Throwback Thursday 8/18/16: “History Proves Ackley’s Count Only 3rd Highest”

“Best way possible to straighten out a bit of history is to record it inaccurately to start with. This happened last Tuesday with the story of Eleanor Ackley’s momentous night at Highland Park Bowl, Moline, when she cracked out a powerful 695 series.

At the time, and after checking a couple of sources, it was believed Eleanor’s big count, brought into being on games of 161, 266 and 268, was the highest ladies’ series ever rolled in this area.

But a wonderful lady named Beulah Abbott, who was in her heydey when this writer’s Ivy League trousers still had three corners, holds the record. In fact has two scores higher than Eleanor’s.

We contacted veteran Davenport bowler Ethel Methven yesterday to learn of our error. Mrs. Methven was a witness to both of Beulah’s big counts in the year 1932.

Davenport’s women’s association had just been sanctioned in April 1932, over violent protest of some bowlers who didn’t want to belong to the Women’s International Bowling Congress.

Then on the night of Nov. 21, at Hilson Alleys, now Capitol Lanes, Beulah made more than one piece of bowling history and it made the alliance more agreeable to all concerned.

She started with a 222 game then came back with a perfect 300. This set the stage for a minon “letdown” in which Beulah shot “only” 189. But it was good for the all-time mark of 711.

Just a month later, Beaulah, who is still rolling in League play at Davenport’s “30” Lanes, cracked out a 709 at Hilson’s. At the time the lady, who now lives in LeClaire, was averaging 181.

Mrs. Methven also recalls that Beulah’s 300 was not the only one that season. In March of 1933, Bernie Thee of Davenport turned the trick.

So Eleanor Ackley, modern day Beulah Abbott most assuredly, does not have the record. But she joins a pretty select club and we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if some day she cracks that 700 mark. And when she does, we’ll be ready for it this time.”

-Dick Christenson
Moline Dispatch
December 9, 1960

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Throwback Thursday 8/11/16: “Sands Storms Lanes For RIBA Series Scoring Mark”

“Al Sands, an Eldridge resident who is the bowling manager at the Family Fun Center in Rock Island, set a new Rock Island Bowling Association scoring record last week when he authored a mammouth 856 series in the 4-10 League at the Rock Island center.

Games of 277, 279 and 300 allowed the 38-year-old Sands to edge ahead of Chuck Titus, whose 855 at Town & Country Lanes in 1984 had been the previous record.

Sands needed every pin in the perfect game to become the new record holder.

“This was the first 800 I have ever had and I really wanted it,” the genial left hander noted. “I had been close several times, but this time after getting the first six strikes in the last game, I knew I could get 800 if I didn’t have any open frames.”

The perfecto was the sixth 300 for Sands. This time, on only one delivery was there a doubt about it being a strike.

“In the seventh frame, I had a light hit, but a couple of pins fell forward and gave me the strike,” he explained.

Sands now has the RIBA scoring record, but he fell a few pins short of the top series ever bowled at the Family Fun Center.

The house record is the 864 rolled earlier this season in the Foul Play junior league by Moline resident Randy Hawk.

Interestingly, just three days prior to Sands’ big outing, Hawk was presented the YABA 800 ring in recognition of his gigantic series.”

-The Rock Island Argus
January 7, 1995

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“Last evening the organization of the Tri-City Bowling league was perfected at a meeting held at the Central alleys in this city. There are to be six clubs in the league, two from the Central alleys here, two from the Brunswick alleys in Moline, and two from the Allen alleys in Davenport.

It was settled that the schedule shall include a series lasting 10 weeks, 10 games being played by each club. The meetings will be held Monday evenings, the first matches being played next Monday, one in each city. The details of the schedule were left with A. D. Sperry, of this city, to arrange. The A. B. C. rules will govern the contests and the winning team will be awarded a trophy.

The clubs that will enter have not yet chosen their names and unless they do so at once they will be known by number in the beginning of the series. By-laws were adopted last evening. Each club is to appoint one member of an executive committee and that body is to hold a meeting in this city next Friday evening for the purpose of finally ratifying the schedule and attending to other details.”

-The Rock Island Argus
December 9, 1902

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End of An Era at Sam’s Highland Park Bowl


A 1965 postcard from Sam’s Highland Park Bowl featuring a 1962 artist rendering for the future facility expansion

The closure of Sam’s Highland Park Bowl last month marked the end of an era for the Moline bowling center. Highland Park Bowl, and the Gnatovich family, have served the Quad Cities bowling community for the past fifty-seven years. The facility was also home to the largest league base in the Greater Rock Island County USBC. However, as one era came to a close, a new day was beginning.

On June 17, 2016, the sale of Sam’s Highland Park Bowl to Frank Miroballi was announced. Frank is also the proprietor of the QC Family Entertainment Center. The Gnatovich family has owned and operated Highland Park Bowl since Sam Gnatovich opened the facility in 1959. The 48 lane bowling center originally only consisted of 24 lanes, lanes 1 through 24. The facility expansion, and addition of lanes 25 through 48, began three years later. Since Sam’s passing in 2006, the center has been operated by his two daughters, Susan and Sandy. Sadly, Susan passed away in May.

