Czechs still in league of their own

The Czechoslovakian Society of America duckpin league has been around for a long time.

"Oh, my, it was just after the war [World War II], 1946, I guess, when the boys came home," said Helen Hejny. "At that time there were a lot of Czechs living in East Baltimore and we started bowling at the old Spillway lanes on Monument Street."


The league began with four couples, grew as the years went by and now is shrinking again.

And it moved: from the Spillway to the Overlea lanes on Belair Road and when that center converted to tenpins in the mid-50s, the league moved to Seidel's, still on Belair Road but closer to Baltimore City. It has been there ever since.


"At one time there were seven Free State lodges," Hejny said. "Now most of us belong to the one on Philadelphia Road in Rosedale."

Hejny and her husband of 53 years, Frank, live in Overlea and bowl in the Friday Senior league at Parkville, too. Helen averages 96 on the lanes and Frank carries a 118.

Helen's daughter, Anita Scheuing, is secretary of the league.

"It helps a lot if you're Czech when a lot of the members have Czech names," she laughed. "Names such as Mentlik, Pokorny and Zukas can be a bit confusing."

There's no confusion about why the league has existed for so long.

"We have a lot of fun," Hejny said. "I guess about 80-90 per cent of the members are Czech, at least by marriage, and we range in age from the late 20s to the late 70s but everyone gets along great."

A bowling family

The Baltimore Women's Bowling Association conducted the 38th annual Championship tournament at Brunswick Columbia over two weekends last month.


The Columbia Swingers -- Bettie Shoemaker, Priscilla Clark, Paula Gibson and Diane Pezzano -- captured first place in the handicap division with a total of 2,677 on their home lanes.

The Pezzano name is familiar to Baltimore bowlers, Diane's husband, Curt, is the manager of a Baltimore County bowling center. Her father-in-law, Chuck Sr., is a national figure on the tenpin scene, and her brothers-in-law, Chuck Jr., Clay and Craig, are deadly serious tenpin bowlers with multiple 300 games and 800 sets to their credit.

Diane Pezzano bowls for fun.

"My average?" she said. "I guess in the 160s."

Using a 14-pound bowling ball, she has a career high game of 258, a high set of 680. She competes in just a single league, the Wednesday Mixed at Columbia.

"That's how the team [the Columbia Swingers] was formed," she said. "We bowl together and decided to try the tournament as a team. We thought it would be fun."


Junior Achievement event

Junior Achievement is presenting a Bowl-A-Rama next month. Anyone can bowl in the event that will be conducted in centers in the Baltimore area on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15.

Information: (410) 527-1966.

Tournament news

Next weekend, April 16-17, the Good Neighbor Women's Open will be at Edgemere Lanes.

Information: (410) 477-0717.


* Also, next weekend, National Amateur Bowlers Inc is at Fair Lanes Ritchie. First place is a guaranteed $1,000.

Information: (410) 761-3800.