July 30, 2017

Duckpin Bowling was a bit of a mystery to me...

... as I photographed these windows and signs yesterday at the Fountain Square Hotel Building in Indianapolis:

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Duckpin bowling originated in Baltimore in 1900:
Ten-pin bowling used to strictly be a winter sport and most alleys closed during the summer except for a few that remained open to play odd bowling games using the smaller balls. Summer bowlers suggested that it might be interesting to trim the standard pins down to match the size of the small ball. Because it was much harder to get strikes and spares, the rules were changed to allow three bowls on each turn but only counted as a score of ten if all ten pins were knocked down with the third ball. Duckpins became so popular that during the 1920’s duckpin bowling spread along the east coast, from New England to Georgia.

Today duckpin houses are still found only in the eastern states with the exception of our two locations here in Fountain Square, the only authentic Duckpin Bowling in the Midwest!
Babe Ruth liked to duckpin bowl.

16 comments:

exiledonmainstreet said...

I'll bet the Babe was good at it too, since he was a great pitcher for the Red Sox before he became a great hitter for the Yankees.

Jim Grey said...

Oooo, the Imbibe bar makes the best sazeracs in town. Recommended.

Fabi said...

Fond memories of duckpin bowling when I visited relatives up north as a youngster. The lanes were in the basement of a country club -- which seemed unusual for some reason. My grandfather said we could get anything we wanted to eat or drink and he left myself and several other of my young relatives down there while the adults partied upstairs. I was sure at the time that life couldn't possibly get any better!

Rob said...

And then there's candlepin bowling.

Michael The Magnificent said...

Today duckpin houses are still found only in the eastern states with the exception of our two locations here in Fountain Square, the only authentic Duckpin Bowling in the Midwest!

Not sure about that. Google "duckpin bowling milwaukee" and you get two locations. Up until recently, there was a place in Theinsville that advertised duckpin bowling.

Bay Area Guy said...

My Dad who grew up in DC in 40s and 50s, used to rave about Duckpin bowling. Out west, I was big into regular bowling as a kid, but never did the Duckpin thing.

Unknown said...

The "explanation" of Duckpin Bowling raises more questions than it answers.

Like a) Why close the lanes b) Why if the lane is open were they using "the smaller balls". It feels like a few paragraphs got dropped somewhere.

Roy Lofquist said...

@Unknown: It was damned hot in the summer. BAC - Before Air Conditioning.

Unknown said...

Sure it was hot -- and would be just as hot in a Duckpin alley as a regular one.

Wilbur said...

After he retired as a player and a couple of unsuccessful coaching (not managing) gigs, the Babe had a lot of time on his hands and a bundle of restless energy to expend. He spent many winter days bowling, often alone. When weather permitted he loved to play golf, and unsurprisingly was an excellent amateur player.

He waited for that one phone call - an offer to manage a major league team - which never came.

Xmas said...

I grew up in eastern MA. Candlepin bowling is normal bowling for me. This big ball crap is too easy.

mezzrow said...

during the 1920’s duckpin bowling spread along the east coast, from New England to Georgia.

Not just as far south as Georgia...

As a child in the 50's/early 60's, I remember that there was a duckpin parlor over in the San Marco neighborhood in Jacksonville. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere near it. Long gone by now.

richlb said...

I'm a Duckpin aficionado and live in Baltimore. Even here there are far fewer lanes than there were just 10 years ago. I'm willing to bet it's because of a decrease in interest overall in bowling coupled with availability of Duckpin lane supplies.

Roy Lofquist said...

@Unknown,

It takes less energy, hence heat generated, to roll a 5 pound ball as opposed to a 16 pound ball.

Bricap said...

This link suggests that the version in Indiana is a bit different. Never tried duckpin bowling, whatever version. Sounds like fun. We did try candlepin bowling when we were in Maine a few years ago, and it was both fun and humbling.

Gospace said...

On one of our first few dates, asked my now wife if she liked to bowl. She said "Yes." Took her to the bowling alley, got the shoes on, went to the lane and she asked "Where are the bowling balls?

She's from Baltimore and had only ever duckpin bowled. Which I still haven't done.