John Hahn Jr. of Reisterstown has made changes in his game, and they have paid off.
"He's made a big change in his game," said Joe Rineer, a duckpin Hall of Famer. "And right now he's bowling better than I ever saw bowl before, I know he's picked up six or eight pins on his average this late in the season."
Hahn, bowling for "about 30 of his 38 years" laughed, "Joe's right, I did make a big change in my game."
And that game wasn't so bad. Hahn has a career high game of 224 and a high set of 572; last year he averaged in the high 140s.
Active in two leagues, Monday night at Fair Lanes Pikeville and in the Wednesday Pro Travel league, the Baltimore City native currently is averaging 153.
"I was throwing the ball pretty hard and hooking it pretty good," Hahn said.
"And my game was off, way off. I quit hooking, slowed down the ball and I'm bowling a lot better."
A lot better. During a four-week period he hammered out three sets over 500 and a 490.
"Strangely enough, the straight ball is producing a bunch of strikes," the right-hander said. "Until I started doing it [throwing straight down the middle] I wouldn't have believed it."
A good year
John Gaines spends a lot of time in the World Class Pro Shop he operates with his partner, Mark Anderson, and still finds time to bowl competitively . . . and win.
Gaines generates power while staying smooth. How much power?
In the Quantum Challenge Skins Game finals at the Showboat Lanes in Las Vegas last January, Gaines, in the ninth frame, hit the back part of the pocket and left a 10-pin. The head pin went to the wall, came back across the deck to take out the 10 on the fly, then hit the kickback and traveled back across to where the 7-pin usually sits. That's power.
In that same month, Gaines won the Fair Lanes New Year's event at the Towson center and the Metro Men's Scratch tournament at Seminary.
In May he qualified eighth at the ABC Masters at Mobile and finished in the top 63 in match play.
In June he was part of the Hammer team that secured seventh place in the Team Challenge at Country Club.
In July against 1,400 entries, at the Hi-Roller in Las Vegas, he pocketed $18,000, and he won the PBA Regional and $4,000 at Country Club lanes.
In August, in the Texas Scratch Championship at San Antonio, he finished 12th out of 600 entries.
September saw Gaines average over 250 for eight games in the Scratch Marathon at Country Club, and in Harrisburg, Pa., he was on the Hoinke Team that finished third in the Team Challenge.
November found Gaines in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the Hoinke Super Classic, winning more than $8,000 in sweepers.
The first week in December he was at the Dick Weber Lanes in St. Charles, Mo., placing second.
Back to back
Matthew Dietz, son of Gloria and Joe Dietz, bowls at the recently renovated Brooklyn Duckpin Lanes.
Bowling in the NDYA Saturday morning league since he was 3 years old (he will be 5 in May), Matthew uses the two-handed throw-between-the-legs release so popular with the little guys who can't fit their hand around a duckpin ball.
"Never, ever, bowled with bumpers," his mother said, "And he still throws a lot of strikes and spares."
And averages more than 50 pins a game.
And over a two-week period he won two trophies.
In the Brooklyn Duckpin Lanes Youth Thanksgiving Tournament, Matthew topped all the other young duckpin bowlers. In early December, bowling with his grandmother, Agnes Dietz, in the Adult/Youth event, he achieved another victory.