Duckpin Bowling – What is that?

Another part of my surprise birthday weekend in Indianapolis was playing Duckpin bowling with Jodi.  I had never heard of it and we learned that it has been around since the 1900’s but mostly on the east coast.  In fact, Indianapolis is as far west in the country it has ever been played.  The origin of the sport is a subject of some debate. One possible origin is that duckpin bowling began in Baltimore around 1900, at a bowling, billiards and pool hall owned by future baseball Hall of Famers John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, both of the then Baltimore Orioles.

Duckpin bowling is a variation of 10-pin bowling. The balls used in duckpin bowling are 4-3/4 in (12 cm) to 5 in (12.7 cm) in diameter (which is slightly larger than a softball), weigh 3 lb 6 oz (1.5 kg) to 3 lb 12 oz (1.7 kg) each, and lack finger holes. They are thus significantly smaller than those used in ten-pin bowling but are slightly larger and heavier than those used in candlepin bowling. The pins, while arranged in a triangular fashion identical to that used in ten-pin bowling, are shorter, smaller, and lighter than their ten-pin equivalents which makes it more difficult to achieve a strike. For this reason (and similar to candlepin bowling), the bowler is allowed three rolls per frame (as opposed to the standard two rolls per frame in ten-pin bowling).

I was feeling rather confident when we went for our reservation time on Saturday (yes, you actually make an appointment to play in half hour increments).  The location was in the historic Fountain Square Theatre { }, a very unique building landmark in Indy.

Being an a decent average bowler in years past, I figured this would be simple, and with three rolls per frame, who couldn’t knock them all down?  Well, it’s a little different than regular bowling!!  In fact, Jodi beat me both games we rolled.  Some birthday surprise!  It was so much FUN though!  Just to toss a little ball down the lane knocking into these little short and squatty bowling pins was a blast and I quickly saw what the attraction was all about.

Granted the lanes were a bit aged and not too level any more, but it was still so much fun to roll the little balls down the lane.  The alley themselves were a throw back to the 50’s.  Just check out the old pop machine and the sign boasting about air conditioning.  There are also lanes on the 4th floor in the building and all lanes were being used!!  Now I can’t wait to get Jodi on the lanes at Stardust Bowl back here in town so I can get my game back!!!  If in Indy, check it out. Certainly kid and family friendly and you can just wear your street shoes!  -Rick Bella for Bella Photography



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