Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1860
NEW BOWLING SALOON.—Messrs. Brunswick & Co. open their extensive Bowling Saloon on the corner of Clark and Washington streets this evening
Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1894
Although distinctively a German game, bowling has during the last few years, attained wonderful popularity among Americans of all classes. Naturally the greatest number of alleys in this city are located in the districts largely populated by Germans. For many years the alleys in the North Side Turner Hall1 have been the scene of many hot contests. The men who are enthusiastic bowlers are thorough democrats so far as their game is concerned, and all trades and professions are included in the list. Politicians, bankers, lawyers, insurance men, and doctors meet with carpenters, bricklayers, and masons in friendly strife, in which it is not always the men with the greatest amount of muscle who are victorious. Many of the crack bowlers of the North Side are members of the Germania club, but, in fact, every club in that division of the city pays considerable attention to the wants of the patrons of the game.
There is plenty of excitement in bowling to encourage the beginner, and it is not long before the craze for the game gains a hold upon the player, and he is then willing to give up almost any other engagement for the sake of practice or for a contest for blood. For hours at a time the players become immersed in the mysteries of “strikes” and “spares” and night after night they return to the alley merely to go through the routine of rolling the big balls. The first game won by a novice is sure to make him a lfelong devotee of the sport, and so long as he has strength to hold a ball in his hands he may be counted on as ready to take part in a game at any time.
There are two bowling clubs for which regular nights are reserved at the North Side Turner Hall, the Eastern meeting Mondays and the Athletics every Saturday. In the Eastern club are enrolled Charles Saenger, Georhe Bowker, Gottlieb Chote, Fred Preu, Fred Heuthwohl, M.L. Mayer, William Maer, Ed Farrar, George Plotzbach, William Kallenbach, Charles Hett, H. Heyder, Fred Walsh, and Ed Reinhold. Among the prominent bowlers in the Atlantic club are Charles Enders, Fred Hass, Emil Goetz, Jesse Smith, Henry Hess, Charles Bartles, Ferdinand Class, Raymand Dreyer, Edward Fischer, Gustave Gailey, John Geiger, Max Greiner, Richard Griesser, Paul Rohde, William Schaeffer, and Charles Sehvoll. In addition to these two clubs there are a number of minor organizations that occupy the alleys during other nights of the week, but their membership is variable and seldom the same from one week to another.
Among the members of the Germania club the most prominent coterie of players is called the “All Ten’ club, the members of which are very regular in their practice. Another party, headed by L. Schesinger, occupies the alleys Tuesday nights, while Thursday evenings Emil Freise and his friends are usually in control. Every Monday afternoon a club of ladies, composed of wives and daughters of members, take possession of the house and emulate the work of their male relatives. As men are rigidly excluded from the alleys during these meetings it is impossible to state just what progress the ladies make, but it is rumored that some of them are able to fully hold their own with the champions of the organization.
There are many good bowlers among the members of the Marquette and Union clubs, but there has been little playing done this season on the alleys of either house, the social duties of the members preventing them from indulging to any great extent in this healthful exercise. In addition to the clubs there are more than a score of halls on the South Side that are provided with alleys and at most of them excellent work may be seen any evening. But the patrons of these halls have seldom formed any organizations, the bowlers taking part in the sport more with the purpose of developing personal strength rather than team work.
“There are many men who enjoy a game of ten-pins,” said an expert bowler the other day, “but who are at a great loss to make points when their first ball leaves them with a bad break. It is the head work necessitated by such bad breaks that the expert wins most of his games. A skillful bowler does not rely upon the ball to do all the work, but utilizes the pins, striking one so easily that it will slide over and topple others. These ‘cut shots’ require great delicacy in delivery and an adjustment of force that can only be acquired by years of practice. Since the decrease in the size of the pins to fifteen inches in circumference at the thickest part and the increase of distance between spot centers to twelve inches the chances for hard breaks have become much more numerous.”