Some scoring records from Sam’s Highland Park Bowl:

June 15, 1960: Bob Neff rolls the first 300 at HPB during Sam’s Wednesday Night Mixed League.
February 17, 1975:
 Jerry Cosner bowls the first 300 game ever recorded during the Moline – East Moline Bowling Association Tournament, and in the process breaks Singles and All-Events records.
May 23, 1979: Don Johnson rolls an 823 series, the first 800 series ever bowled at HPB.
June 22, 1980: Nancy Wruck becomes the first woman to bowl a 300 game in the Illinois Quad Cities while competing in the annual Dispatch Handicap Singles Bowling Tournament.
May 2002: The Fargo Sports team consisting of Deb Erickson, Dee Angaran, Sandy Davis, Judy Spahn and Barb Anderson sets a new WIBC Divison One scoring record with their 3,000 series total. The record score would hold up to take the WIBC Division One Team Championship.
March 27, 2005: While bowling in the monthly Scratch for Ca$h tournament, Eric Littig rolls games of 204, 300 and 300 becoming the first person to bowl back-to-back perfect games in the history of the Moline – East Moline USBC Bowling Association.
October 18, 2006: Darren Yusko rolls games of 300, 298 and 289 enroute to an 887 series, the highest series ever bowled in the Moline – East Moline USBC Bowling Association.
December 4, 2006: The four-man Western Residential Mortgage team of Bryan Schuldt, Ron Schuldt, Josh Cantrill and Joe Roseman from the Sam’s Highland Park Masters league bowls the highest four-man team series, a 3,093 total, in the nation for the 2006-2007 bowling season.

Note: If you have any information, photos, stories, scores, records, association history, etc. that you would like to share on this website, please send an email to

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Throwback Thursday 6/23/16: “Fistful of $ on tap at Highland Park”


Mabel Gregory, Jeanette Nelson, Penny Spaulding, Eleanor Cosper and Bob Cosper pose to promote the second annual Argus/Dispatch Handicap Singles Bowling Tournament at Highland Park Bowl running from April 16 to June 19, 1988. Up for grabs was $10,000 to any bowler rolling a 300 game.

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Throwback Thursday 5/12/16: 1954 Argus Singles Classic

Leroy Seuss, Rock Island Bowling Association Secretary, presents Erich Maahs his 300 award ring from the American Bowling Congress for his perfect game during the 1954 Argus Singles Classic.

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Throwback Thursday 4/21/16: “Quad-Citians Have Been Bowling For 148 years”

“A while back, several older bowlers — yes, I was one of them — were discussing former bowling centers that had been in business many years ago. Someone raised the question as to how long bowling has been available in the Quad-Cities.

In reviewing my records, I realized that the game of bowling has existed locally for 148 years. It was in 1858 that the Rock Island City Directory listed a “bowling saloon” located between 19th and 20th streets on First Avenue that was operated by John Leinhart.

Coincidentally, the Davenport City Directory for 1858 also listed a bowling saloon. This business was located at 43 Brady Street and was operated by James Gallaner.

Such early bowling facilities likely consisted of one or two alleys and were for the enjoyment of each saloon’s customers. If any leagues were formed back then, they would have been unsanctioned. It was not until 1895 that the American Bowling Congress was formed. The Women’s International Bowling Congress came into existence some 20 years later.

A second question arose from the previously mentioned discussion. That query asked if it was known how many different bowling facilities have existed in the Quad-Cities. In research completed several years ago, I was able to identify 70 locations at which the game of bowling has been available. Today, the number of certified bowling centers is seven. Four are located in Davenport while three are in the Illinois Quad-Cities. In addition, the Davenport Outing Club has four non-certified lanes on its premises.

Bowling existed, at some point in time, in locations that were more rural than might have been expected. It was about 100 years ago that bowling was available in Blackhawk Park. Even earlier, there were bowling alleys on Credit Island, then called Grand Isle.

Alleys were installed at the Rock Island Arsenal during World War II to be used by its employees. Immanuel Lutheran Church in Rock Island had two alleys on its premises for use by its members.

Many area bowlers will recall such centers as Central Alleys, Bowladrome, Spectors and Topspot in Rock Island; Elks Club, LeClaire Alleys, Sixth Avenue Recreation and Playdium in Moline; and Rocket Alleys and Regal Lanes in East Moline.

Also, Midway, Hob Nob, West View Lanes, Hilson’s and Suburban Lanes served bowlers in Davenport, and Kimber Lanes and Plaza Bowl did so in Bettendorf.

All of these centers are gone from the bowling scene, but each was a vibrant business in local tenpin history.”

-Cal Whitmore
The Rock Island Argus
October 21, 2006

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