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Bowlers Journal Timeline TIMELINE


BY J.R. SCHMIDT { jrschmidt@bowlersjournal.com } 1960 Air-


conditioning takes hold.


As early as 1940, Bowlers Journal had urged pro- prietors to air-condition their establishments. The technology improved and became cheaper during the 1950s. The start of a new decade sees bowling becoming a year-’round sport, and also sees a nine-fold jump in league play in the South.


1961 1


Therm Gibson’s giant jackpot.


Bowling has its fi rst prime-time network TV


show, hosted by comedy legend Milton Berle, no less. The most memorable moment on “Jackpot Bowl- ing” comes when Therm Gibson strings six strikes to take home the $75,000 pot. In little more than four minutes, he earns more than Mickey Mantle makes playing a whole season in the Yankee outfi eld.


EVERYTHING BOWLING, ALL THE TIME


THE 1960s 1961


Willow Grove


Park Lanes redefi nes ‘big center.’


Bowling’s building boom peaks with the opening of the largest-ever U.S. center, 116-lane Willow Grove Park Lanes in sub- urban Philadelphia. The “Taj Mahal of Bowling” is feted in glossy magazines and becomes a minor tourist attraction, but will last barely 20 years.


The ABC


v. BPAA.


Two of bowling’s major “integers” get involved in a turf war. BPAA won’t allow bowlers from non-member centers to bowl in its tour- naments, and ABC refuses to sanction any tournament that enforces this BPAA el- igibility rule. After fi ve years of legal battles, the two sides learn the virtues of cooperation. But as is usu- ally the case in such family feuds, the big winners are the lawyers.


1961


1961 2


The National


Bowling League debuts... and dies.


A decades-long dream becomes real-


ity as a group of investors launch bowling’s fi rst coast-to-coast intercity league. The NBL has a promising start, but poor attendance and lack of a TV contract drown the venture in a sea of red ink after a single season. It’s the beginning of the end for big-time team bowling.


1962 3


PBA telecasts become a


Saturday institution.


ABC-TV begins weekly, 90-minute broadcasts


of the fi nal matches at 13 PBA Tour events. The show is a success, and “Pro Bowlers Tour” becomes Saturday afternoon must- see TV for three decades, not to mention the most effective promotion ever for getting people out onto the lanes. (Photo: Long-time “PBT” broadcasters Billy Welu and Chris Schenkel, with Don Carter.)


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June 2013


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