It isn’t often one of my bowling stories ends up in the business section of The Advocate.
Unfortunately that happened last week with the news that Metro Bowl will close its doors some 54 years and two weeks after its grand opening as a 24-lane bowling center named Plank Bowl in 1959.
The house, now with 40 lanes, has had its moments over the years, most recently as a cohost for the 1993 Women’s International Bowling Congress championships and just last year for the Bowler’s Journal and BTM/123 side events for the USBC Open.
People have been talking about special moments and, while there are times I’ve hated the way I bowled there in league over the years (Like it’s really the lanes’ fault, right? It’s never the guy throwing the ball), there is one special moment that happened a couple of years ago that I’ll always remember: My one and only 700 series came at Metro.
By the way, wouldn’t it be something if someone took a shot at the city record before the lanes are shut down for the last time?
In our story on the closure, it was mentioned how manager Allen Cope is working hard to get all the leagues and bowlers positioned for next fall’s leagues at the other Baton Rouge Malco Theaters center at Circle Bowl. But, and this should be commended on both sides, Cope is also working with the people at All-Star Lanes to move some leagues and bowlers there.
In an email earlier this week, Cope told me: “Seems the most overwhelming sense from everyone is saying goodbye to memories. Most of my bowlers grew up in junior leagues here and been bowling here before I was born. On a positive note, it has been extremely rewarding to me to talk to bowler after bowler and listen to their stories and their high praise for the staff at Metro and Malco. Most understand and I am concentrating on placing every bowler in a league somewhere. I just want them to keep bowling.”
That last line is so important. The new bowling venue, Premier Lanes in Gonzales, has begun league bowling, and how many new bowlers it will receive from Metro will be important as the local scene moves forward.
There are tournaments booked at Metro that will have to make some changes, including the Bowlers First events in June and August. There is a trio tournament in August, and Cope is working on times and places for those events.
Two other major events have been decided. The Greater Baton Rouge city championships will be Oct. 26-27 and Nov. 9-10, moving from Metro to Circle. And The National Bowling Association regional set for Nov. 21-24 will now have its men’s doubles and singles moving from Metro to Circle; the women’s doubles and singles moving from Circle to Premier, and the All-Star will still have team and mixed doubles.
One question of course is the March BR Singles event and whether tournament officials will decide to have all three events at Circle each year. I don’t believe Premier is big enough to host the event.
But there is some good news about one Metro Bowl event. For years, if you wanted to bowl on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, the no-tap doubles at Metro Bowl run by Jane Lambert was the place to be. Well, in recent times the event slowed and eventually ended its long run. Now, on Saturday, May 18, it comes back to Metro Bowl one final time at 7:30 p.m. Entry blanks are coming out this week, and it will be limited to 80 doubles teams. Sounds like a great way to send the old Metro lady out.
There’s still a month of memories to be made at Metro Bowl.
The Anchor Lady Trio pays some big money, and the event concluded Sunday with the team of Derwin Pitre, Conan Flowers and Hayley Veitch taking the $3,600 top prize with a score of 2,336.
The $2,400 second prize went to Juan Coston, TerranceWilliams and Sue White (2,235). Third place, worth $1,200, was split among Dalton Allen, Brian Yoches and Donna Green (2,218).
This has been a good event for a few years, and hopefully they can also find a local spot for the future.
Braxter Smothers showed the Metro Bowl lanes are going out in style with an 814 that included a 299 game to lead the city bowlers. Mary Mansur at Circle had a 781 that included a 268 high game.
Dominic Taylor had a 749 (278) set for the youth bowlers, and check out an impressive 770 series that included a 288 by Bruce Bennett in the senior leagues. Vernon Landry also had 701 for the senior set.
Jack Inthavong had his first 700 (722), as did Charlie Jenkins (721). Senior Phyllis Monaret had an all-spare game of 183.
Senior Diane Flowers was 50 pins over average, and Eric White alternated strikes and spares for a “Dutch 200” game. Elaine Ramagost picked up the 6-7-10 split, and Mikell Dufour had a 508 (first 500 set).
Terry Zacharchenko posted 297, Joe Barnes 299 and Steve Snider and Mike Cook had perfection with 300 games.
We are back in two weeks on May 14 with a report on my first visit to the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. A report on my bowling in the NBS is still to be determined.
Until then, good luck and good bowling.
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