Pro bowler Arturo Quintero came to Maine for the first time last summer to compete in a tournament at Portland’s Bayside Bowl. Quintero was so captivated by the experience that he moved his family to Maine and now is sponsored by Bayside on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

When Arturo Quintero was a boy growing up in Mexico, he had trouble controlling his temper. If his bowling ball veered into the gutter or curved away from the pocket, Arturo could get upset.

Gradually, he learned self control and became the best bowler in Mexico, surpassing his older brother, Mario, and competed internationally for 16 years.

Not long ago, Quintero spoke with a sports psychologist about his early struggles, in the context of his resurrected prospects on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.

“He was telling me at that point (as a boy), I’ve got a beast in me that I’ve got to control,” said Quintero, now 44 and married with two children. “He said, ‘Now you’ve got to change that. You’ve got to take that beast out again. He was sleeping for so many years that you need to put that beast out again.’”

Last July, the beast came out at Bayside Bowl. A relative unknown, Quintero was chosen third-to-last in the PBA League draft for the team competition in Portland known as the Elias Cup. His fiery passion and Bayside’s whoop-it-up crowds proved a perfect match.

The bowler with green hair, praying wife and adorable kids emerged as the emotional flashpoint of a Portland Lumberjacks squad that staged a thrilling comeback in the Elias Cup – in large part because Quintero rolled seven consecutive strikes over the best-of-five series, reacting with increasing animation – to earn an unprecedented third consecutive team title.


So enamored was Quintero with the Bayside bowling community – and the Bayside bowling community with Quintero – that he and Bayside owner Charlie Mitchell struck a deal. If Quintero moved to Maine, Bayside would sponsor him this year on the PBA Tour.

“I fell in love with the place,” said Quintero, expressive hands gesturing at the Alder Street establishment before a recent practice session.

Tom Clark, commissioner of the PBA Tour, said Quintero’s ascension and then relocation here is one of the craziest bowling tales he’s heard.

“That a Mexican bowler would come to Portland, Maine, and have this unforgettable performance at that event … and then that he would not leave!” Clark said. “That is a truly remarkable story.”

Pro bowler Arturo Quintero moved his family from Dallas to South Portland after competing in a tournament at Portland’s Bayside Bowl last summer. From left: Quintero, daughter Silvanna, 9; wife, Laila (holding their dog, Pancho); and son Santiago, 11. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Actually, much of July and all of August elapsed between the time Quintero drove his family home to Dallas from the made-for-television tournament in Portland and when they returned to Maine in September to enroll Santiago, 11, and Silvanna, 9, in local schools.

But Quintero well remembers seeing that Welcome to Maine sign for the first time last summer, crossing the border from New Hampshire, after visiting Washington, D.C., and New York on their six-day journey from Texas.


“The Way Life Should Be,” Quintero said. “I told my wife, ‘I have a feeling about this place. I know something very strong is going to happen here.'”

Until then, Quintero’s professional career had been somewhat spotty. He grew up in Mexico City and started bowling at 8, nine years younger than his brother Mario. Portland Lumberjacks manager Tim Mack saw a 15-year-old Arturo at a tournament in Cincinnati and became an early sponsor.

“Just a kid who was full of passion and energy and wasn’t afraid of the spotlight,” Mack said. “He comes from a great family in Mexico. Three brothers and a sister. He’s a good human being. I always believed in him.”

Quintero won a few tournaments in Spain and another in Israel. He bowled on the European Tour and ranked among the top eight. In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, he rolled a perfect 300 game that earned him a kilo of gold and a nickname, El Niño de Oro. The Golden Kid.

He got a taste of the PBA Tour in 2004 and 2008, playing one event each year, and won a little over $2,000. He returned in 2015, played five events, and cashed one paycheck for $505. Then, in 2016, he won prize money in four of nine events, bringing home $15,300.

Away from the Tour, he focused on business. He ran restaurants, nightclubs and a bowling alley.


Some tournaments in Mexico also offer a prize to the first bowler with a perfect score. It’s a car, and Quintero has won four of them. He said the pressure mounts with every frame because when someone gets close, everyone stops and gathers behind the bowler.

“It’s really loud,” he said. “I love that stuff. When I’m in those kind of moments, I transform into another person or something.”

Consider the Elias Cup finals, in which each player on a team of five bowls two frames per game. The Lumberjacks fell behind 2-0 in the finals to the Dallas Strikers but rallied in part because Quintero, their rookie, rolled nothing but strikes in Games 2, 3, 4 and his first frame in Game 5.

As his confidence grew, so did the volume of his self-talk. At first he was quietly saying, This shot is for you, Dad, or This shot is for you, Mom. By Game 4 he was referring to Bayside as his house (“Ésta es mi casa!“) and by Game 5 he was practically yelling it. His reactions grew more animated as well, from arms upraised at the crowd to uppercut fist pumps to spinning on his back, break-dance style, after his strike streak reached seven.

“I knew he had a huge personality,” said Mitchell, Bayside’s owner. “Tim (Mack) swore he’s money when it counts. He always comes up clutch in those big situations.”

