News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Kegler's Korner

March 19, 2006

Kegler's Korner: Important to mundane entries fill ABC Hall of Fame

The next time you set off that most jarring of noises in bowling — the foul-light buzzer — you can thank John Coker.

Who is John Coker, you might ask?

Coker was an electronics whiz who invented the electronic foul detector in 1937. He also invented the Tel-E-Score overhead score projector.

Back in the day, human foul judges were employed for each and every league session. The main reason for the invention was not to put bowling foul line judges on the unemployment line, but because bowlers were sliding past the foul line and ruining the lane finish.

His overhead projector was developed from a suggestion by a bowling proprietor, then Coker used the expertise of Cal Tech scientists who helped him with the design.

Coker is just one of many “interesting” entries in the American Bowling Congress (now USBC I suppose) Meritorious Hall of Fame. I say “interesting” because you also have many of the important, yet mundane, entries that were league officers and all-around good guys for a gazillion years.

But there are several Hall of Famers who fall in the “very” interesting category.

Walt Ditzen originated the Fan Fare cartoon, which was seen at its height of popularity in more than 200 newspapers in the United States and foreign countries. The three-panel strip covered all sports, but two of its best-known characters were Gutter Gus and Gutter Gussie. Those characters depicted bowling in a humorous and irreverent way.

He also created a series of posters in the late 1950s to fight the dreaded “slow bowling” and can still be seen in some bowling venues. I could help with an update of this poster with the many “slow” bowlers I have encountered.

Eddie Elias is a pioneer of professional bowling not unlike George Halas was to professional football.

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