Joe Rineer of New Windsor received the 13th annual Distinguished Leadership Award from the the Duckpin Bowling Proprietors of America, and he was a great choice.
Rineer, the owner of Mount Airy Lanes, knows the duckpin game from over 30 years of competition, has been a proprietor for 20 years and has worked in the industry since 1969.
A past president and current board member of the Baltimore Duckpin Bowlers Association and a member of the Duckpin Professional Bowlers Association, he's served as color commentator for the "Duckpin Magic" TV series.
As a competitor, he is ranked 10th in average with 145.351 by the BDBA for the 1992-93 season.
Rineer has seen the changes in duckpin bowling from both viewpoints.
"As a bowler I've watched the scoring increase dramatically," he said. "For example, in 1973 I had the leading average for the BDBA with 133. This year Mike Steinert was ranked first with 153. I've seen participation in tournaments go down while the pro tour has become stronger.
"In the early '60s rubber sideboards jumped the scoring from the 120s into the 130s. When the plastic duckpin came on the scene in the early '70s scoring jumped again. It's doubtful if such great changes will ever come again."
As an owner he's seen changes that have been perhaps slower, but just as strong.
"More and more families are bowling as a family," he said. "One change that I was very slow to accept was bumper bowling for the very youngest of the children. It has turned out to be just great for bowling as a way of getting the kids interested in bowling and having the parents take an interest in the game. Right now I have bumpers for all 12 lanes of the center and fill the place with children from 3 to 6 years old."
What's down the road for the game?
"Bowling is a business, of course, no matter how much it's sport for the bowler," Rineer said, "And business in general is in a slump right now so it follows that bowling is in a slump, but the proprietors associations -- national and state -- are still strong. With duckpins becoming more family oriented, I think that the game is headed out of the economic valley it's been in for a few years."
A new sport in town
It's new, it's unique, it's fun and only Steve Sandusky's Riviera Lanes has it.
It's Rowler bowl.
"I heard about it starting with tenpins on the West Coast," said Sandusky.
"And I contacted Jim Howe, marketing head for Rowler Sports, which makes and sells the poles."
You need the poles because Rowler bowl is a cross between shuffleboard and bowling. The American Bowling Congress has approved the sport for disabled players in sanctioned games.
Intrigued by the concept after seeing it advertised in a national magazine, Sandusky had the Rowler poles manufactured to duckpin-ball size.
The poles, which are either 48 or 36 inches, are used to push the duckpin ball down the approach and onto the lane.
"We're having Rowler ball night," Sandusky said. "On Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. you can play Rowler ball for $1 a game."
For another $1 you can have a slice of pizza while you're Rowling.
A career night out
Bill Buttner of Parkville, who started bowling about 20 years ago, bowls in a single league, the Tuesday Triples, at Edgemere duckpin lanes and last year averaged 127.
On Sept. 21 in that league Buttner had a career night.
"I wasn't doing anything different," he said. "It just seems that sometime you get into a zone and everything goes your way."
His first game was 158, the second an awesome 221 and the last game was a workmanlike 138 for a superb 517 series.
Both set and game are lifetime highs for Buttner, and that set is 138 pins over his average.
His wife, Pam, a 140-plus average bowler on the women's pro tour, has taken some time off with new baby, Kara, born last year.