Frank Lanasa, 80, duckpin bowling champ and tugboat deckhand


Frank "Hank" Lanasa, the men's 1957 city duckpin bowling champ and a retired Canton tugboat deckhand, died Monday of heart failure at Mercy Medical Center. He was 80 and lived on Henry Street in South Baltimore.

He took The Evening Sun's 1957 men's bowling trophy, Baltimore's top honor that he shared alongside the fabled Elizabeth "Toots" Barger, who was the women's winner that year.

"Lanasa, cool and poker faced, was confidence personified," The Evening Sun reported of his performance at the old Recreation Center lanes on Howard Street. It was his 14th try to win the annual city championship, then regarded as one of Baltimore's major winter sports contests.

"He was a smooth bowler -- very accurate," recalled Cliff Kidd, a Northeast Baltimore champ and 1940 teammate of Mr. Lanasa who competed in the National Duckpin Tournament in Atlanta.

Mr. Lanasa, who stood 5 feet, 10 inches and had a stocky build, began his duckpin career at the Harford Lanes in Northeast Baltimore. Early on, he bowled as a team with his brother, Vincent "Murph" Lanasa, who was active in neighborhood politics.

"His advice to bowlers was not to get angry and defeat yourself," said his son, Robert Vincent Lanasa, who lives in Chester. "When you miss that spare, don't fall apart. Concentrate and pick up the pins on the third ball."

In 1944, Mr. Lanasa won the U.S. Classic bowling tournament and was considered one of the city's top bowlers for the next 25 years.

For many years he represented the old Plaza Lanes, a bowling alley on West Lexington Street near the Lexington Market.

In January 1956, he joined the 200 Club by blasting a 204 game at the Southway Lanes in South Baltimore. He repeated the score in 1967 at Fair Lanes Greenspring.

A hip ailment curtailed his bowling in the mid-1970s.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Lanasa was one of 12 children raised on Hamilton's Echodale Avenue.

He attended St. Dominic's parochial school and Garrett Heights Vocational School, where he learned carpentry.

As a young man he made ice cream for the old Murray's lunchroom at Loch Raven Boulevard and Taylor Avenue, and then worked at the Maryland Match Co.

He retired as shop foreman in 1985 from C. H. Harper Co. in Canton, where he worked on waterfront tugboats and repaired scows.

Bowling was not Mr. Lanasa's only sport. As a teen-ager, he was a quarterback for the old Arcadia sandlot football team that played on the fields of Herring Run Park in the 1930s.

In 1943, he married the former Virginia Freburger, who survives him.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, West and William streets.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Catherine Thomason of Forest Hill; two sisters, Sister Mary Alice Lanasa and Sister Francis Marie Lanasa, both of the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg; and five grandchildren.

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