During the 1920s, duckpin bowling spread along the east coast, from New England to Georgia. Duckpin bowling grew rapidly during the 1930s.
By 1938, an estimated 200,000 bowlers were participating in the game. Growth continued more slowly after World War II, reaching a peak of 300,000 league and casual bowlers in 1967.
Duckpins suffered a technical blow when the only company that manufactured its automatic pinsetters ceased operations in 1973. The game has steadily evaporated over the past thirty-five years as one center after another closed its doors, victims of a confluence of demographic, technological, cultural, and economic factors.
At present there are only about 50 centers in the United States, 25 of which are in Maryland and about a dozen in Connecticut.
League bowling has been particularly hard hit: In 1973, there were 40,000 sanctioned duckpin bowlers; today, that figure has plummeted to 9,000.
Duckpin bowling has rules similar to ten-pin bowling. In a 10-frame game, bowlers try to knock down pins in the fewest rolls per frame. Bowlers have three balls per frame, instead of two in ten-pin bowling, to knock over a set of 10 pins. If a bowler knocks down all 10 pins with their first roll in a frame, it is scored as a strike. If all the pins are knocked down in two rolls, the bowler has made a spare. If all the pins are knocked down in three rolls, it is scored as a ten, as in candlepins, with no bonus. If pins are still standing after the third ball, the bowler gets one point for each pin knocked down. According to the NDBC, the official high score in a sanctioned game is 279, rolled by Pete Signore Jr. in 1992, although higher scores have been reported, including a 300. During the sports heyday in the 1970s in Baltimore, there were two different TV shows; both on WMAR-TV dedicated to duckpin bowling:
Duckpins and Dollars
Hosts Bailey Goss, then Chuck Thompson
This show only required contestants to make one strike for the jackpot — a significantly harder task in duckpin bowling than in standard tenpins.
Hosts Tom Cole, then Ron Riley, then Royal Parker
At one point, the show alternated between duckpin and tenpin bowlers.
There are only 2-3 cities that still have Duckpin bowling. Baltimore is one of the last.
Duckpin bowling has had a significant impact on the community, economy, and culture of Baltimore. The sport has brought people together and created a sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods where local bowling alleys are a gathering place for families and friends. Duckpin bowling leagues have also been a way for Baltimoreans to bond over a shared love of the sport.
From an economic standpoint, duckpin bowling has provided jobs and generated revenue for the city. In the early 1900s, duckpin bowling alleys were a major industry in Baltimore, with dozens of alleys operating throughout the city. Today, while the industry has declined, duckpin bowling alleys still provide jobs and generate revenue for the city. They also help to revitalize neighborhoods by attracting new businesses and residents.
Duckpin bowling has also had a significant impact on the culture of Baltimore. The sport has become an iconic symbol of the city, celebrated in local artwork and literature, and featured in popular culture through films like "Tin Men" and "Diner." Duckpin bowling has also been recognized as a unique cultural tradition by the Maryland State Arts Council, which awarded a grant to the National Duckpin Bowling Congress in 2018 to support the preservation and promotion of the sport.
Duckpin bowling has long been a way for Baltimoreans to come together and bond over a shared love of the sport. Many Baltimoreans have fond memories of spending time at the local bowling alley with family and friends, and the sport has helped to build a sense of community in many neighborhoods throughout the city. Duckpin bowling leagues are also popular in Baltimore, providing a way for bowlers to compete and socialize on a regular basis.
Duckpin bowling has had a significant economic impact on Baltimore, both historically and today. In the early 1900s, duckpin bowling alleys were a booming industry in the city, with dozens of alleys operating throughout the city. Today, duckpin bowling alleys continue to be a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, providing jobs and generating revenue for the city. The sport has also helped to revitalize many neighborhoods throughout the city, providing a focal point for community activity and attracting new businesses and residents.
Duckpin bowling is an important part of Baltimore's cultural heritage, and has become an iconic symbol of the city. The sport is often featured in local artwork and literature, and has been celebrated in popular culture through films like "Tin Men" and "Diner." Duckpin bowling has also been recognized as a unique cultural tradition by the Maryland State Arts Council, which awarded a grant to the National Duckpin Bowling Congress in 2018 to support the preservation and promotion of the sport.
Duckpin bowling differs from ordinary tenpin bowling in the size of the balls and pins. A duckpin ball is much smaller than a tenpin ball, about five inches in diameter and weighing only a few pounds.
Because of its small size, it can be held comfortably in a cupped hand and no holes are necessary. The pins are much smaller and lighter than tenpins, although their number (10) and arrangement on the pin deck are identical to tenpins.
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