More than 400 of the best scratch tenpin bowlers in the Mid-Atlantic area gathered at Country Club Lanes in Baltimore last weekend.
"We had 76 teams from 17 states," said Curt Pezzano, manager. "We had to turn away 30 teams."
The scratch bowlers were in Baltimore for the World Team Bowling Challenge with the winning team to compete in the finals at Reno, Nev., at the end of the month.
"Randy Ruckman's Bowlers Alley Pro Shop team did great. It's fantastic that a local team came in third in this kind of competition," Pezzano continued.
"They placed third and came very close to winning it. And, believe me, there were some great teams in this tournament."
The Bowlers Alley Pro Shop team had some great local tenpin bowlers -- Bruce Hollen, Mike Wheeler, Karl Schmidt, Brian Bever, Mike Bowers and captain Randy Ruckman.
Ruckman has operated the Bowlers Alley Pro Shop off the concourse of Fair Lanes Dundalk since 1991.
The Joppa resident has three 300 games and 791 career high series; he averages 208.
"It was pretty easy for me to pick a team," Ruckman said. "Schmidt and Wheeler I know from the Dundalk area and, of course, we all bowl together at Edgewood."
Bever, originally from Sparrows Point, lives in Belcamp and averages 220; he has thrown 15 games of 300; his high series is 845.
Hollen, born and raised in Baltimore County, lives in Upper Falls.
Bowling since he was 2 1/2 when his father drilled finger holes in a duckpin ball, he averages over 200 and "throws a 300 game just about every year." He has 14 of them and an 832 high set.
The left-hander carries a PBA card and bowls in the professional regionals when time permits.
Bowers of Baltimore was on the PBA tour in the early '80s; he's married to Margy Cook-Bowers, a top-level women tenpin bowler. With a 217 average he's thrown five 300 games and a 844 set; he has been bowling for over 30 of his 39 years.
"Last year Randy, Mike, Brian and Karl and I did pretty good," Bowers said. "We finished seventh. This year, with a break or two, a couple seven pins that didn't fall, we could have taken it all."
The Baker format that was used in the finals is brutal. Each man bowls just two frames, alternating; it's team play taken to the very edge with little room for error, each ball of vital importance.
"We averaged almost 210 in the Baker finals," Bowers said. "Under that condition I feel we bowled great."
Pate wins NABI tourney
The National Amateur Bowlers, Inc tour drew 118 entries to Brunswick Perry Hall June 4-5.
Darryl Pate of Baltimore fired a scratch 202 to defeat Rich Reese in the final game of the stepladder finals.
"I wasn't bowling great," Reese said, "But I was bowling good enough to win [the first three matches]."
Reese started at the bottom of the ladder, throwing a 184 against Betty Mead's 177; then defeated Larry Williams, 205-179, and moved into the semifinal with Doug Doyle.
Both threw 144 scratch scores, but Reese's two extra handicap pins gave him the victory. "It seemed that neither one of us wanted to win this one," he said.
"In the last match, Pate was open for a few frames," Reese continued, "but then he started striking and by the seventh frame it was all over."
Reese's second-place finish is astonishing when you consider that he has been bowling tenpins for just nine months.
"My dad bought me a ball last September and I started bowling in the Thursday Mixed League at Country Club," Reese said. "Then in late November I began to bowl in the NABI tournaments."
He finished his first season with a 183 average and posted a high game and set of 258 and 655, respectively.
Duckpin tournament news
The Duckpin Bowlers Tour will finish at Seidel's duckpin center on Belair Road at 11 a.m. today. The singles event will have a guaranteed first prize of $600.
The DBT will head for Bowl America Reisterstown next weekend, June 24-26. The doubles tournament will have a top prize of $800.
It's for members only, but Charles McElhose, proprietor of DBT, will pay the membership fee, courtesy of the Best of Bowling radio program for new members.