Paul Blair, at 50, looks as if he could step back out into center field for the Orioles and continue to cover it like wall-to-wall carpet. From 1964 through 1976, the lean, smooth-fielding Blair constructed an Orioles career out of robbing opposing ball players of base hits.
Today, still with the same smooth, fluid, deceptive movements, Blair is propelling a tenpin ball down the lanes with deadly accuracy.
Living in Owings Mills, Blair is bowling three days a week at Fair Lanes Westview. He's averaging more than 200.
Breaking his 15-pound-plus bowling ball over four or five boards, Blair lacks the devastating striking power of the crankers, but his smooth consistency assures few open frames.
Any 300 games in his career?
"Not yet," he replied, "And it's starting to get to me. I've had four 279s; twice I left the 8-pin, twice I left the 9-pin, and that tells you that I buried the ball every time."
It also tells you that Blair knows the game of tenpins. It's not a hobby that he picked up after his baseball career, it's been a longtime occupation.
"I started bowling in L.A. when I was 18," Blair said. "It's was my first year of organized ball and I injured my elbow. A friend gave me a tip to strengthen not only the elbow but my hands and arm as well [at that time the young Blair weighed only 140 pounds]. He told me to go bowl. I did, I never quit and I've never had a sore arm since that day."
A terrific start
Bill Burton couldn't wait for the new season to begin to post some impressive figures at Brooklyn Lanes.
And to pick up where he left off last season. In May, at Fair Lanes Southwest, Burton bowled a 248 game to break the house record of 245.
A few weeks ago the 139-average duckpin bowler attended a meeting at the Brooklyn center and afterward stayed around to ball a few games.
"I wasn't really concentrating all that much," Burton said. "After all it didn't mean anything as far as league play was concerned, but I did throw a 505 set."
DBT at Pikesville
The Duckpin Bowlers Tour drew 149 entries to the Sept. 16-18 singles event at Fair Lanes Pikesville. The total prize money was $2,690.
Larry Butch Smith of Walkersville fired a qualifying total that was 91 pins over his 124 average to take the top seed for the finals.
He needed only one more victory in the stepladder finals to win the championship.
He never faltered, throwing a 146 game to challenger Tom Gailliot's 124 to earn the $800 first-place prize.
The Duckpin Professional Bowling Association will play host to a triples tournament by Fair Lanes Owings Mills in lieu of the regular Pro-Am. Teams will consist of one pro and two amateurs. Shift times are at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.
7+ To reserve a spot, call (410) 363-6630.