It takes all kinds at Bowling Green in Cicero, N.Y.
I came prepared to capture the colorful spectrum of bowling balls that roll these days at my Thursday night league just to the north of Syracuse.
The other squad was dressed in matching team shirts, and not T’s, either. Our CiCi Pizza T-shirts, received at the start of the season three years ago, have all seemed to have been lost in the laundry. I still have mine, but since Steve, Randy, Tiny and Tom have stopped wearing theirs, I go free-style on T-shirt choices weekly, too.
Five guys to a squad would mean a manageable 10 balls per lane in a sensible world. But many bowlers bring a strike ball and a spare ball — a bowling ball made out of different composition they can throw faster and straighter. That can make for a crowded situation. One opponent Thursday night had four or five balls. I couldn’t tell. His teammate squawked when more than one bowler left their second ball on the main rack, causing a first shot rolled to get perilously close to becoming jammed inside the ball return. No fingers were lost. Whew.
My brand new iPhone 6 allowed me to snap the center island of the other five sets of lanes with some stealth while regular play was going on, with a minimum of raised eyebrows.
Of course, no bowling center, no matter how small — and 12 lanes is not large — would be complete without offering a selection of new balls for bowlers frustrated with their balls. There must be a machine to drill the finger holes hanging out somewhere on the premises. I don’t know. I bought my ball from and had it drilled by a great guy named Vern who runs a shop out of his garage 15 miles to the north, in Central Square. Vern used to follow the Professional Bowlers Association from city to city and drill balls for the best in the game, and he also invented developments for bowling balls adopted by major companies. He had his own line of bowling balls for a while. His prices can’t be beat. Everybody on my team has bought their balls from Vern except Tiny.
When leagues are not rolling, bowling centers make their bread by charging per game. Open bowling, it’s called, and it costs a pretty dollar these days. Beginners don’t often have their own balls, so alleys have racks of house balls available. Open bowling is marked by beginners walking up and down the racks hoisting balls to find one of proper weight, eight to 16 points, and sticking their fingers in the holes to find the best fit.
When I was a kid bowling in a youth league every Saturday morning, I’d take my favorite house ball and stick it in on the most out-of-the way rack in the bottom row, furthest from the center, and hope I’d find it there the next week. That ploy would work most of the time.
My last bowling league post, my blogging friend Kerbey of I Don’t Get It noted my lack of traditional bowling shoes. I told her that, yes, indeed, the old-school bowling shoe look is pretty grand, but I just don’t find the about the style in my Syracuse area. I looked again Thursday to make sure.
For those interested, we won two of three games, five of seven points. I rolled a bit below my average of 159. But this is the second of our two bowl-on-Sunday-morning weeks to make up for Thursday holidays, so hopefully I’ll rise above as you’re reading this.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about bowling balls? Would you go for a solid-color bowling shoe or the saddle-shoe look, and why? What’s your favorite team sport to play as an adult, why, and do you wear a uniform?