• U.S.

Sport: Beer Keglers

3 minute read

There are 10,000,000 bowlers in the U. S. A contributing factor to their enthusiasm is the fact that bowling, like golf, is a solo game. A dub and an expert may bowl together and still have fun, for each is competing against his own score: trying to break 200 (upward) as a golfer tries to break 100 (downward). A bowler who averages 190 is good, one who averages 220 is exceptionally good, one who bowls 300 (a perfect game) gets his picture in the papers.

Last week, in Chicago’s vast Coliseum, the American Bowling Congress was rolling into the sixth week of its 1938 session —to determine five-man, two-man and individual U. S. bowling champions. The local “booster” teams had already accomplished their chore of breaking in the brand-new, slippery alleys, which Grade A bowlers dislike. Some 19,000 approved A.B.C. “keglers,”* from every State in the U. S., had bowled their required three games (in each event entered), had posted their scores and gone home. No one had bowled a perfect game.† No team had come within 100 points of the alltime A.B.C. five-man team record of 3,199 (for 15 games), set in 1927.

But there were some 5,000 more delegates scheduled to perform before the Congress adjourns April 19. Hopeful of witnessing a perfect game, or at least seeing some fancy pin-toppling, 5,000 Chicagoans one night last week braved an April blizzard to watch the kegling of the local Birk Brothers (Superb Beer) quintet, which had won almost every tournament in the Midwest this year. Birk Brothers had won the A.B.C. title once—in 1917, with the same lead-off man, Policeman George Geiser, and the same anchor man, Lawyer Jules Lellinger, both of whom have been bowling for Superb Beer for a quarter of a century. Neither had ever posted a perfect game; but the other three members of the team—Leo Krisch, George Notz and Joe Traubenik—had each rolled 300 at least once in their careers.

Those who expected a tenpin tornado were not disappointed. Although no one managed to get a perfect score, the Superb Beer keglers marked up 91 strikes, smashed their way to the biggest scoring jamboree in the history of the A.B.C.— a team total of 3,234 (640, 599, 712, 615, 668), which set a new A.B.C. record.

After seeing their score posted on the board, the Birk Brothers Brewers quintet adjourned to a bar, entertained a half-dozen friends with $35 worth of beer.

* Colloquialism derived from the German word Kegelspiel (bowling).

† In the 38-year history of the A.B.C. championships, only four bowlers (in some 2,000,000 games) ever scored 300.

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