In the diagrams given herewith all of the spares shown gave been actually made by players. The black lines show the direction of the ball, while the dotted lines show the course taken by a pin that has been “cut” and knocks down one or more pins. The figures indicate the pins left standing after the break. All of these shots are made with moderate force, too great strength in the delivery of the ball interfering with the success of the stroke.
No. I. is a two two-pin break, and requires a delicate cut of pin 5, which is touched lightly on the left side with a ball delivered from the right side, but with a slight twist to left. If the 5 pin is properly hit it will slide diagonally across the alley and topple the 10 pin.
In No. II. three pins, 5, 8, and 10, qre left standing after the break. A straight ball is bowled up the center, touching the 5 pin lightly on the left side and sending that pin against N. 109, as in shot No. 1. The 8 pin is knocked down by the ball, as the slightest deflection resulting from contact with pin 5 sends the sphere straight at pin 8.
No. III. represents a very hard four-pin break and one in which considerable luck is necessary. It os only made by sending a straight ball at the 6 pin, cutting it on the right side and sending it against 8, which in turn knocks 7 down. The ball glances from 6 and hits 10, completing the spare.
In No. IV. is shown a shot very similar to the previous one except that only three pins are left standing and the 6 pin is “cut” so as to send it diagonally across the alley to 7, the ball continuing on and knowcking down 10.
No. V. is apparently a very easy position, but is regarded by bowlers as a very exasperating break. Instead of using a straight ball, which would probably knock pin 2 to one side, the ball is started from the the right with a slight twist to the left, hitting pin 2 full and sending it flying against pin 8.
When the three pins, 5, 9, and 10, are left as in No. VI., an expert will make the stroke by a straight ball from the center, touching the 5 pin lightly on the left center side, knocking it against 9, which in turn collides withe pin 10. This shot, however, requires such delicacy of touch that one success to twenty failures would be considered good work.
Almost a year ago a novelty in bowling alleys was introduced in this city. This was nothing else than the substitution of slate for maple in the construction of the alley. One of the greatest difficulties in the way of accurate bowling has been the unevenness with which the wood flooring of the alley has been worn away. Attempts have been made to substitute compositions of one kind or another, usually containing a large amount of asphalt, but none of them has proved successful because of the impossibility of securing a surface sufficiently smooth. About a year ago a patent was applied for by Nicholas Stoll of this city for a slate bowling alley, and the first alley constructed was built at No. 176 Madison street. Though this alley has been in constant use for nearly twelve months there is not the slightest sign of wear on the surface, and it has proved so popular with bowlers that the other three alleys in the room have just been relaid with slate.
It requires fourteen slates, each five feet long by thirty-two inches in width, to make an alley of the standard size. These slates are fastened to wooden frames and laid on a bed of cement more than six inches in thickness. The slates are edged with plank, and of course the gutters are also made of wood, covered with rubber cushions.
One of the first objections made to the use of slate was that it was that it was thought that the slabs would crack when a ball was dropped on them, and that the alley would therefore be a costly one to operate. It was found, however, that there was but little danger from this source, as it required the full strength of a bowler throwing a nine-inch ball to fracture one of the slabs. The main wear comes on the first two or three slates, while those at the end of the alley should last for many years. The only wear on them being that of the balls rolling over the,, this is so slight as not to be worth notice.
When a heavy ball is dropped on an alley there is, of course, a good deal of wear on the flooring, but as a rule the heavy balls are rolled and not dropped, and the surface is therefore left intact. Arrangements are made when it is deemed necessary to prevent a bowler from throwing a heavy ball on the alley by placing a guard made of a half-inch iron rod across the alley about twelve feet from where the bowler should stop. This guard will stop any one from making a bad break in smashing a slate, and will keep the bowlers down to business.
