By Dennis Clark
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.
Elias rounded up 33 top bowlers for a meeting in 1958 at the ABC Tournament in Syracuse, N.Y., had them pony up $50 each and the Professional Bowlers Association was created. The tour began the next year with a total prize fund of less than $50,000. He also was a driving force in the increased popularity of bowling by convincing ABC-TV to telecast the winter tour.
Robert Kennedy — no relation to the famous Kennedy family of Massachusetts — of Detroit was a visionary to the development of modern-day bowling.
As a vice president of Brunswick Corp. in the 1930s, his recommendations led to improvements such as streamlining of lanes and colorful semi-circle leatherette seats (which were in use for many years at several local bowling centers) and he introduced the forerunner to the masking unit which at that time would hide the pinboy from view.
J. Elmer Reed was to bowling what Jackie Robinson was to baseball.
Reed had the distinction of being the first black member of the ABC Hall of Fame — fitting because in the 1940s he was instrumental in the cause against ABC’s Caucasian-only membership rule, which was rescinded at the 1950 ABC Convention.
Upon learning blacks were virtually excluded from bowling because of race, he traveled to many cities at his own expense in the 1930s to organize black bowling leagues, usually in old, rundown centers. In 1941, he and two partners built the first black bowling establishment in the United States — United Recreation in Cleveland.
Two local bowlers honored — At Indianapolis, Terre Haute South seniors Kara Bunting and Brittany Gambill were named first-team girls All-State selections in Indiana High School Bowling.
Bunting and Gambill, along with all other first-team All-State honorees for boys and girls, will be announced live on ESPN at the PBA World Championships on March 26 at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.
PBA’s WRW Jr. hopes sixth time a charm — It seems that every time I’ve turned around in recent months, the PBA is informing me of a media tele-conference soon after a PBA event for Walter Ray Williams Jr. in anticipation of his tying Earl Anthony’s all-time Tour record of 41 career titles.
And five straight times, that tele-conference has been canceled.
Williams will get a sixth chance to tie Anthony’s mark, as he defeated Paul Fleming four games to three Friday to reach the finals of today’s PBA Ace Hardware Championship at Taylor, Mich.
Williams won his 40th career title in November 2004. His latest attempt came two weeks ago in the PBA Pepsi Championship, where he fell in the title match to Chris Collins, 245-201.
The PBA Hall of Famer won all three of his matches Friday in the maximum seven games. He also endured a 300 game by Fleming in Game Five of their match, giving Fleming a 3-2 lead. But Williams bounced back to take the final two games to advance into today’s finals.
Williams will face 22-time titlist Norm Duke, who will be looking to end a drought of his own. Duke has made a Tour-high seven TV appearances this season, but has yet to win a title. Duke could take over the top-spot in the 2005-06 PBA World Point Rankings with a win today.
The live ESPN televised finals will take place at 12:30 p.m. EST
Women (plural) make PBA history — History was made Wednesday as two women qualified for a PBA Tour standard event for the first time.
Liz Johnson and Cathy Dorin-Lizzi finished third and fourth respectively in Wednesday’s PBA Tour qualifying round and advanced to the round of 64 in the PBA Ace Hardware Championship at Taylor, Mich.
Last season, Johnson became the first woman to qualify for a standard Tour event. Months later, she advanced to the TV finals in the PBA Banquet Open, falling to Tommy Jones in the title match.
Dorin-Lizzi is part of a very successful bowling family. Her husband, Jeff Lizzi, owns one Tour title, while her sister, Carolyn, won 20 Professional Women’s Bowlers Association (PWBA) titles before the league folded in 2003. The PBA opened its membership to women in 2004.
Johnson advanced as far as the round of 16 this week, while Dorin-Lizzi placed 40th (top 32 advance) in the round of 64 leading up to match play.
700 Club — At Brazil, the local 700 Club Trio Tournament took place Feb. 26 at Brazilian Lanes. The winning team included David Elder, Brian Taylor and Ryan Nichols.
The five-man Baker Team Tournament at Paradise Bowl in Clinton was last Sunday. Hopefully, we will have results of that tournament in time for my next column.
Dennis Clark can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
Vigo County Bowling Leagues
Bush Restaurant Senior — High games: Robin Klemaszewski 266, Pat Stewart 235, Die Hards 825. High series: Everett Sweat Jr. 711, Stewart 599, Good Ones 2,321.
Affordable Awards — High games: Kathy Couch 227, Terre Haute Ford/Kia 894. High series: Kathy Boyd 595, Grizzly, Inc. 2,513.
Layton Refrigeration — High games: Richard Layton 267, Jan Garzolini 217, Layton Refrigeration 808. High series: Cody Moore 700, Garzolini 550, Layton Refrigeration 2,229.
Great American Car Wash — High games: Cindy Robinson 193, Waggoner’s State Farm 842. High series: Robinson 519, Lami Craft 2,334.
Thursday Senior Mixed — High games: Herb Gosnell 266, Barbara Terrell 190, Cobras 863. High series: Gosnell 703, Clarene Fisher 523, Cobras 2,398.
Eagles Mixed — High games: Jim Shepherd 277, Lisa Watson 224, Team 14 812. High series: Shepherd 678, Dawn Rayhel 628, Team 14 2,266.
Springhill Wholesale — High games: Marilyn Daniel 211, Jim’s Cleaners 705. High series: Vicki Beal 547, Bell’s Bowlers 2,039.
Distributor’s Terminal — High games: Kathie Britt 193, The Gutter Gals 628. High series: Britt 539, Steve Burris State Farm Insurance 1,815.
