Why do I love bowling?

Jim Margueratt reflects on the life long rewards of Hamilton’s bowling lanes

bowling_alleyWhy do I love bowling? That is a complex question. To hopefully answer it, let’s go way back when bowling entered my life. During our high school days, my brother, Edward, and I were looking for part-time jobs. Two blocks away was a 10-lane bowling house called Queenston Bowl. We secured work as pin-boys working Thursday and Friday nights at six cents a game for five-pins and 10 cents a game for 10-pins. At the end of our shifts, we would take turns setting up pins for the other pin-boys. That was the beginning of my life-long love of bowling.

For the next several years I was just a 10-pin bowler once or twice a week, first at Queenston Bowl, than Skyway Lanes. In 1979 I was asked to join the Hamilton and District Tenpin Bowling Association as a director, then assistant secretary-treasurer and tournament director, along with my current position as publicity director.

In 1981 when Hamilton hosted the provincial tournament, I attended the Provincial meeting and was elected a director. For the next 23 years I was privileged to travel all over Ontario attending meetings and bowling in the annual tournament. During that time I also represented Hamilton at tournaments and meetings from Victoria to Montreal. At one of the Canadian championships in Vancouver I was asked to be a foul line judge. That was an interesting experience and I was glad I didn’t have to call a foul.

The highlights of my tournament experiences were attending the American Zone Championships in Winnipeg in 1981 and Wichita, Kansas in 1989. That was topped by attending the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland in 1987 where I witnessed a perfect game by Rick Steelsmith while I was standing on a chair. There I met bowlers from the world over – Australia, Italy, Japan, Germany, France, England, and countless others. It included a memorable boat trip to Stockholm. Conversing was not a problem as most spoke English.

For the past 35 years, I was also a member of the World Bowling Writers and Bowling Writers Association of America which merged in 2012 to become the International Bowling Media Association. That membership enabled me to travel to the past eight Bowl Expos in Las Vegas, Reno, Orlando and Dallas and meet many of the top pro bowlers and bowling industry leaders. Side trips included the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Tahoe, and Texas Rangers night baseball games where it was 106F at game time. I spent many hours in the U.S.B.C. halls of fame in Arlington, Texas, and Reno, Nevada looking at the history of bowling, which includes the bowling ball that Frank Young used on Feb. 1, 1881 to roll the world’s first ever 300 game in Hamilton.

When I was a rookie bowling writer in 1982, I was honoured to have a 30-minute private talk with the late great Earl Anthony when he visited Hamilton. When asked about the possibility of a perfect 900 triple he replied it will happen soon and he was right. At the moment, the count is more than 20.

I met Earl again in Helsinki and Niagara Falls and talked with Dick Weber when he visited Toronto. At the Professional Bowlers Association stop in Hamilton in 1981, I had the pleasure of witnessing Kevin Gillette win his only PBA title and was in Toronto when Mark Roth won his last PBA title. Driving home from a PBA stop in a December snowstorm from Buffalo was “unforgettable”.

Two of the many bowling highlights included watching the U.S. Women’s Open in Texas Stadium in Dallas in 2011 and Reno in 2012 where it was held outdoors under the Reno arch. The conditions were challenging to say the least with dust and the wind making the lanes very difficult.

Why do I love bowling? It has allowed me to travel throughout Ontario, Canada, the United States and the memorable boat trip from Helsinki to Stockholm; it has enable me to meet the top bowlers from many foreign countries; it has enabled me to see many of the top tourist attractions in Canada, the United States, Finland, Sweden, and Holland.

To think all of this, and much more, happened because the local bowling lanes were only two blocks away and my brother and I were looking for part-time work after school. My bowling experiences have taken me from those short two blocks to many thousands of miles. From setting up pins – and more important, dodging those same pins as there was little protection – from Hamilton, Ontario to Helsinki, Finland and meeting bowlers and non-bowlers from all over the world. It has been a very rewarding experience which I hope to continue for many more years.

That is why I love bowling.