"Yes! Yes! Yes!"
That was Artis Booker Sr.'s reaction on the lanes at Brunswick Normandy when his 16-pound Bud II bowling ball crashed into the pocket for the 12th strike and his first perfect game.
"After 15 years, it felt good," he said. "I felt good about the 299 I shot but then I wasn't really trying. This time I wanted that 300, I mean I wanted it bad."
Booker of Catonsville bowls in four leagues -- the Never On
Sunday league at Country Club lanes, the Monday Mixers, the Thursday Get Togethers and the Friday Original Weekenders at Brunswick Normandy.
It was in the Friday league on April 15 that he ended his sometimes frustrating quest for the perfect tenpin game.
Last September he fired a 299 game in the first game of his Friday league at Normandy, a career-high single game that became the cornerstone of a 683 series.
At that time Booker reported that the other two games "were just a blur, all I could think of was missing a 300 game by that one pin."
This time the 201-average tenpin bowler was using a different grip and "was really trying to get that last strike."
"This new ball is drilled completely different from my old one," Booker said. "I come out of the thumb hole clean and get a lot of roll [on the ball]."
On the perfect Friday night, he started with a 225 game and in the second game started stringing strikes.
"After the first 11 strikes I was so nervous that all I wanted to be sure of was that my nerves would last long enough for me to throw that last ball," Booker said. "I just kept telling myself to let the ball do the work, let it roll out, just let it roll out.
"Then my teammates started working on me. They wanted to make sure that I threw a big enough third game to get the 700 set."
He needed a 175 to do that; he posted a 181 for a 706 series.
Nerves of steel
Seven-year-old Jason Mullinix doesn't let his nerves bother him one bit.
In the Maryland YBC Regional tournament at Fair Lanes Normandy last month, Jason, a second-grader at West Friendship Elementary School, fired games of 132 (his career high single game), 96 and 106 to capture first place in the boys 11-and-under division.
That first-place finish will send him to the Maryland State Finals in Hagerstown this weekend.
"I couldn't believe it. I was a nervous wreck," said his mother, Ann, "but Jason was fine."
Jason, in his second season of tenpin bowling, carries a 70
average in the YABA Saturday morning league at Normandy and until the tournament was throwing a 6-pound Gumball.
"But for the tournament Jason picked up an 8-pound house ball (( and rolled that great series," Ann said. "That night we went out and bought him a new 8-pound Brunswick Axis ball; that's what he'll use at the state finals this weekend."
In the YABA Saturday morning league Jason was the Bowler of the Week with 36 pins over average for the 24th week of the season.
Josh Geppi, 13, was Week 23 Bowler of the Week with a three-game set that was 166 pins over average.
He lives in Ellicott City and is in the seventh grade at Patapsco Middle School. Bowling for four years, he throws a 13-pound Rhino Pro bowling ball for a 120 average; his high game is 230.