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Bowlers Journal At 100 By Mort Luby Jr.


THE DEPRESSION AND PET PROJECTS


As part of the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Bowlers Journal, Publisher


Emeritus Mort Luby Jr. chronicles the history of Luby Publishing, from the magazine’s inception in November 1913 through today. Part 4 of 12.


W


e probably fared better than most middle-class people during the De- pression because of the


Bowlers Journal Press Service, the company’s longtime ace-in-the-hole. My father’s news- paper chums around the country knew that he would be present at almost every major tournament, so they’d call and ask him for results. At first, it was a pro bono ar- rangement. Then he started charging for his service. As tournaments grew,


he convinced Western Union and Postal Telegraph to install an operator and teletypewriters. Then United Press and the Associated Press, the big news wholesalers, began to ask for coverage. Pretty soon, he was fi ling


thousands of words a day from the ABC Championships, the Petersen Classic and a half-dozen other events. At one point, he was fi ling stories to more than 100 newspapers plus the big national wire services.


My father would literally Mort Luby Jr.


move his magazine operation to a tiny, smelly pressroom in some auditorium, war memorial or arena for the entire length of the ABC Tournament. This meant several months or more cooped up in a hotel room in places like Detroit, Toledo, Buff alo and St. Paul. He’d bat out a report for the AP or UP and then turn to his typewriter


and do a profi le piece for Bowlers Journal.. This went on seven days a week for months on end.


When ABC began to hit the 4,000-team


mark in the late 1930s, it meant a big increase in his BJ Press Service income, and lessened fears that he might have to pull the plug on the ailing magazine. When the team entry nudged 5,000 at the 1938 tournament in Chicago, he built a yellow brick house on Leavitt Street in Beverly Hills, a neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Of course, after 60 or 70 straight days in the ABC pressroom, my father was exhausted. So he simply laid off the two- person staff in Chicago, closed down the magazine for the entire summer and went fi shing in Wisconsin. (I’ve always said my father was a smarter businessman than I.)


Pet Projects The fact that he controlled the distribution of most of the nation’s bowling news gave my father an opportunity to promote his


EVERYTHING BOWLING, ALL THE TIME


Free Lunch: (from left) Reporter Tom Bolger of the Toledo Blade and Mort Luby Sr. get the royal treatment from AMF Sales Manager Bob Kennedy and publicist Bill McDonald during the 1949 BWAA Convention. Years later, Kennedy would say that Luby was largely responsible for convincing AMF management to continue working on their visionary pinspotting machine when executives were ready to throw in the towel.


own pet projects. The creation of a national “Association of


Bowling Proprietors” was fi rst proposed in the April 1932 edition of the magazine. Luby kept hammering away at the concept and encouraged his many proprietor friends to get the ball rolling. He also proff ered the notion of a national


Bowling Hall of Fame in the January 1937 issue. He suggested that it be patterned after the Baseball Hall. When ABC fi nally decided to embrace his idea in 1941, it followed nearly all of the suggestions outlined in his editorial. He also started picking the BJ All-


American bowling teams in 1937. Thanks to his connections with the national wire services, he was able to get major space for his mythical quintets in daily newspapers across the country. It was around this time that Luby also formed the National Bowling Writers’


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