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Our History
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Syracuse has a very unique bowling history. So being one of the oldest bowling communities in the U.S., we have taken the opportunity of collecting information from bowlers scrapbooks, the Onondaga Historical Association, the Syracuse Public Library, the Post-Standard, the Herald Journal and the Herald American. We are going to document some of the highlights of bowling in Syracuse dating back to the 1870's and we will be updating some of this information periodically as it becomes available.

THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS

1870-1920

Bowling got started in Syracuse in 1870. The first two bowling alleys were constructed in the basement of the Wieting Opera House on South Salina Street. One Lincoln Center presently occupies this site.
 

The first bowling match in Syracuse history was held in 1879 at Lenehans Bowling Alley, which was located in the basement of the Wieting Opera House. It consisted of a one game match between a team from Syracuse against a team from Utica. Each team was comprised of ten bowlers and it took two hours to complete the match. These two teams bowled a home and home match with the first match taking place in Utica on February 13, 1879 and the second match in Syracuse on February 27, 1879. The Team from Syracuse won both matches. The score of the match in Utica was 1,605 to 1,518 in favor of Syracuse and the score of the match in Syracuse was 1,894 to 1,834 also in favor of Syracuse. The individual scores of the match in Syracuse were as follows.

 

 

 

 

SYRACUSE
UTICA
Chas. Vanderbilt
194
J. Vivian
197
M. Daly
226
P. Faas
128
R. Whittle
187
L. Davis
177
F. Becker
179
J. McNierny
156
M. Welch
183
W. Williams
151
J. Murphy
156
J. Schremp
195
W. Heffron
169
C. Herbert
215
J. Dwyre
210
J. Osterman
209
T. Galvin
183
C. Knapp
187
D. Hennessey
207
J. Donohue
219
1,894
1,834

 

In 1905, the "New York State" bowling league was formed. John G. Foss of Buffalo, Mayor M.W. Gage of Rochester and Manny Goldstein of Syracuse founded it. The first cities included Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Schenectady, Utica, Albany and Binghamton. 

On February 4th, 1907, there was a meeting held at the Gordon Alleys to form the City League. There were six teams with six bowlers each and five of the six bowlers would bowl in the team event each week. The six best bowlers as determined by their fellow bowlers would be made the captains of the six teams. They in turn would pick the other members of their respective teams. The first year, the league started on February 8, 1907 bowling on Friday evenings at Gordon's alleys and also at Potters Club.

Bernie Maurer was considered to be the best bowler in Syracuse and also was considered to be one of the best bowlers in the United States. In 1912, Bernie was rated as the number two bowler in the U.S. while Jimmy Smith of New York City was rated as the number one bowler. For two years, they traveled around the country together putting on exhibition matches.
A chapter of the Atlantic Coast Bowling Association was formed in Syracuse in 1915 and the officers were; James Mulheran (President), Charles Pross (Vice-President), Michael Sargis (Treasurer) and M.H. Paddock (Secretary).
In 1917 the Palace team finished in second place in the A.B.C. Tournament in Grand Rapids Michigan with a score of 3047. They were the very first team to bowl over a 3000 score in the tournament. Members of the team were; Walter Woodin, Frank Scoville, Dave Stockham, Eugene Ryan and Albert Zwilling.

Pictured above is a photo from 1918 which showed fourteen of the areas top bowlers. They were participating in an elimination tournament for Syracuse to see who would represent Syracuse in a Central New York tournament. They were from left to right, Bob Steinmiller, Bernie Maurer, Leon Beckwith, Charles Partridge, Floyd Bentley, (inserts James Mulheran, Jack Ryan, Joe Kilman), Lewis Collins, Mike Carns, Frank Scoville, Harold Williams, on the bottom is H.C. Yakey and "Duke" Ivers.
The first formidable bowling team in Syracuse History came along in 1919. They went by the name 'Romans' and dominated the bowling scene in Syracuse for the next twelve years. They were so popular that they attracted many young bowlers of Italian heritage to the game of ten pins. During the 1920's, all five of these bowlers were picked up on either the first or second All-Star teams no less than five times each. The team members were; James LaTessa, John O. Martino, Frank Cattalane, Harold Williams and Jack Schlie.