LONGTIME 10-pin bowler George Dugal, here at the Spare Time Family Fun Center in Brunswick.

LONGTIME 10-pin bowler George Dugal, here at the Spare Time Family Fun Center in Brunswick.

Four decades in, George Arthur Dugal is still bowling after all these years.

Longtime member of Yankee Lanes, now Spare Time Family Fun Center, the 59- year-old Dugal is a dyed-inthe wool, 10-pin enthusiast and shows no signs of slowing down.

When the Brunswick resident’s not stocking shelves at Hannaford Supermarket, or working behind the food counter at Spare Time, you’ll likely find the slender, affable Dugal rolling a ball down an oiled lane.

George Almasi

George Almasi

Oh, and yes, his resume is filled with perfect “300” games.

Born in Biddeford, Dugal spent most of his life in the Brunswick and started his love affair with bowling in 1972 as a 19-year-old member of the U.S. Army.

“Oh, I had bowled with friends growing up, but it was no big deal. It was only when I went into the service and got into a summer league that I really became to like it.”

What appealed to George was that “besides bowling as a sport, it’s the friends that you make down through the years, you can’t beat it.”

Currently, George is only competing in two leagues and no state competition, whereas in the past he might’ve bowled in up to five or six nights, along with team action in state-wide tournaments.

The Monday Night Merchants, which he has been involved with for 35 consecutive years, and the Lewiston Thursday Night League are his friendly hobbies.

“Basically, they’re the same in that the guy you beat, with handicap, you get a point. A person can get three points a night for team totals and there are two points for the game and four for the series.

“Years ago when it only cost $5 to bowl in a league I bowled five nights, plus a travel league on weekends. The $5 included your bowling for that night, three games, money for prize funds and the treasurer/ secretary’s salary.”

Nowadays, a league can cost $15-17 for each night.

“It all depends what leagues you get into. The men’s leagues want money, but, like, mixed leagues they’re not so bad.”

He’s gone to one American Bowling Congress (now United States Bowling Congress) national tournament, that being in 1990 in Reno, Nev.

“Not too bad, but back then I was still bowling conventional style instead of fingertip. Conventional I could put my fingers all the way into the ball, where fingertip is that the tips of your fingers is all that is holding the ball.”

He’s seen some changes and improvements down through the seasons, mainly with the ball.

“The balls are the big thing. When I first started bowling, they were all rubber. You can’t use them anymore. They were outlawed from the national organizations because of how the lanes are dressed, the oil, and how they’re taken care of. Now, they’re mostly synthetic lanes, and the balls react differently. What type of ball you get and how they’re drilled, all come into play.

“Actually, I’ve only bought one bowling ball in 40 years. Everything else has been given to me.

“And, I’ve never had to change any of the holes … they just fit my fingers. I was very lucky. One guy I worked with was leaving the area and he was selling all of his balls, so I was buying them for 10 bucks apiece. Nowadays you can pay anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on what kind of ball you want.”

The lanes can also vary from building to building.

“It really depends on the house. Sometimes you come in and they’re bone-dry … there is oil out there, but it’s just how much they put on and how far out they put it and how much on the sides. They can set their machines to any type of pattern they want out there. And, they do a pretty good job around here maintaining the lanes.”

George smiles when recalling his 300 games, of which three came here in Brunswick and one in Augusta.

The first one was in 2002.

“That one came in a Wednesday Night League. It was actually the last game of my set, my third game. And, I had just ended my second game with eight (strikes) in a row. And then, threw 12 more for my 300.

“People were watching, but a lot of times you’ll see people get a lot of strikes in a row and then they don’t. Everything was going well for me and I just went with the flow.

“The only one I really knew I was getting was my second one. That was in Augusta Tuesday Night Merchants. I had thrown my eighth one in a row and turned around to my teammates and said, ‘I am bowling a 300 … I have no doubt’

“I could feel it. And on the last one (strike), I gave it a little extra, threw my arms up and said ‘I told you I was going to roll a 300.’”

He’s also rolled a 299 and a bunch of 280’s. “In any other house in the state, my high is a 279, which is 11 out of 12 strikes. If I don’t have a ‘300’ in it, then it’s a 279.”

He likes the competition and camaraderie bowling offers. Have ball will travel. “Anyone can be beaten on any given day … no one’s perfect.”

George likes to tell the story of running into a former Yankee Lanes bowler while on the golf links and how talk turned to bowling. He was asked to be a sub in an Augusta league. “I thought, sure, I could be a sub … it’s a different house to bowl in.”

On the very first night, midway into the very first game, he was then asked if he wanted to bowl full-time and he did … for 15 years.

Injuries have come and gone, but failed to slow him down. Once he tore ligaments in his left foot, his sliding foot. And he was relegated to using crutches.

“Then I developed bursitis in my right shoulder. I wanted to bowl the following Monday and nothing was going to stop me … I was going to bowl. I went to the doctor and he gave me two cortisone shots in my shoulder. And I drank a little bit and bowled. I did all right and each game got better.

“I tell people that until I am dead I’ll always be here at the bowling alley. That’s what I like to do. I don’t even come here to practice, I just bowl my leagues. Sometimes I don’t even do practice balls. I know what I’m supposed to do out there.

“You know, it’s funny … I still suffer from arthritis, but when I put my shoes on and bowl, the pain miraculously goes away.”

GEORGE ALMASI is the Times Record sports editor. He can be reached at [email protected]timesrecord.com

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