Ordinary wooden alleys require renewal about once in five years, but the slate alleys, judging from the test of the last year, will easily last a lifetime. So far the experience of the bowlers who have used the new alley is that much more accurate work can be done than on any wood floored alley, except one that has just been laid. There is no chance of warping or of forming gutters by the constant rolling of the balls on a certain line. In the course of the experiments made to test the slates, it has been discovered that a blow from a heavy ball may fracture a piece from the underside of a slate and yet there will be no sign of injury at the point on which the ball fell. So far Chicago possesses the only slate alleys in existence, but now that the experiment has proved a success it is probable that they will come into general use throughout the country.
Inter Ocean, January 28, 1899
Captain A.C. Anson, the veteran ball player, will open a billiard hall about March 1. The rooms are located just west of Clark street on the north side of Madison and Anson will begin furnishing them next week. The captain has long contemplated engaging in the billiard business, but has always found great difficulty in securing a proper location. In connection with the billiard hall the old first baseman will build a number of bowling alleys in the basement. The billiard tables will be on the first floor, but as his business increases he will take one or two of the upper floors as well. Anson is known as one of the best amateur billiard players in the West, and devotes a great deal of his time to the game. He has won several prizes in billiard tournaments in this city and is a familiar figure to the class of people who frequent the down-town billiard halls. Anson thinks this will be a big help to him in his new venture and his numerous friends will watch with interest the old man’s success as a roomkeeper.
135-141 Madison Street
Sanborn Fire Map
Inter Ocean, July 2, 1899
Anson’s New Bowling Alleys.
Cap Anson’s new bowling alleys, to be run with his billiard rooms, which were opened at Nos. 135 to 141 Madison street about a month ago, will be ready for use of devotees of the nine and ten pins game next Tuesday.
There are in all eight alleys now undergoing finishing touches at the workmen’s hands, fitted with modern appliances, lit by electricity, and thoroughly ventilated. Several large electric fans form part of the equipment of the place, and bowlers can rely upon having a nice, cool spot.
Manage Fred Worden has arranged for a special attraction on the opening night, July 4, in the shape of a match between the Illinois champion bowling team, represented by Captain Frank Lyons, William Lee, W.W. Thompson, George P. Thompson, and Ed Canfield, and a picked team consisting of H.A. Pierce, L.F. Ullrich, Dr. W.B. Hanna, George R. Baker, and H.E. Shepard. All of the contestants are well known experts in the bowling world and a lively tournament may be looked for.
In addition to the match game there will be a two-men team tourney to start in the afternoon, for which many entries have already been received from crack local players. American Bowling congress rules will govern each event.
Chicago Tribune, January 9, 1901
Erie, Pa., the smallest town represented by a team in yesterday’s games in the national bowling tournament, carried away the big end of the honors of the day. Until late at night the Belleville, Ill., team, which really is considered a St. Louis organization, led in the five-men team contest, which was the event of the opening day, but at the midnight hour Mr. Baumeister of Erie rounded up his score of 192, and this sent Erie’s total for the three games up to 2,678, which was just eighteen better than the men who came from the Illinois suburb of St. Louis.
Eighteen teams took part in yesterday’s competion and twenty-four teams remain to play in the same event today, so that Erie is far from having won the coveted prize.
Theb opening day of the first national bowling tournament ever held was a roaring success in every way except in the dimensions of the broom in which it was held. These were entirely inadequate for the occasion. The bIllinois Bowling association, under whose auspices the tournament is given, has provided a nice, clean, well lighted room, good seats, and six beautiful new alleys in the Welsbach Building, at Wabash avenue and Randolph street, but there was no space enough to accommodate the bowlers, their friends, and the crowds that gathered to watch them.
One thing was settled as soon as the first games in the afternoon got under way. That was that there was interest in bowling. The noise made by the crowd of spectators would put a bleacher delegation at a baseball game toi shame. There was almost a continual roar of applause from the beginning of the play at 3:30 p.m. until the close of the day’s sport at midnight.
Eight Chicago Teams Fail.
