Schwoegler’s Alleys—Madison

May 28, 2023

437 W. Gilman St. 


Fidelia—New York (1902)

May 25, 2023
(L-R)--John Koster, Bill Rothermel, Will Amann, Pete Schultz, Otto Foege

(L-R)–John Koster, Bill Rothermel, Will Amann, Pete Schultz, Otto Foege

Marigold Ladies Sportwear (1948)

May 23, 2023

Jayhawk Bowl Postcard—Topeka (1964)

May 21, 2023

McCormick Place

May 18, 2023

2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.

Site of World’s Invitational Tournament, 1961-1962-1963

Bob Chase (1961)

May 16, 2023


Kansas City Bowling Star

Garden Bowl—Detroit (1913-2013)

May 14, 2023

4120 Woodward Ave.

Allie and Orf and Allison and Some Others

May 11, 2023

Mr. 900 aka Glenn Allison

Many of us have signed the petition asking that Glenn Allison’s 900 series be given official recognition.  For perspective, let’s look at the history of high-series records.

In 1908 A.C. Jellison of St. Louis became the first person to win an American Bowling Congress award for a 300 game.  Jellison’s 826 series was also the highest reported three-game set that year. However, ABC did not give out high series awards yet.  Though many leagues rolled three-game matches in 1908, many did not.  In fact, most record books of the era listed the best series as the 1628 six-game total rolled by Lee Johns in 1910.

As the three-game league match became standard, Jellison’s 826 gradually gained recognition as the highest-ever series.  In 1930 it was topped by another St. Louis bowler, future Hall-of-Famer Otto Stein, with 844.  Shortly afterward, ABC issued a statement saying Stein’s score was the “real record” for a three-game set.

Otto Stein

Yet there were still no high-series awards.  Stein’s 844 earned him nothing more than whatever he made in pot-games that night. Finally, in 1933, ABC began giving out an annual gold medal for the highest three-game series, and two bowlers—Virgil Gibbs of Kansas City and Mitzi Weinstein of St. Louis—set a new record, each with 847.

The next year Ray Holmes pushed the mark up to 853.  Holmes was yet another St. Louis bowler, and there was muttering about the easy conditions in that city.  Of course, with the Depression in its depth and many proprietors using cracked and light-weight pins, scores were up all over.  In 1937 a Cleveland bowler broke the Missouri monopoly, when Harvey Braatz shot 864.  Then came the big one.

The date was October 25, 1939.  The place was Lockport, New York. The bowler was Allie Brandt. The scores were 297-289-300—886.

Allie Brandt

Brandt’s 886 was a public relations bonanza for bowling.  He was a small man, 5-foot-5 and 125 pounds.  His size made the point that you didn’t have to be a muscle-bound giant to succeed on the lanes. For years, nearly every book about bowling featured a picture of the all-time record holder, “Little Allie Brandt.”

Brandt’s 886 was also a personal bonanza.  In 1960 he was elected to the Bowling Hall of Fame.  Brandt won a few tournaments, finished second in the All-Star, and had a second-place at the ABC.  It’s a fine resume, but no better than Bob Chase—except for that 886.

As the decades passed, 886 became bowling’s magic number, the record that might never be broken.  I even used 8-8-6 as the combination lock on my first briefcase.  The closest anyone came was 876, rolled by Carl Wilsing in 1966.

Ray Orf

The biggest threat to Brandt’s record came from Ray Orf of St. Louis. In fact, Orf actually topped the score with an 890 series on February 6, 1972.  ABC rejected the 890, Orf went to court, and eventually received a settlement.  Meanwhile, later in 1972, John Wilcox Jr. rolled an 885 series—which ABC certified.  Allie Brandt remained atop the heap, though scores in the 870s were starting to go up on the board.  Allison’s 900, in July 1982, was the culmination of this upward trend.  Sooner or later, someone was going to displace Little Allie.

Allie Brandt died on April 17, 1982.  His 886 was tied by Pat Landry in 1988.  In 1989 Tom Jordan rolled an 899 series, and was recognized as a new record by ABC.  In more recent times, of course, there has been something like two dozen sanctioned 900 series.

I don’t know how thorough the lane inspection was in 1939, when Brandt’s 886 was certified.  I don’t know whether the inspection of Allison’s lanes was more stringent—or, for that matter, the inspection of Orf’s lanes.  I don’t know whether sentiment for Little Allie affected the rejection of their scores.  But I do know it’s time to give Ray Orf and Glenn Allison their due.

First published in Bowlers Journal International in January 2015. For this story and 89 more, buy a copy of my book THE BOWLING CHRONICLES. Available on Amazon, or through McFarland Publishing.

Hastings Recreation—Hastings, MI (1946)

May 9, 2023

203 E. Woodlawn Ave.

Chief Halftown (1968)

May 7, 2023


Philadelphia Bowling Star and TV Icon