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I thought I knew a lot about bowling …
By Mary Lynly

When I received the Bowlers Journal special 100th anniversary issue it was impressive without ever opening the publication – thanks Fran Deken who suggested the cover – black with a huge silver 100 in the center. I usually spot read BJ, my favorite authors, something that grabs my attention, opinion page, etc. I have now finished the ENTIRE magazine - twice. As I came to each piece, I thought, “Well, I’ll take a look at the first few paragraphs,” and each time I was drawn through the whole story. The ideology of each writer and their expressions about the sport over the years kept me wanting to read more. Each writer has an inimitable style and manner of expressing themselves with quotable commentary. In so many cases I had been there but I didn’t know the stories.

As I went through each story I began to wonder about the writers and Luby Publishing President Keith Hamilton’s article led me to the mini bios. Everyone who is a devotee of bowling, regular bowler, senior bowler, youth bowler or one who just follows bowling on TV should read this wonderful account of our sport through the eyes of a journalist.

It’s been a long time since I have been exhilarated about the story of bowling, let alone the whole publication – Good job BJ.

Catch page 37 – youth tournaments. Lofty goals for youth with an influx of big bucks and it still serves a small segment of youth and parents (for whom we do nothing) who foot the bill.

There’s the revivals like the Hoinke tournament that ran for many years and saw 1280 bowlers chase a first prize of $100,000. The PBA has come a long way and had its up and downs but PBA Commissioner Tom Clark says he is not crazy about the World Series of bowling but some interesting formats are working and to him – TV is the name of the game. In a pre-tech time no one would miss Championship Bowling on ABC TV. Today with TV at a premium WSB has an after the fact format – just top three vying for the prize and you may see only two matches for the men and one for the women – if you are lucky.

Did you know that “Otis” as in Otis elevators made the first automatic pin setter? Otis! I’ll bet you would have said Brunswick. Reading through the entire magazine makes one realize that being able to attract big sponsors and sustaining TV has always been a problem.

But, there is hope.

Having once been the critique guy, Tom Clark now says being at the administrative level you realize the answers are not that easy. Why has bowling been branded as something less than approving by a large group of people? “If true,” says Clark, why do organizations outside the industry, particularly charities, continue to depend on bowling to raise funds critical to their operations? Why can’t we get more out of it for bowling? Bowlers give $700,000 to $800,000 to the Susan B. Komen cancer fund when more women die of heart disease. Is it the best marketing plan on earth or have we drunk the coolade? Is Susan B. Komen our sponsor or are we their sponsor? Do you see any recognition for all bowling does for SBK? Don’t think so.

Do you see any movies with bowling in them (other than a cameo) – see Bob Johnson’s list on page 78. Amanda Blake who starred as Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke once owned three bowling alleys. In Johnson’s article about bowling songs I was surprised to see B-O-W-L-I-N-G was not among them. Maybe “Let’s Go bowling” or Bowling song” could be it. We sang it to death.

How much trivia do you know and memorabilia do you have? I have a bunch and I know I must pare some of this down but how can you get rid of things that have a special connection? I can look at something in every room in my house and see things that make me think of a dear departed friend, or one that is still among us and those things are hard to get rid of.

Did you know that Earl Anthony had 43 titles, ten majors and six Bowler of the Year awards? Did you also know that he had 43 second place finishes?! Take a look at the Strategies of Top Bowlers on page 112.

Coaching pioneers began with people like Dick Ritger and being the ever doting parents we sent our son John to the very first Dick Ritger Bowling Camp in Issaquah, Washington. He came home 10 pounds lighter and a seriously maimed thumb and fingers. They had bowled non-stop. Future camps were more controlled. There are many high level coaches today but unfortunately they reach only a small percentage of the bowlers. There are always the team bowlers who are in analysis paralysis and that can either harm or help. Eventually, who listens?

The Top 25 TV Bowling Moments – what do you think they are? Page 134. 100 “more” bowling places you must visit before you die. Ten California sites included – you might be surprised?

Unforgettable moments of the PBA Tournament of Champions: One of my memorable thrills was sitting in a hotel room with a few others watching with baited breath when Kelly Kulick took on Champion Chris Barnes and beat him soundly – the only female to ever win the tournament.

LISTS – wonder who won what and when? See “Lists.” Included All-time All America Teams – determined solely on the basis of All America team selections over the 75 years BJ has been naming teams. Walter Ray Williams and Wendy McPherson lead the pack – page 160.

Ever heard of Count Gengler? In the days when pot games were the big draw this fellow was taking home all the money until a proprietor put a slot on the lanes and used lighter pins. Fascinating article – read it. The Rego Park flash - page 220.

Presidents that bowled – this goes way back – page 226. The serious junior bowlers of California. Stories were told of the intense love for bowling and bowling in leagues – mostly scratch, with the idea of raising their average getting into a better league. Now practice is not a priority even though it is virtually free to league bowlers.

Page 241 – Barb Peltz article about how the “Rockford Five” changed women’s pro bowling forever. Len Nicholson’s article about his solution to one of those insolent bowlers – page 245.

Joan Taylor wrote about the Road Warriors, pros who traveled in motor homes and many with their families while mom home schooled the kids – Steve and Candy Cook for one.

Of course, had to chronicle Pete Weber – good article by Tom Clark. The Golden Age of TV when bowling destroyed golf, tennis and college basketball in the ratings – page 257 and on page 261 The good, bad, and the ugly of outdoor bowling and then there are Bob Johnson’s interviews with VIP’s and Jim Dressel’s bullet point columns :27 years of random musings.

If you have this BJ issue and haven’t read it – do it. If you don’t have it, send for it. It is a walk back in time and even though I knew of, or knew many of these people and felt in many ways I had been there – I didn’t know the stories.

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