Chicago teams did far better than New York’s. but the showing made by the locals was, on the whole, disappointing. Eight of the eighteen teams rolling yesterday were Chicago teams, yet the best Chicago was able to do was to place a team in fifth place. The Chicago teams which rolled were the Stars, Webers, Americas, Lakesides, West Chicagos, Ansons, Oaklands, and Kleinbauers. Of these the Ansons made the best showing.
All in all, the work of the first day failed to develop anything sensational, unless it was the victory of the Erie team. The experts, naturally, were bothered more or less by the new alleys, and no phenomenal averages were recorded. The best individual average of the day was made by Captain Belmar of the Rosedale team, New York, although this team’s record was far down in the list. It is predicted that all of the records of yesterday will fall today.
Opening Teams at a Disadvantage.
The teams which played first were at a considerable disadvantage, as both pins and alleys were brand-new, and it is always more difficult to bowl well under such conditions. As the games advanced this handicap wore off in a measure, but it is fair to assume that the six clubs which opened the tournament at 3:30 p.m. were handicapped in a degree as against their luckier opponents who drew a later period for their contests.
The opening teams were the All Stars of Louisville, the Cyclones of New York, the Webers of Chicago, the Stars of Detroit, the Marions of Indianapolis, and the Stars of Chicago. Before they got down to work there was a formal “opening” of the tournament. In this ceremony Dr. H. Timm of New York, the president of the American Bowling congress, rolled a ball down alley No. 1, while G. Langhenry of Chicago, the President of the Illinois Bowling association; W.V. Thompson, Samuel Karpf, and Frank Brill and Tom Curtis were performing a similar feat on the remaining five alleys. Brill, acting as the substitute for Treasurer G.P. Strack of the national organization. None of these men succeeded in scoring a “strike.” Secretary Karpf coming nearest with nine pins. President Timm upset but one pin.
This formality over with, the six competing teams got down to work at once. The Louisville and New York (Cyclones) men rolled on alleys 1 and 2, while the Webers and Detroits alternated on alleys 3 and 4, leaving the Stars of Chicago and the Indianapolis team to battle on alleys 5 and 6.
The Inter Ocean, January 12, 1901
Chicago Tribune, January 13, 1901
Sixty of the two hundred or more bowlers who participated in the first national bowling tournament in this city last week took part in all three of the national championships. The Tribune presents the complete records of these sixty men and most important, which will be highly gratifying to Chicago rollers, is the fact that Frank Brill, the Chicagoan who won the individual championship, is the leader of in the grand average for the national tournament. Despite his comparatively poor showing in the first contest—the five-men team championship—in which totaled less than 500 pins in three games, Brill eventually surpassed all others in the total number of pins scored during the tournament.
Following Brill came two New-Yorkers—Koster and Voohies/ Koster figured in none of the first prizes, but rolled steadily well. Voorhies is one of the two-men champion teams. W.J. Kenna of Chicago is fourth in the grand averages. He is a member of the West Chicago team. Menninger, the noted Detroit player, came in fifth, and then follow two more Chicago players.
For some reason none of the Standard team of Chicago, which won the five-men team championship, took part in the individual championships. Therefore, they do not figure in the table of grand averages. Many other players who made good records on two of the three championship events failed to take part in the third event, and are not included, therefore, in the grand averages.
The figures show some queer things. L.O. Voorhees totaled 560 in the five-men team contest, 499 in the two-men team contest, and 550 in the individual contest, bringing his total forb the tournament to just 1,600 even. Oscar Hammer of Brooklyn made almost the same score in each of the three championship events. Johansmeyer of New York bowled less than 400 in the five-men team championship, and then went a fast clip in the next two series.
Below is a complete record of all the men who took part in all the championships.
Chicago Tribune, January 12, 1901
END OF FIVE-WOMEN TEAM CONTEST.
Crescents Take Third Place with a Total of 1,698.
