SHELOCTA — After bowling for more than 50 years, Ed Mrasz is still seeking that elusive perfect 300 game.
At 86, Mrasz, of Shelocta, said his knees and his back hurt, but he still bowls every week, in a league at Lee’s Lanes in Parks Township, Allegheny County.
Because he still loves it.
“As long as I can keep moving, I’ll be there,” said Mrasz, who has bowled in the East Vandergrift Slovak Club league for 50 years. In his youth, he bowled in the Polish National Alliance before it disbanded.
Mrasz once boasted of a 186 average, but his average in recent years has slipped to a still-respectable 149. His high game remains a 279 (with a 703 series).
“I get my share of strikes, but I keep missing that 10 pin,” he said.
Mrasz is the first member of the league with 50 years in — and he has a plaque to prove it. His uncle, who is five years older, quit before he reached the milestone.
Mrasz, who retired from U.S. Steel in 1986, began bowling with duck pins — shorter pins with a smaller ball. In the intervening years, he said, the sport has grown in popularity.
And he’s rarely missed a Thursday bowling night in any 32-week season.
“It’s a good thing none of my kids were born on a Thursday,” he said.
League winners get a championship jacket, of which Mrasz has several, a real source of pride.
A widower since the death of his second wife in 2000, Mrasz has four sons and two daughters and is a great-grandfather. One of his sons, Ed Mrasz Jr., 36, drives his father to the lanes every week and has himself bowled in the league since he was 18. His exposure to the sport started much earlier, though, when he watched his father bowl.
“I don’t know how he does it,” said Mrasz Jr. On some nights, he said, his father still beats him. “I don’t know if I’ll still be bowling then.”
“You have a chance to get to 50 years, too,” the elder Mrasz pointed out.