In the past few years there has been a steady decline in the number of sanctioned league bowlers in the ABC and the WIBC, but not in the Calvert League at Fair Lanes Woodlawn.
There has been a dramatic increase in the Calvert League over the past five years, the same years that saw a decline in ABC and WIBC membership.
Today the Calvert League is one of the largest in Baltimore, filling more than half the 48-lane center -- with bowlers actually being turned away.
"We have 30 teams of five members each," said James Blue, the man behind the league. "We had to turn down five teams that wanted to join this year because the center didn't have the lanes for the expansion."
The Calvert League has been in existence for a long time. Originally, its members worked at the Calvert Distillery in Southwest Baltimore County.
Just five years ago the league had eight teams; the growth of the league began with the start of the five-year presidency of Blue.
"This year I've stepped down [from president]," Blue said. "The new president is Connell Evans. I guess you could just call me the overseer. I try to oversee everything that goes on in the league, to check everything out to make sure that everything is OK, running smoothly."
Today when so many leagues are focused on the money aspect of bowling, the big-money payoff at season's end, it is refreshing to know that some bowlers still put a premium on having an
enjoyable evening with friends.
"Sure, there's a prize fund," Blue said. "The top team will collect $1,000 each, the bottom team will take home $100 each but the money isn't the important thing. Having fun, having a good with your friends, that's the important thing. It's what I keep stressing, let's have a great night out."
Blue also said that everyone in the league should know everything about the league: who's the president, where the secretary can be found, what the prize fund will be and how it will be paid out, what they're paying for lineage, every facet of a bowling league is covered.
Does it work? You bet. Not only do they have to turn teams away, but teams also are willing to travel a long distance to bowl in the handicap mixed league, which bowls at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
"Two teams come all the way from Annapolis," Blue said with a laugh. "They do it because everyone has a good time."
Hammer Eastern Open
Last year, Leanne Barrett won her 14th career title in the $50,000 Hammer Eastern Open by defeating top-seed Carol Gianotti, 245-219, in the championship round at Country Club Lanes.
She will be back to defend her title in the event, which began with yesterday's 9-pin No Tap Pro/Am and ends with Thursday's stepladder finals.