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Bowlers Journal At 100 RIDING THE CREST OF BOWLING’S BOOM


sagged, something new always seemed to come along to prop things up again. In the mid-’60s, the fresh impetus came from overseas. Suddenly,


international tenpin bowling was hot. Olympic medalist Bruno Soderstrom had introduced tenpin bowling to his native Sweden around 1913 and encouraged the development of centers in the neighboring Scandinavian


countries. But tenpins didn’t penetrate the rest of Europe until the early ’60s, when an incredible boom spread over Great Britain and then spread across the continent.


Europe’s sudden fervor for bowling, however, paled in comparison to the sport’s volcanic rise in Japan. From practically zip, the Japanese bowling industry soared to a peak of 3,770 centers with 123,000 lanes. After a long malaise in the domestic market, Brunswick and AMF factories began humming again. And advertising surged in the pages of Bowlers Journal. The explosion of the overseas market also gave us more to write about.


After ignoring the international


market for years, the American Bowling Congress and Women’s International Bowling Congress fi nally joined the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs


In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, bowling was the hottest industry in the United States, with new centers popping up everywhere. Total bowling lanes reached 160,000 in 1962.


and sent a U.S. team to the 1963 World Championships in Mexico. I covered the event for the Associated Press, and thus launched a long string of international adventures.


During a break in the action at Cuernavaca, I encountered a tall


Englishman who was having problems exchanging his British pounds for Mexican pesos in the local banks. His name was Keith Hale, and he was in Mexico on assignment for a new British


bowling magazine. I asked one of my Mexican friends to help Keith convert his pounds to pesos. We became fast friends, and he has been writing for our magazine for more than half a century. Bill McDonald, who was still AMF’s spinmeister, called me a couple of years later and made a proposition: If I could guarantee coverage on the Associated Press wire, he would pay all of my expenses to cover a new international tournament in Ireland.


I called AP Sports Editor Ted Smits in New York and convinced him that this new International Masters Championship (it’s now dubbed the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup) was an event of epic importance.


My journey to Ireland was, in many ways, a turning point for our magazine and myself. After talking to bowlers, journalists and promoters from two dozen countries, it dawned on me that international bowling was not just a fad. Tenpin bowling had universal appeal among people of just about every heritage and culture. A lot of smart businessmen in countries around the world had obviously recognized the commercial opportunities of this imported sport and business from America.


It became clear to me that bowling would eventually become a huge global industry, and I wanted Bowlers Journal to become an integral part of it. Until my retirement a few years ago, I covered nearly every edition of the World Cup. I’ve visited more than 80 countries while chasing down stories for our magazine and the AP. International events became a key source of circulation, as we’d often set up a subscription sales booth at major events.


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May 2013


EVERYTHING BOWLING, ALL THE TIME


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