The Crescent Bowling club won third place in the five-women team contest of the women’s national bowling tournament by rolling up a total of 1,698 yesterday afternoon. This concluded the five-women team competition and left the Double Century bowlers in the lead with their total of 1,876, and the Moderns in second place with 1,728 pins to their credit. The bowling of the Crescents was remarkably even, their totals of their three games being 559, 592, and 547. Mrs. A. Fuellgraff and Miss Agnes Fueligraff made the highest individual scores, 128 each, and both in the second string. Miss Fuellgraff’s average for three games was the better, however.
The scores follow:
The contest for teams composed of three women was started yesterday and furnished one of the most exciting and closely rolled matches of the tournament—that between the “Center” team,” composed of Mesdames Schramm, Mueller, and Cook, and the “Three Turkeys,” which was the name adopted by Mesdames Stebens, and Wachsmuth and Miss Jeschke. The latter trio was looked upon as an almost sure winner, and it was something in the nature of a surprise, therefore, when the “Center” team won out in the last frames by a margin of only twelve pins. The “Centers” were ahead at the end of the first game, but that lead was wiped out by the “Turkeys” in the second game and they a margin of fourteen at its conclusion. The final game was exciting throughout, and by steady bowling the Centers, each of them beating out her individual opponent by a few pins, totaled 422 for the game to the “Turkeys'” 396.
The scores follow:
The Welsbach Building
Sanborn Fire Map
Chicago Tribune, January 9, 1901
LOCAL managers of bowling alleys have troubles getting good pin boys who will work steadily. Every race has been tried from negroes to Syrians, and the negroes now are the majoruty. They are not satisfactory, however, and white boys are given the preference at any time by the keepers.
It is so difficult to secure enough white boys to work setting pins that the alley managers who have to rely on negro help evolved a scheme whereby the boys are paid 2 cents a game for every man who rolls on their alley and in addition get 20 per cent of the receipts of their respective alleys. This had the desired effect in the majority of cases, for the boys now have to work hard to earn their money, and the faster they work the more money they make. Since this system of paying has been introduced some of the pin boys have been known to make $18 in a week, but the average hard working, industrious boy will earn about $12.
Leave Jobs Without Notice.
Any white boy can get a job at any time at most of the downtown alleys. Most of the Caucasians who work usually are members of the “Down and outs,” or they are habitual tramps who will work long enough to earn $5 or $10 and then leave without an hour’s notice for parts unknown. There are some, however, who stick to the work and like it.
This is where the men over 40, if they are spry, can get positions as easily as the younger men. In one of the downtown alleys a man 52 years old has been a pin boy in the place for over five years. Formerly he was a cashier in a bank and lost his position fighting booze. Je fell heir recently to $7,000 which his mother left him, but he is not allowed to use any of the money on account of his tendency to fall off the wagon whenever he has any large amount to spend. His brother invested the mnoney for him and allows him $5 a week for spending money. If he was given any more he probably would kill himself by excessive drinking in a few months. As it is he works every day from 10 in the morning until 11 and 12 at night, and the hard work keeps his mind off drink.
Old Men Do Boys’ Work.
Another white boy working in the same alleys was a stenographer, earning $25 a week, but too much “red eye” brought him down to his present position. In another well known alley in the loop district an old man who probably is on the dark side of 50, is working as a pin boy and is called the “Banker” by the habitués of the place. If the cashier of the resort runs out of change the old man is called upon, and he always can change any amount from his rolls of bills, which he carries in an old wallet. To learn just how much money the old fellow carried around with him the clerk one night asked him to change a $50 bill.
To the surprise of every one in the place the old man drew out his wallet and carefully counted the correct amount from his roll and he still had a few bills left. Yet he works for $8 a week and never has missed a whole day since he started to work in the place. The only time he gave the alley keeper any trouble was when he was asked to set up pins for two women who wanted to bowl. It was apparent he was a woman hater, for with a sneer he absolutely refused to work, and before the boss could pacify him he was out in the street. He came back the next morning to work, and nothing was said of the incident of the previous morning.
Pin Boys in 1910.
Dust Causes Lung Trouble.
