York County man joins elite group when he reaches USBC Open bowling milestone

Tim Shanabrook, 76, of Hanover recently competed in his 50th United States Bowling Congress Open Championship in Las Vegas.

Earlier this month, Hanover's Tim Shanabrook, 76, reached a rare bowling milestone.

He competed in his 50th United States Bowling Congress Open Championship in Las Vegas.

The York County man attended his first national tournament in 1965 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"Then," he said, "life hit me."

He got married, went into the service and had children. After a seven-year hiatus, he competed in Syracuse, New York, in 1973. 

He hasn't missed a tournament since.

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"I'm proud of the achievement," he said. "It takes dedication and a little bit of luck. It's certainly one of the highlights of my bowling career."

The only other active York County bowlers to compete in 50 or more national tournaments are Terry Brenneman (53), Barry Gulden (50) and Keith Conley (50).

The 50-year milestone didn't become a goal for Shanabrook until after his 30th tournament.

"At that point, I felt I really had to do it," he said.

For the past 33 years, Tim's son, Pat, has been part of a group who accompanied him to the tournaments.

"I hope Pat reaches the milestone, too," said the elder Shanabrook. "What a proud moment that would be."

The USBC tournament, which runs from mid-March through mid-July, is always challenging. The lane conditions are demanding and the schedule can be grueling. This year, Shanabrook competed in the team event, which didn't start until 10:30 p.m. and concluded around 1:30 a.m. He had to roll singles and doubles the following day, starting at 7 a.m.

"If you've never competed in the national tournament, you don't know how special it is," he said. "The friends you bowl with, the people you meet, the relationships you develop and the good times you have are what makes it special. Without the friendships, I don't think many people would compete in the tournament for 50 years."

Over the years, the veteran right-hander has traveled to USBC Open Championship tournaments in Huntsville, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Madison, Wisconsin; Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and other cities. 

Las Vegas and Reno are the most frequent hosts. More than 17,000 bowlers, a record turnout, competed in the 2009 tournament in Las Vegas.

Will Shanabrook travel to Reno to roll in next year's tournament?

"With all my arthritis, I think I'm staying home," said Shanabrook, who has been bowling for 64 years. 

He still plans, however, to continue to roll in two leagues at Hanover Bowling Centre.

Reach Barry Sparks at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.