Ever since the doors opened at the Hampstead Bowling Center on Main Street in the '80s, everyone knew that someone, someday would post a perfect game on the tenpin half of the center.
Derek Clevinger had the honor.
On Jan. 24, in his regular Tuesday night league at Hampstead, Clevinger started with a 244 game, then fired a solid 245. His last game was the first 300 game in Hampstead's history.
The 24-year-old didn't pick up a tenpin ball until he was out of high school.
"I was living in Florida then, Orlando," Clevinger said. "And a bunch of my friends said, 'Let's go bowling,' it was fun and I stayed with it."
He's active in three leagues -- Tuesday at Hampstead, Thursday and Friday at Bowl America Reisterstown. He owns an 801 series, shot in Orlando at Colonial Lanes, and his first 300 game was put on the sheet at Bowl America Reisterstown in October. He's averaging 215 currently.
"In Florida the first two games of the 800 set could have been 300s," he said. "They were both 279s and then I finished with a 243 for the 801."
When asked who his bowling coach was, Clevinger sounded a bit bewildered. "I've never had a coach. I've never had a lesson," he said with a laugh. "I remember the second year I was bowling a friend gave me a couple of tips, but that was it."
A late bloomer
"I was out of high school before I started bowling duckpins," fTC Billy Beam of Hampstead remembered. "Still, that's about 17 years ago."
His average, 131, in two leagues, proves that you don't have to start bowling as a preschooler to excel in the game.
Born and raised in Carroll County, he has put some impressive figures into the book.
"I guess it was about four-five years ago that I shot my high game and set," he said. "That was a 235 and a 543 [game and series, respectively]."
This year in the Tuesday Mixed and the Sunday Men's Commercial at Hampstead, things haven't been going too good.
"I've been struggling recently," Beam said. "I just couldn't seem to get anything going."
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, that changed. Beam pounded out games of 189, 156 and 178 on the duckpin lanes for a 523 series.
Beating the blues
Emory and Ella Huster know how to beat the midwinter blues.
"Oh, we come down [from near the Pennsylvania line] a couple times a week to bowl [duckpins]," Emory Huster said. "We don't bowl in a league, just for fun, for exercise."
The Husters, who have been married for 52 years, started bowling before they were married.
On a overcast Friday morning, at the end of January, with snow flurries swirling across the parking lot of Hampstead Bowling Center, the Husters were throwing duckpin balls . . . just for fun, as they've been doing for more than a half-century.
Thunderhead Westminster has a short-season duckpin league starting this month.
It's a mixed triples league on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. at a cost of $8 per week per bowler.
Tentative starting date is Feb. 22.