Quintero’s magical run ended on a 4-10 split, the only frame he left open in the five-game finals. Clark, as commissioner, awarded the Mark Roth MVP trophy to Portland’s leadoff bowler, veteran Kyle Troup, and Troup quickly handed it to Quintero, saying, “I think this is supposed to go to Arturo.”


Quintero still has it.

At the celebratory rooftop party following Portland’s come-from-behind victory, Quintero and Mitchell made plans to gather with their families the following day to swim and go boating at Mitchell’s home on Forest Lake in Gray. They discovered much in common.

“We immediately had a pretty strong connection and ideas about entertainment and running bars and clubs,” Mitchell said. “In the afterglow of a title, you’re sort of enthusiastic about things and we had a vague idea that we might want to go into business together.”

“I tell him I really love this place,” Quintero said. “I was telling him, I could live here.”

Back in Dallas, his home for the previous year and a half, Quintero found his fondness for Maine remained strong. Laila, his wife, was supportive. He flew back to Portland and Mitchell gave him a tour. They worked out a deal and found a rental in South Portland. As luck would have it, the owner speaks Spanish.

As for Maine’s cold weather, Quintero said his family actually likes it. They’ve gone ice skating with Mitchell; his wife, Kaylee; and their two young children. They’ve picked apples and blueberries in Limerick and been to a pumpkin festival in Cumberland. Silvanna does gymnastics. Santiago plays soccer, basketball and football. He also bowls, and broke 200 when he was 9.


At some point this winter, Quintero and Santiago hope to go skiing at Pleasant Mountain with Ben Ferri, who is known as Sticky Fingers at Bayside and was Quintero’s teammate in the fall draft league. Yes, after his Elias Cup performance, Quintero (known locally as El Niño) was the top pick in the local draft league, which has a Yankee Swap component, meaning the captain with the worst average had first dibs on him.

“It was a ton of fun,” Ferri said about having a teammate who’s on the PBA Tour. “His personality fits the Bayside vibe.”

Arturo Quintero and his family drove to Maine last summer, where he competed in the PBA Tour’s Elias Cup at Bayside Bowl. He was struck by the Welcome to Maine sign on the highway. “The Way Life Should Be,” Quintero said. “I told my wife, ‘I have a feeling about this place. I know something very strong is going to happen here.'” Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Despite Quintero’s presence, their squad managed to win only one match all season. The highlight for Ferri was rolling a personal-best 268 on a night Quintero notched a 262. They took a photo together in front of the screen showing the scores.

“He’s a professional bowler, and we’re all huge bowling nerds,” Ferri said. “We’re there to have fun and he makes sure that you’re having fun. If you want any pointers, he’s giving those to you. He’s just very involved and genuinely so. It’s fun to be around and fun to see.”

The PBA Tour schedule began last week in Indianapolis with the U.S. Open, the first of roughly 20 tournaments in which Quintero plans to compete this year. As a citizen of Mexico, he has a P-1 visa designed for artists and entertainers as well as professional athletes who perform at an internationally recognized level.

Last year, his best on the tour, Quintero won $67,845 in prize money, the bulk of it ($45,000) coming with a third-place showing at the Players Championship last January after he won the Southwest Regional qualifier. The Players is one of bowling’s major tournaments, and he said the vibe is nothing like at Bayside.


“Everybody’s polite and (quiet) and waits until you finish and then everybody claps and that’s it,” Quintero said. “Here, when you’re in the lanes, everybody’s screaming. It’s a totally different atmosphere.”

One he found irresistible.

Now, with Mitchell’s sponsorship, he can focus on his bowling career. He works out at Planet Fitness, trains at Portland Boxing Club and hones his craft at Bayside Bowl, where the staff has helped him by applying to his practice lanes the different oil patterns affecting the ball that he will encounter on tour. Bayside also has begun offering Latin Nights, with a disc jockey and dancing on the mezzanine. Arturo and Laila are happy to offer tips on salsa moves.

Last year was Arturo Quintero’s best on the PBA Tour, winning $67,845 in prize money. He now is sponsored on the tour by Bayside Bowl. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“We have definitely had an uptick in Spanish-speaking customers,” Mitchell said. “It’s exciting for the growth of the business. Everybody Arturo meets seems to enjoy hanging out with him. He’s really great at building community.”

Mitchell said that, unlike traditional bowling sponsorships, which cover travel expenses in exchange for a portion of prize winnings, Bayside pays Quintero a flat fee to wear its logo prominently on tour and to otherwise promote Bayside Bowl. Laila Quintero, a graphic designer, made the jerseys her husband will wear in competition.

Quintero said he’s now in the best physical shape of his life.


“I don’t remember feeling like that when I was 20 or 30,” he said. “They treat me like a professional athlete, and that makes me feel special.”

The Elias Cup returns to Portland in September. Quintero isn’t guaranteed a spot on the Lumberjacks, because Mack and Mitchell can protect only three players from their championship quintet. Last spring they made a trade and drafted left-hander Packy Hanrahan with the third pick and the unheralded Quintero with the 18th. Veterans Troup, Wes Malott and Kris Prather have won multiple titles for Portland.

The draft, however, is months away. For now, Quintero is living his dream.

“That sign (at the Maine border) is really true,” he said. “I’m telling you, I’m in wonderland. It’s crazy. I just love this place.”

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