Jim Richardson of Bel Air started bowling after he graduated from Bel Air High School when his aunt, Pat Gullion, needed a sub and asked him to bowl in her Thursday night league.
"That was the start for me," he said. "I've been bowling ever since."
And that's a major understatement.
You'll find him on the lanes at Bel Air Bowl six of the seven nights of each week: Sunday in a mixed league, Monday in the Firstnighters, again on Tuesday and most Wednesdays he subs, Thursday, it's the Commercial Birds and Friday he's back with the Potpourri league.
He takes Saturdays off.
And all that competition pays off.
A few weeks ago in the Monday league, Richardson, a 207-average tenpin bowler, popped games of 266, 234 and 278 for a 778 set.
"That last game I started with a spare and I was thinking 290," he said. "But I had to settle for the 278."
And the 778 is still short of his career high series, a series that is also the house record for Bel Air Bowl.
For the record breaker, Richardson fired games of 254, 269 and 299 for a superb 822 set.
"I left the 7-pin in the last frame of the last game," the right-hander said, "And I still don't understand how it stood."
If it had fallen it would have been his third perfect game.
Like most of the better bowlers, he isn't afraid to change equipment.
He posted his 778 set with a Burgundy Hammer, the 822 with a Rhino. One is urethane, the other reactive resin. And he isn't slow to take advice, even about something as critical as his release.
"Mike Myers picked up on that," Richardson said. "He noticed that I wasn't keeping my hand directly behind the ball when I released it. So I made a point of lifting through the ball and since then I've busted a bunch of 700 sets."
And Myers is a professional bowling coach, right? Wrong.
"I've worked as a mechanic and a lane man at Bel Air Bowl for about six years," Myers said. "And I just picked up a lot about tenpins from guys like Marty Letscher [pro shop operator at Bel Air Bowl and PBA member] and from bowling."
Myers lives in Bel Air and bowls in two leagues, both at Bel Air Bowl, the Monday Firstnighters and the Thursday Commercial Birds. He has a career high game of 289 and a high series of 792.
"I just noticed that Jim wasn't staying under the ball and mentioned it to him," Myers said. "And he started keeping his hand right behind the ball."
And that critical fraction of an inch makes for the extraordinary difference in what happens 60 feet away.
, Ask Jim Richardson about it.
A remarkable game
Nick Barlow and his teammates are at it again.
Barlow, manager at the Bel Air Bowl center, anchored the five-man team last Monday that fired a remarkable single game of 1,197.
Chris Anderson shot 267, Rick Byus had a 205, John Anderson fired a 224 game, Phil Blake posted a 236 and Barlow pounded out a 265 game.
+ That's an average of 239.4.