there, however, you'd miss him.
Chipley is the mechanic that keeps the pin-setting machine working. He's the guy that trouble-shoots the approaches and the lanes, searching out the things that could be a problem before they become a problem.
"We've just had the lanes recoated," said Steve Sandusky. "And the approaches sanded and replaced any boards that needed replacing."
Specialists do that extremely tricky work. Don Chipley does the rest.
What kind of a background do you need to be a duckpin center mechanic?
How about four years as an Air Force jet-engine mechanic? And a few more years as an airplane mechanic for Butler Aviation at BWI?
"I figured if I could work on jet engines, I could handle pin setters," Chipley laughed. "So when I saw a newspaper ad for a mechanic, preferably one who was retired, I figured they were talking about me."
Chipley was in the last few weeks of a 22-year hitch with the Maryland State Police and the ex-sergeant was looking for something that could keep him occupied.
He'll be with Riviera Bowl two years this November and what he doesn't know about pin-setting machinery and what it takes to maintain a duckpin center probably isn't worth knowing.
It was a long, winding road he traveled to Riviera Bowl; born and reared in South Baltimore, a graduate of Southern High, a USAF airman for four years, a sergeant in the Maryland State Police for "22 years and nine months," the Pasadena resident settled in at that the center like an old hand. He's a big bowler, right?
"No, I don't bowl," Chipley said. "And no matter how hard Glenna [Grimes, manager of the center] tries to get me to start bowling, it's not going to work.
"I'll keep the machinery working, she can do the bowling.
"Even in the summer when there's less bowling I'm always doing preventive maintenance," Chipley said. "That's the biggest problem, finding the loose piece of machinery before it causes a problem, looking for hairline fractures in the metal, checking to make sure that each lane, each approach, is smooth and without any loose boards or that any nail heads have jumped up. With 24 lanes, 24 approaches and the same number of pin setters the work never stops."
Since he doesn't bowl, what does he do for recreation?
"Ping-Pong and fishing and gardening, that's it," he said.
Riviera Bowl is forming a league for September that will live up to its name: The Dream League.
This league is for duckpin bowlers in the area who have begged for a league where the prize money would be high and the competition strong.
Well, here it is: the league will consist of four-member teams with a scratch average of 500; that's mixed quads with at least one women bowler on each team.
The payoff: $17,000 prize money based on 10 teams; the winninteam will be guaranteed $1,200 each.
Call (410) 255-3550 to make your reservation.
Still No. 1
Howard Marshall has once again left his mark on the Baltimore area bowling scene. This time he met 240 of the top bowlers on the East Coast in the Professional Bowlers Association Eastern Regional Classic at Country Club Lanes July 16-18, capturing first place and the $4,000 prize.
Marshall won 11, lost four and tied one in head-to-head matches. Along the way he averaged 223 and took another step to establish himself as the number one tenpin bowler in the area.
This weekend NABI is at Annandale Bowl. The first prize is a guaranteed $1,500 and the top two will receive "Regional Packages" valued at $225. For information call (703) 256-2211.
Next weekend, July 31-Aug. 1, NABI will be at Fair Lanes Annapolis. First prize is a guaranteed $1,000. For information call (410) 266-0700.