School Staff — High games: Bernard Ridens 257, Marilyn Daniel 201, Union Hospital 765. High series: Matt Lugar 635, Daniel 545, Union Hospital 2,205.
Mic’s Pics — High games: Ida Taylor 202, Bowling Belles 542. High series: Taylor 537, Bowling Belles 1,579.
Church — High games: Charles Felling 246, Candy Rooksberry 164, Foursquare No. 1 771. High series: Felling 652, Kelly Hall 443, Foursquare No. 1 2,265.
Vigo Bowl Seniors — High games: Jacob Wright 268, Brittany Foster 256, Team 6 1,023. High series: John Fugate 675, Foster 682, Team 6 3,010.
Vigo Bowl Juniors — High games: J.D. Pizzola 210, Tiffany McConnell 185, Strike Outs 757. High series: Pizzola 516, McConnell 443, Strike Outs 2,085.
Vigo Bowl Preps — High games: C.J. Brooks 159, Marlee Yeager 152, Rock Star Pins 606. High series: Brooks 423, Yeager 418, Rock Star Pins 1,724.
Vigo Bowl Bantams — High games: David McCollum 107, Taylor Reese 97, Bad Boys 389. High series: Cameron Goedeck 174, Reese 174, Bad Boys 740.
Terre Haute Bowling Center
Guarantee Roofing — High games: Randall Cooprider 279, Affordable Awards 1,111. High series: Guy Johnson 748, The Pro Shop 3,210.
Prime Timers — High games: Samuel Scamihorn 245, Josephine Miller 206. High series: Scamihorn 734, Judy Meng 553.
Terre Haute Restaurant — High games: Emmanuel Chambers 236, Kris Mahan 200, Cracker Barrel 730. High series: Colby Martin 639, Lisa Drake 527, Cracker Barrel 2,157.
THBC Seniors — High games: Sean Pepper 279, Mackenzie Pepper 221. High series: S.Pepper 656. M.Pepper 563.
Affordable Awards Mixed — High games: Michael Gambill 278, Melissa Dressler 257, A.K. Enterprizes 2,350. High series: Gambill 722, Dressler 743, A.K. Enterprizes 2,350.
Toyota of Terre Haute — High games: Doug Rhoades 278, Team 3 1,098. High series: David Monroney 689, Team 3 3,162.
Gartland Foundry — High games: Matt Lugar 247, Elnora Murrell 211, Shadows 835. High series: Lugar 666, Murrell 592, Shadows 2,372.
THBC Bantams — High games: Ben Dillion 137, Olivia Gennaro 141. High series: Dillion 351, Emily Hazelrigg 321.
THBC Preps — High games: Bobby Bennett 191, Brittany Wence 150. High series: Bennett 474, Wence 392.
THBC Juniors — High games: Caleb Talpas 223, Katie Lugar and Madison Peabody 171. High series: Jordan Taylor 596, Megan Swan 450.
THBC Majors — High games: C.J. Holt 269, Eryn Remley 247. High series: Holt 740, Remley 706.
THBC Minors — High games: Kevin Williams 146, Maria Walton 120. High series: Cole Walker 340, Walton 288.
Affordable Awards Ladies — High games: Laura Barbour 247, The Pro Shop 1,003. High series: Barbour 619, The Pro Shop 2,655.
C&E; Environmental — High games: John Morris 258, C&E; Environmental 1,067. High series: Morris 692, C&E; Environmental 3,065.
Ang Mixed — High games: George Meiners 234, Jodi Moan 239, Mattox Body Shop 725. High series: John McWilliams 644, Big Dogs 2,037.
THBC Prime Timers — High games: Woody Ferris 279, Pat Kays 218. High series: Samuel Scamihorn 708, Kays 600.
Chandler Construction — High games: Travis Walton 212, Anya Fisher 254, Celebration 801. High series: John Verostko 572, Fisher 634, Celebration 2,109.
Tuesday Morning Ladies — High games: Phyllis Grover 208, We Try Harder 544. High series: Phylis Long 503, We Try Harder 1,351.
Austins Bar Thursday Mixed — High games: Jim M. Smith 269, Sherry Morley 204, Fitzpatrick Pearce 1,000. High series: Tod Harris 662, Julie Tatlock 533, Fitzpatrick Pearce 2,817.
Archie’s Sports Bar — High games: Aaron Myers 278, Stuckey’s 1,119. High series: Myers 723, Stuckey’s 3,252.
WIMS Lounge Monday Mixed — High games: Shaun Drake 257, Ann Barnes 221, Left Overs 748. High series: Drake 700, Barnes 529, Left Overs 2,185.
Sunday Mixed — High games: Eddie Rogers 259, Vicki Rich 257, Stuckey’s 870. High series: Rich 723, Phil Cooper 696, Stuckey’s 2,470.
Wabash Valley Speed and Performance — High games: Dave Stepp 289, Al’s Sports Bar 1,214. High series: Darrell Davis 727, Al’s Sports Bar 3,484.
Saturday Youth — High games: Allen Breshears 244, Heather Breshears 217, Big Dummies 666. High series: A.Breshears 683, H.Breshears 533, Big Dummies 1,823.
John Curry Lanes (Elks)
Thursday Mens — High games: Dave Jozwiak 249, Carosi’s 1,015. High series: Rick Gorham 671, Carosi’s 2,919.
Tuesday Mens — High games: J.C. Dressler 254, Greenleaf 1,000. High series: Dressler 669, Greenleaf 2,863.
Monday Mens — High games: Phil Cooper 279, Williams Plumbing and Heating 1,012. High series: Cooper 763, Williams Plumbing and Heating 2,939.