Fitzgerald just misses perfect game


James Fitzgerald has been bowling since he was 17 years old.

"It's just been two years that I've really taken an interest in the game," he said. "Of course, the new equipment makes the game a little easier."

And some help from your friends.

On the next to last week of the season, in his Thursday League, the Get Togethers, he came close to perfection on the synthetic lanes of Brunswick Normandy.

"The first game wasn't much," the right-hander said. "Just 164 and the last game I wasn't really concentrating too hard."

That makes sense; in the middle game Fitzgerald pounded the (( pocket for 11 strikes, starting in the first frame. It was only the last ball that failed to put 10 pins into the pit.

"I usually put the ball out to about the 3-5 boards," he said. "That last ball I laid out to about the two-board and it just didn't quite make it back."

Eight pins and a 298 game were the result.

"I've had five 279 games," he said. "And then a few weeks ago I had a 286 but I still wasn't thinking of a 300."

The Ellicott City native lives in Woodlawn and limits his league bowling to the Thursday night league and "some subbing in a Tuesday league."

Using a 15-pound Tropical Storm bowling ball that Wayne Stepp fitted and drilled, Fitzgerald is finishing the season with a 200 average. His career-high three-game set is 731.

With little practice and one regular league, a 200 average is outstanding and Fitzgerald credits one individual with his scoring surge.

"It's been basically the help of one guy on my team," Fitzgerald said. "Artis Booker Sr. has been helping me a lot, keeping on my game, giving me pointers, making sure that I concentrate on each ball I throw. That's been the big difference."

A tenpin bowler for more than 15 years, Booker, of Catonsville, could never seem to get the 12 strikes or to put together three games for a 700 set.

It was just about a year ago that Booker corrected those oversights: he posted game of 225, 300 and 181 for a 806.

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