In an alley on Randolph street, a young Pole saved enough money out of his wages to buiold a small cottage on the west side. He worked hard, getting down some mornings before 8 o’clock and never would leave his alley until 1 o’clock in the morning, with the exception of a fifteen minute period twice each day for dinner and supper. He kept up these strenuous hours for five years, when he had to quit owing to an aggravated case of lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust from the excelsior cushion in his pit. He was operated on and large clumps of dust was taken from his lungs. He rallied for a few weeks, but finally succumbed to the disease. This case was an exception, but there always is an outcry from every poin boy about the dust in the pits, and now all the alleys have men who watch the cushions for tears or breaks and the defects are remedied at once.
The pin boy’s work is much easier nowadays through the use of automatic pin spotters used in all of the well known alleys. Even this fact did not have the effect of keeping the white boys at work in one place and the manager, after trying Italians, negroes, Irish, Syrians, and Bohemians, thought he would get Japanese to do the work. He wrote to a friend in San Francisco to make arrangements for the shipment of two dozen Japs and was surprised to hear that the Orientals would not work for him unless he would provide them with rooms and board in addition to their salaries. Negroes now are spotting in his place.
Leave City in the Spring.
The spring is when the keepers are kept awake nights thinking of ways to secure help, for at this time of the year most of the boys get spring fever and quit work. About the 1st of June most of them get positions in bowling alleys at summer resorts and stay all season. Others, and there many, go to work in Michigan, picking strawberries, so the supply of pin boys is decreased to a considerable extent during the summer. Around the 1st of September those who have not succeeded in getting into other lines of work come back to their old stands and are received with open arms.
Some time ago the pin boys organized a union and every boy in the downtown alleys became a member. A charter was secured and the boys prepared to strike for higher wages. A Saturday afternoon at 1 o’clock, which is considered the busiest time of the day in the alleys, the boys in every alley struck and walked out, leaving the bowlers with the balls in their hands. In fifteen minutes every one was back in his usual place in the pits and the union soon soon was abolished.
Chicago Tribune, October 14, 1902
Pin boys in the bowling alleys of the city have decided to unionize. They believe twelve hours is too long a working day, and that 10 cents an hour is too small a pay when no allowance is made for liniment when shins are barked.
The boys met yesterday morning at 1 o’clock, and 150 of them were present. They decided they were much abused, underpaid, underestimated, but overworked. When the meeting broke up just as the sun rose they had their plans perfected. There are to be as “railroads” in it, no “cherries,” nothing but strikes.
The meeting was held in the Steamfitters’ hall, 181 Clark street. The boys came from Anson’s, Bensinger’s, and from Mussey’s alleys. They expected some prominent labor leaders of the city, but the hour was too unusual for them.
The boys range from 15 to 18 years of age, but some say under 14 years are hired for from $3 to $5 a week. They say they go to work at 11 a.m. and do not leave the alleys until midnight. They want the time cut to ten hours, with a minimum wage scale of 10 cents an hour. They also object to betting. They want to eat their lunch outside of the alleys. They do not consider it fair that they are ignored by the white aproned waiters rushing among the bowlers.
They told organizer J.P. Fitzpatrick of the Chicago Federation of Labor that in many of the alleys they are not given ample protection from players who practice curves. They said that oftentimes they have to watch two alleys, “an’ it’s no fun, either,” commented the spokesman, “for we ain’t no gawlf caddies, and ain’t been taught to go junpin’ around.”
“The union will prove a success,” said Organizer Fitzpatrick yesterday. “The worst features are the long hours and the small pay. I will get them a charter from the American Federation of Labor.”
Factory inspector E.T. Davies will make another tour of the bowling allies this fall and will prosecute all proprietors who employ boys 14 years old.
