Interesting Tidbits

Mass Appeal of Duckpin Bowling

During the decade of the 1980s, there were approximately 30,000 registered duckpin bowlers in the USA. But in the 1940s, there were over 325,000 organized (league) bowlers in the duckpin sport in the United States. According to Sports Illustrated, in the early 1950s, Duckpin Bowling nearly reached nationwide popularity, as the first automatic pinsetter was patented for duckpin bowling. But an unfortunate decision by the inventor to keep the invention local to the New England states allowed a subsequent tenpin pinspotter, developed by AMF, to be implemented in bowling establishments across the country, instead of the mechanism for duckpins. But even into the 1980s, Duckpin Bowling was wildly popular outside the U.S. At that time, there were 175,000 duckpin bowlers in Argentina spread across 100 bowling centers. Even more amazing is that there were over 400,000 duckpinners in the Philippines, spanning 300 bowling alleys.

Duckpins and the White House

In 2014, an historic event occurred between 2 countries, as the United States met Argentina in a week-long challenge match at White Oak Bowling Lanes in Silver Spring, Maryland. This was the first time in history that the 2 countries competed against each other on American soil. Three years later in the summer of 2017, the 2 countries met again in a return encounter, which produced an incredibly exciting, climactic championship match. After the event, a courtesy DVD and set of program books from the event were mailed to the White House. A couple of months later, the President sent back a most gracious note of appreciation and "Thank You" card.

Duckpins Goes to School

Back in 1997, a circuit of 17 Colorado schools acquired a set of duckpin equipment (balls and pins) from a pair of bowling enthusiasts in this area for their grades 2-5 students to learn about different cultures. The equipment was delegated to each school on a 2-week rotation basis.

World Cup of Duckpins

In 1983, there was a World Cup of Duckpins, featuring 4 countries in the competition: United States, Argentina, Canada, and the Philippines. The event was held in Canada and was comprised of 5 all-stars from each country.

A Hundred Years Ago

Duckpin Bowling was huge in the Washington metropolitan area in the early 1900s, reaching the first of many popularity peaks around 1917. News about duckpin bowling was often featured as the centerpiece on the front page of the sports' section of daily newspapers, including promotions of inter-city matches between the elite players and teams from D.C. and neighboring areas.

Skittles Anyone?

Skittles, an English version of small ball bowling, is one of the original bowling games. An earlier form of Skittles was discovered from the remains of an ancient tomb in Egypt around 3000 b.c. Later in the 15th century, King Henry VIII declared that bowling, including the earlier version of Skittles, at that time called "Kayles", was reserved only for the elite, and not the 'common-er'. In the original "Rip Van Winkle" story from 1819, "Ninepins" (aka, Skittles) was referenced. Today, Skittles is the 2nd most played indoor recreational activity in the United Kingdom, residing primarily in pubs -- 2nd only to the game of "Darts".

"Wolfie", "Shorty", and the V.A. Hospitals

Late Hall of Fame duckpin bowler, James "Wolfie" Wolfensberger, as well as retired duckpin legend, Vincent "Shorty" Divver visited Veterans Administration hospitals up and down the east coast to put on duckpin bowling exhibitions, interacting with patients at the facilities and sometimes taking part in friendly spontaneous competitions with the patients, as part of their physical and spirital rehabilitation. A recent interview with "Shorty" details these wonderful events.

Duckpins in Country Clubs

There is a circuit of Country Clubs in the Washington, DC area (including Congressional, Chevy Chase, Kenwood, and Columbia "clubs") that have dedicated duckpin bowling alleys on the premises, servicing inter-club challenge matches, as well as leagues and walk-in business for members.