Clark Lanes—Clark, NJ (1968)

January 26, 2020

140 Central Ave.

Walter Johnson (1948)

January 23, 2020

(1906-1973)

All-American, 1947-48

The Patriotic Bowling Tournament

January 21, 2020

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered World War I.  Among the unforeseen results was the largest bowling tournament the world had ever seen.

Germany was the enemy, and anti-German hysteria was sweeping the country.  Schools dropped German language courses.  Opera houses cancelled Wagner programs.  Restaurants changed sauerkraut to “liberty cabbage.”  Some resident Germans were tar-and-feathered.

Because bowling was still close to its German roots, some super-patriots talked of outlawing the game.  With many proprietors and tenpin officials sporting German names—Bensinger, Baumgarten, Bruck, Schuenemann, Mueller, and so on—the major players sounded like a roll call of the Kaiser’s General Staff.

It happened that many army recruits from Chicago were taking their basic training at Camp Grant, near Rockford.  Word reached home that the recreational facilities at the camp were limited.  The boys didn’t even have a bowling alley.

ABC Treasurer Pasdeloup

ABC treasurer Frank L. Pasdeloup announced the solution in Bowlers Journal in February 1918. The city and state bowling associations, along with the local proprietors, were going to build bowling facilities at Camp Grant.  To raise money, they planned to stage the Patriotic Bowling Tournament.  Now all the doubters would know that bowling truly was an All-American game.

Over the next few months, the tournament committee rounded out the details.  They decided to make the Patriotic Tournament a full-blown “ABC-style” show, with Team, Doubles, and Singles events.  All male bowlers in Illinois were eligible.  Entry fees were set at a modest $1 per event.  Bowlers would be allowed to shoot at the establishment of their choice.

The last proviso set the tone for the tournament.  With so many houses involved, scoring conditions couldn’t be consistent, so the Patriotic Tournament would forget about competitive standings.  Prizes would be awarded through a blind drawing.

Public response was enthusiastic.  As Patriotic Tournament Week got closer, entries poured in.  Some leagues simply added an extra week to their schedules and bowled as a unit.  Churches, fraternal societies, athletic clubs, offices, and factories all organized teams.  At the Chicago Stock Yards, rival meatpacking companies engaged in friendly competition to see which one would field the most teams.  Armour won, and had to reserve an entire floor of Wabash Recreation to accommodate its bowlers.  The largest contingent from a single business was the 104 teams representing the Crane Plumbing Company.

The games began on Saturday, May 25.  One bowler at Prima Recreation got into the patriotic spirit by showing up dressed as Uncle Sam.  A total of 1,066 teams participated, including 134 from towns outside Chicago.  The Doubles entry was 762, while the Singles attracted 1,585.  All entry figures were records.  In fact, the biggest bowling tournament up to that time had been the 1916 ABC at Toledo, with 756 teams.

The concluding festivities were held at Randolph Recreation on June 22.  Former ABC president Judge Howard was master of ceremonies.  Medals were presented for the highest scores in each division:  Team—Olsens (3223), Doubles—Hank Marino and Bob Rolfe (1336), Singles—Robert Phelps (759).  Then the Judge began drawing for the prizes.

The monetary awards were in the form of war certificates and thrift stamps, ranging in denomination from $1 through $20.  Various businesses had donated merchandise.  Boxes of cigars and subscriptions to Bowlers Journal were hot items, though the prize list included socks, straw hats, fountain pens, a new bowling ball, a case of marshmallows, and an “assortment of cookie treats.”  Everyone who bowled in the tournament received a red-white-and-blue badge.

The Patriotic Bowling Tournament raised $2,646.48, an impressive sum in 1918.  Unfortunately, government red tape then began to tangle things.  Army officials backed out of their commitment to provide a building for the lanes.  Angry words were exchanged, letters were fired off to the Secretary of War.  Both the YMCA and the Knights of Columbus were approached to co-sponsor the Camp Grant bowling facility.  Neither group was interested.

At last, the Great Lakes Naval Training Camp agreed to accept the gift.  Ten new bowling lanes were installed at the base.  On December 19, 1918, the facility was formally dedicated.  Its work finished, the Patriotic Bowling Tournament committee disbanded.  By then the war had been over for a month.  But in this case, it was the thought that counted.

First published in Bowlers Journal, October 1995.  For this story and 89 more, buy a copy of my book The Bowling Chronicles.  Available on Amazon, or from McFarland Publishing for bulk orders.  A great gift for any bowler!

Stroh’s Beer Bowling Book (1956)

January 19, 2020

A Joe Falcaro Bibliography

January 16, 2020

Joe Falcaro (1896-1951) spent most of his bowling career in New York, knew how to get publicity, and often antagonized people.  When he won the match-game title, he defended once, then fended off all challenges until he was put out of action by a gunshot wound.  These facts have caused many historians to undervalue Falcaro’s bowling talent, and delayed his Hall of Fame election until 1975.  Yet the 1999 Bowlers Journal poll ranked him as high as #27 of 20th Century bowlers–which is still about 26 places lower than Chesty Joe would have ranked himself. 