Chicago Tribune, December 23, 1902
Six policemen, a sergeant, and a patrol wagon were deemed necessary early this morning to escort the nonunion “pinboys” of Capt. A.C. Anson’s bowling alleys to the car line at State street. During the trip along Madison street the nonunion boys and their protectors were surrounded by a howling crowd of strikers, sympathizers, and curious spectators. Several missiles were hurled as the sixteen negroes left the alleys at 141 Madison street, but a charge by the police deterred the assailants. During the evening the pickets of the striking boys gathered about the entrances of the alleys and urged patrons to frequent other bowling resorts in which “union boys” were employed.
Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1921
The stars of the bowling world will compete today in the Peterson (sic) classic sweepstakes at the Petersen alleys for prizes totaling $1,600. The winner of the tournament will be awarded a purse of $1,000, while the bowler who finishes second will be presented with $500. A prize of $100 will be given to the contestant who has the highest individual score.
Chicago Tribune, October 3, 1921
Peterson’s (sic) Classic sweepstakes, the biggest bowling event held in Chicago in years, was captured yesterday by Harry Steers with a grand total of 1,629.
It was an eight-game tournament rolled on sixteen alleys at Petersen’s drives. Sixty-four individuals competed for the two prizes of $1,000 and $500. Matty Williams was second with a total of 1,594.
Larry Dunn from the Petersen alleys won the $100 for the high individual score of 257. When they went into their last game either of the top five had a chance of winning, but Steers clinched it with a count of 245.
Dr. Ehlke from Milwaukee was the top man among the out of town entries with 1,567.
Archer-35th Recreation Center
Chicago Land Use Survey
Chicago Tribune, February 21, 1961
WHENEVER ATHLETES are jousting for $331,968 in prize money, it’s worth a story. So Sunday evening we dragged our 251 pounds up the 22 steps leading to Archer-35th recreation, bowling’s second floor palace, to inquire about progress in the Classic tournament originated in 1921 by the late Louis P. Petersen.
Harry Steers earned $1,115 for winning that first Petersen Classic. When firing ceases in the 1961 Petersen Classic, on June 25, the winner’s championship diamond medal will be worth almost twice Steers’ first paycheck. And his cash dividend will be a minimum of $27,500 to a possible $46,000 and some fractions.
A record 12,768, 70 per cent of ’em from outside Chicago, are in this competition for bowling’s biggest pot o’gold. Sunday night’s lure was the appearance of Bill Flynn of Maple Heights, O., the only bowler ever to get a pair of consecutive 300 games in sanctioned competition. But we were intercepted by Mark Collor, the son-in-law carrying on for Petersen, who wanted to talk about the future of the event.
- Back around 1953 when Pete first offered $10,000 first prize, he predicted that by 1963 the bowlers would be shooting for $50,000 top money. That’s a pretty lofty goal for us, but do you know that our entries for 1962 are running 35 per cent higher than for this record-breaking year?
Big money, isn’t it? And I remember so many times that Pete would recall the bowlers wanted him to put the $1,115 in escrow for that first Classic; now they just bowl and take it for granted we’ve got the $331,968 in the bank.
Collor, talking about the Petersen Classic:
- Name bowlers used to be the rage in this tournament. We’d have all of the best plus a few of who wanted the glory of bowling alongside the best. But now, the average good bowler has come to learn that with the championship settled on eight games rolled against 16 lanes, he has just as good a chance to be lucky and win.
The current leader is Frank Sospirato of Warrensville, O., with 1,657 rolled on Jan. 27. That score would have been good for third last year; it’s far below the all-time high of 1,927 set by Dom DeVito in 1927.
But 11 Petersen Classics have been won with lesser scores. Bob Crawford won with 1,659 in 1958, and let me tell you about that one…
About 5 per cent of our entries are women bowlers. We have special cash prizes for the top women’s scores, but in the over-all competition their totals must stand against those of the men—we once had a woman roll a 57 game while competing on the same squad wit Ed Lubanski.
Well, in 1958 we had a little California girl—4 feet 10 inches tall and 90 pounds—named Carmella Bandos. She rolled every ball down the middle; she came in with about a 165 average.
