Archive for May, 2019

Gamble United Pin-Leasing Service (1960)

May 30, 2019

Brunswick or AMF?

May 28, 2019

In Chicago, where I come from, baseball loyalties are sharply divided.  You are either a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan—never both.  It’s mostly a geographic thing, North Side versus South Side.  When I was growing up in the 1950s, there was a similar schism among the city’s bowlers.  The question then was, are you Brunswick or AMF?

Affiliation had nothing to do with geography.  Your bowling loyalty depended on the house in which you’d learned the game, and the type of equipment they had.  It was like your religion or political party, something you were born into.  In my own case, I started bowling at Habetler Bowl.  So, naturally, I was a Brunswick man.

Everything was ordered.  Like all my friends, I bought my Black Beauty at Buddy Bomar’s store.  Don Carter won all the tournaments, and guys like Lillard and Nagy and Day ruled on “Championship Bowling.”  And if you were of the female persuasion, there was Marion Ladewig to follow.  That was our world.

1970—Still loyal to Brunswick!

Our one apostate was Steve the Greek.  For Steve, being cool was the most important thing in life.  His favorite bowler was Johnny King, the coolest dude this side of the “77 Sunset Strip” TV show.  So when Cool Johnny joined AMF, Steve dumped all his Brunswick gear, replacing it with anything that had the Magic Triangle logo.  But then, Steve always did things backwards—he was left-handed.  And who ever heard of a lefty bowler?

When you grew up in a Brunswick house, there were certain things you knew.  It was an established fact that Brunswick alleys hooked more, producing higher scores.  Furthermore, AMF approaches were always tacky—except when they were too slippery, and you fell down.  AMF may have invented the automatic pinsetter, but their machines looked dumb, with the pins hanging out in the open in those cheesy slots.  And they were too noisy.  As for the T-square ball returns, they were a disaster if you took a five-step approach.  There was also the matter of color.  AMF was all yellow and red and brown, like stale scrambled eggs.  The true color of bowling was Brunswick Blue.

If we needed any further proof of Brunswick superiority, there was “Championship Bowling.”  For years it was a showcase for high scores and Brunswick stars.  Then, around 1962, the program abruptly switched to AMF.  Fred Wolf was still doing the commentary, but now guys were winning matches with 590s.  What did that tell you?

Still, there was Dick Weber.  By this time he had become the World’s Greatest Bowler, and he was AMF.  How to explain that?  You couldn’t—except to say that Weber might have won even more tournaments if he’d had the right equipment.

Eventually, we started to question our parochial attitudes.  During my last two years of high school, I bowled on the Habetler teen traveling team in an eight-house league.  A majority of the places were AMF, and they weren’t bad.  I suppose my experience was similar to the knee-jerk bigot who gets involved with other racial groups, and discovers they are human after all.  When I rolled my first 700 series, it was in an AMF house.  That gave me something to think about.

College opened even wider perspectives, and induced a large dose of skepticism in traditional beliefs.  My classmates were protesting the Vietnam War, challenging all aspects of American society.  The times, they were a-changin’.  In that spirit, I finally went out and bought an AMF three-dotter.

Yet old superstition dies hard.  At the ABC Tournament, I would always bowl badly in the odd-number years, when AMF was in charge.  The pattern was obvious, and a few times I seriously considered sitting out.  Then I broke the string by doing even worse in a Brunswick year, and I had run out of excuses.

Today I can happily report that I have learned an important lesson in tolerance.  Unthinking prejudice is a terrible thing, and I have a completely open mind on the merits of bowling equipment.  So now I announce it to the world, loud and clear—I will bowl on any lanes and use any ball that gives me higher scores with less effort.

First published in BOWLERS JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL in January 2002.

For this story and 89 more, buy a copy of my book THE BOWLING CHRONICLES.  Available on Amazon.

National Bowling Museum Alleys—St. Louis (1984)

May 26, 2019

111 Stadium Plaza

Buzz Fazio (1960)

May 23, 2019


Bowling Hall of Fame, 1963

#31 Bowler of the 20th Century

All-American, 1951-52, 1952-53, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1957-58

Masters champion, 1955

Match Game Doubles champion, 1951, 1952, 1954

3 ABC championships (1951-TAE, 1958-T, 1958-TAE)

2 PBA titles

Flenners—Chicago (1911)

May 21, 2019

FRONT—Bill Miner, W.S. Flenner (sponsor), Ed Guston REAR—Bill Williams, Ed Hemingway, Andy Hall

ABC Team Champions, 1911

Camelot Bowl—Collinsville, IL

May 19, 2019

123--Camelot Bowl (801 Belt Line Rd)

801 Belt Line Rd. 



Joe Wilman for Manhattan (1939)

May 16, 2019

John Russell Stop-Action (1941)

May 14, 2019

Ebonite Bowling Balls (1962)

May 12, 2019

Tom Kouros—R.I.P.

May 9, 2019


Bowling Hall of Fame, 2009

Author of bowling’s best-selling book (Par Bowling–1976)