BOOKS

Falcaro, Joe.  Bowling Handbook.  (Dell, 1953)

Falcaro, Joe, and Murray Goodman.  Bowling For All.  (A.S. Barnes, 1943)

Schmidt, J.R.  “Undefeated Champion” in The Bowling Chronicles.  (McFarland, 2017), pp. 225-226.

ARTICLES

Falcaro, Joe.  “Chesty Pops Off.”  Bowlers Journal, Oct 1935:20.

__________.  “How to Bowl.”  Mechanix Illustrated, Feb 1940:35-41.

Frank, Stanley.  “The Falcaro Strikes Again.”  Saturday Evening Post, Mar 2, 1946:28-31.

Iden, George.  “Ward vs. Falcaro.”  Bowling, Nov 1982:6,34.

Jacobs, Bruce.  “Just Call Me Fabulous Falcaro.”  Sport, Apr 1948:40-41,72.

Kahl, Harold.  “Who Is Bowling’s Match Champion?”  Bowlers Journal, Jan 10, 1931:17.

Kalman, Victor.  “Falcaro the Great.”  Sports Illustrated, Sep 13, 1954:76.

Luby, Mort.  “Mort’s Meanderings.”  Bowlers Journal, Oct 1935:20,32.

__________.  “Post Mort ‘Ems.”  Bowlers Journal, Oct 1951:17.

__________.  “Scribner Leads Falcaro by 158 Pins.”  Bowlers Journal, Dec 21, 1929:1,4.

McDonough, Pat.  “Metropolitan Merry-Go-Round.”  Bowlers Journal, Aug 1947:29.

__________.  “Metropolitan Merry-Go-Round.”  Bowlers Journal, Oct 1951:20.

__________.  “Most Colorful Personality.”  Bowling, May 1978:4.

Ryder, C.W.  “Falcaro Stages Great Finish to Beat Scribner.”  Bowlers Journal, Dec 28, 1929:1,4.

Schmidt, J.R.  “Chestful of Mouth.”  Bowlers Journal, Apr 1992:91.

Schoeman, Byron.  “Chesty Joe Falcaro.”  Bowling, Sep 1973:4,30.

Scribner, Joe.  “It Seems To Be Up, Mr. Falcaro.”  Bowlers Journal, Mar 28, 1931:9.

Sixty, Billy.  “Chesty Joe.”  Bowlers Journal, May 1975:69-70.

__________.  “Chesty Joe Falcaro Dies.”  Milwaukee Journal, Sep 8, 1951:10.

__________.  “Why Not an ABC Match Champ?”  Bowlers Journal, Nov 1, 1931:5,34.

Stein, Otto.  “Sez You!”  Bowlers Journal, Nov 1935:6.

Taylor, Robert Lewis.  “Man With a Thumb.”  The New Yorker, Apr 5, 1941:25-34.

“Bowling.”  Time, Jan 6, 1930:22.

“Bowling Champ Shows How He Gets That Way.”  Bowlers Journal, Jan 10, 1932:27.

“Chesty Joe Has Kid Troup Now.”  Bowlers Journal, Sep 1938:40,45.

“Eastern Stars Who Will Compete in ABC.”  Bowlers Journal, Jan 12, 1924:43.

“Falcaro, Miller Start Match March 31 at Philadelphia.”  Bowlers Journal, Feb 23, 1933:3.

“Falcaro Sets World Mark for Five Game Series.”  Bowlers Journal, Dec 21, 1933:1.

“Falcaro Trims Scribner by 993 Pins for Singles Match Title.”  Bowlers Journal, Dec 15, 1931:6.

“Famous Matches: The Blouin-Falcaro Setto.”  Bowlers Journal, Jan 21, 1928:65.

“Gotham Stars Defeat Philadelphians by Large Margin.”  Bowlers Journal, Dec 6, 1930:1,4.

“Joe Falcaro ‘Bowling For Strikes’ in Movies.”  Bowlers Journal, Nov 1940:37.

“Joe Falcaro Continues to Crack ‘Em Here as He Did in the East.”  Bowlers Journal, Mar 21, 1925:30.

“Joe Falcaro Shot on Eve of Match!”  Bowlers Journal, Mar 30, 1933:1.

“Knox and Falcaro in Eastern Title Battle.”  Bowlers Journal, Jan 19, 1929:46.

“Miller, Eastern Match Champ, to Meet Falcaro March 4th.”  Bowlers Journal, Feb 9, 1933:1,4.

“Ten Pin Sorcery.”  Bowlers Journal, Mar 1946:10-13.

Obituary.  Bowling, Oct 1951:25.

Johnny Petraglia for Bowl-a-sizer (1971)

January 14, 2020

Gateway Bowl—Chicago

January 12, 2020

6432 W. North Ave. 

Gateway Lanes—Benton, KY (1958)

January 9, 2020

U.S. 68

Gateway Inn—Land o’ Lakes, WI (1937)

January 7, 2020

4103 County Highway B

International Bowling Association Button (1919)

January 5, 2020