But in that tournament she rolled 1,641, which was good enough to tie Ned Day for fifth place. Her total winnings were about $6,800. Yet with one more strike she’s have taken the whole works, and with all sorts of fringe purses would have gotten $32,000.
It’s quite a tournament, so just go in there and watch…but I don’t think you’ll see that Flynn fellow roll a 300 game. We’ve had only seven 300 games in 51 Classics (Petersen formerly presented two tournaments a year) and the last last was by Duke McGrew in 1953. But, like the fishing guide always says, you should have been here Saturday. A fellow named Clare Minneker, from Toledo, bagged a 299
The (Hackensack, N.J.) Record, October 24 , 1993
Another bowling era had ended with the closing of the Archer-35th Recreation in Chicago, the famed host for the Petersen Classic.
The center, an antiquated second-story layout housing 22 lanes and a bar, opened for bowling in 1911, seven years after it first was used as a dance hall.
In 1921, Louis P. Petersen, one of the pioneering promotional minds of the sport, same up with his eight-game scratch tournament. It featured big money first prizes, a long list of other prizes, and the most difficult scoring conditions ever devised. Over the years, the biggest names in the sport took a shot at the big money, and the abuse. The Petersen was in action through July of this year and plans were underway to continue next year. But then the heavy rains came in late summer and caused severe damage inside the building.
Mark Collor, the 79-year-old son-in-law of Petersen, who ran the center and conducted the tournament since the death of Petersen in 1958, estimated repair costs could top $250,000.
He has tried to sell the building and the tournament, but hasn’t been successful. Collor figures time is catching up to the 89-year-old building. He also doesn’t want to leave loose ends for his family to handle.
Dick Weber is interested in taking over the tournament and bringing it to his home area is St. Louis. Dick’s son, Pete, is a top touring pro, but his other two sons, John and Rich, are successful proprietors and tournament promoters, so it could work out.
The Petersen tournament drew as many as 16,000 entries, paying first place prizes of $45,000 and total prize funds of $500,000 and up each year.
It was best known for the horror stories about the lane conditions, the needling, and the strange happenings. On a pair of lanes, one would dressed so that the ball would hook quickly and across most of the lane, and the other would have gobs of oil, so much so that it was a challenge to get the ball up to the headpin.
On a snowy day it was almost expected that if a bowler was going well, a window might somehow open so that a blast of cold and more than a bit of the white stuff would disrupt his concentration.
Every now and then a bird would fly across the lanes, and you expected the weight of pins would vary so much that some reluctantly dropped down while others flew all over, creating many strange spare leaves.
Dick Weber noted that he had never cashed in 16 tries when he was a member of the fabled Budweiser team. Weber remembers the best performance he ever saw.
“Don Carter bowled 1,699 (eight games) one year by standing on the back edge of the approach and rolling the ball from there. There was so much oil on the lanes, that was the only way he could get the ball to turn over.”
I can back up that story. I rolled on that same squad, as did Wayne’s Lindy Faragalli.
There was a theory behind the difficult conditions and all the little tricks and antics to throw the bowlers off. It was figured that low scores would draw more entries because all bowlers would feel they could bowl better than the previous winners. And it worked. Once the bowlers came up against the aggravating conditions they realized how difficult it was to come even close to to a 200 game. But that didn’t hurt the entries. Bowlers will take an awful lot of aggravation for a shot at $45,000.
Bowlers will miss the steel steps going up to the old center, and the steel doors that closed when the lanes were being conditioned to over-challenge your body and brain.
Pictures of past champions that adorned the walls of the center, plus memorabilia almost a century old will be claimed by some of the bowlers and much will wind up in the National Hall of Fame and Museum.
What can’t be seen are the memories, fond or otherwise, of more than 100,000 bowlers still alive who competed in the Petersen.
Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1993
1 North Side Turner Hall, North Clark street, north of Chicago-avenue.—Chicago Tribune, December 9, 1887