Pennsylvania Ave. center is in experienced hands

Baltimore Neighborhood Facilities. Inner City Bowling Center. Shake 'n' Bake.

Call it whatever name you like, it's still an outstanding tenpin center with 26 lanes, snack bar, automatic scoring and experienced management. And located in the heart of the Pennsylvania Avenue commercial district.


Cleve Brister, the facilities coordinator for the city, and Robert "B. J." Jones, the center manager, have more than 40 years of experience in the sport of bowling.

"I started bowling duckpins back in the '50s," said. Brister, a West Baltimore native who lives in Pimlico with his wife, Nancy. "Back then everybody bowled duckpins. Later I bowled tenpins at [Fair Lanes] Woodlawn."


And continued to bowl tens until arthritis in his knee forced him from the lanes. Before he hung up his bowling shoes, Brister fired a career-high game of 215 and a high set of 594 and carried an average in the 160s.

"Nancy was a good bowler," Brister said. "Averaged in the 150s before she quit."

A Baltimore City employee since 1967, Brister remembers when the center opened in 1982 under the name of Shake 'n' Bake. In 1985 the lanes were acquired by the city and have operated under that authority since.

"Everybody calls me B. J.," said Jones. "I bet a lot of people don't know my name."

Maybe they don't know his name, but the bowlers know him. He bowls in five leagues at the center -- Monday in the Baltimore City Officers, Wednesday's Kings and Queens, the Friday Triples and the Friday Singles and the Saturday Morning Scratch.

Born and raised in Sparrows Point, but now living in Catonsville, Jones has been a city employee since 1972.

He carries a 183 average and has a high game and set of 268 and 672, respectively.

"Right now I'm using three different bowling balls," Jones said, "the Burgundy Hammer, the Gold Rhino and the original Excaliber; all 15 1/2 pounds."


The five leagues are more than just fun and games for Jones.

"I like to know exactly what's happening in the center. I like to be where the bowlers cam find me if they have a problem," he said. "By bowling frequently, I can usually solve a problem while it's still a little problem."

Jones' attitude toward bowling is pretty simple -- and pretty sound.

"I always remember that the game is supposed to be fun," he said. "And I've always believed that if you make the spares the strikes will take care of themselves."

If you've never tried the lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, wait a few weeks. From Friday to Sept. 6, the center will be closed for the lanes to be reconditioned. But when you do visit, there's plenty of parking in back of the lanes, and soon there will be additional parking across the avenue.

The prices are great. Prime-time bowling is $2; off-times, the figure drops to $1.25 and on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 6 p.m. until closing, the price is 85 cents a game.


Scratch leagues, mixed and senior leagues are in action, and on Saturday morning, the Young American Bowling Alliance youths are on the lanes.

Tournament news

National Amateur Bowlers Inc. is finishing at Brunswick Perry Hall today. Squad time is noon and 1:30 p.m. First place is a guaranteed $1,000.

Next Saturday and Sunday, NABI will be at Fair Lanes Seminary.

* The Duckpin Bowlers Tour is playing host to the All-Star Singles at Fair Lanes Westview today.

Next weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the DBT will be in Hagerstown with doubles at Long Meadow and singles at Southside Bowl.