by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
“Down by the river that flows by the coal yard,
Stand wooden houses with shutters torn down
There lives a girl everybody calls Patches…..”
The opening lines of the song by Dickey Lee actually rose to the top of the charts in August of 1962, before the British invasion. Also in 1962, and the years that followed, Bowling league directors and team captains were issued a booklet of playing rules, furnished by the ABC and WIBC. Few people ever read the rules, the League President or Secretary may have used the book a time or two to settle an argument. But everyone turned to the center of the book to observe the awards that were available for superior accomplishments.
For those elite bowlers who might throw 11 or 12 strikes in a game, there were rings, trophies, and plaques. But for the huddled mass of middle class bowlers, we had cloth patches that could be sewn on a bowling shirt. For those of you that are too young to remember bowling shirts, they were generally loose fitting shirts that displayed the sponsor logo or advertising message on the back. In most cases, the bowlers first name was displayed on the front of the shirt, above the pocket. Now, for those of you too young to remember shirt pockets, It was an extra piece of cloth sewn on the front of the shirt, so you could carry a pen or pack of cigarettes.
Patches were awarded for a number of accomplishments. High games of 298 or better; three game series of 700 or better for men, 600 or better for women, triplicate series, a dutch 200 game, split conversions of the big four or the 7-10. The league champion team members were also awarded a patch for the season.
I’m not sure when the transition started, but bowling shirts have now been replaced by hooded sweatshirts, regular sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off, NFL, MLB, and NBA jerseys with a favorite players name on the back, tank tops, and plain old T-shirts. It’s okay though, because the colorful patches of days gone by have been replaced by a magnetized rubber award which you can use to attach your kids school paper to the fridge, or just stick them on the fender of your car to cover the dirty spots.
I was lucky enough to acquire a number of pins and patches over the years. I display some in frames and keep others in a scrapbook. I miss the patches, but I’m sure it is a cost saving measure, and I still applaud the USBC for continuing to recognize scoring accomplishments for all bowlers. I do have concerns however that soon the awards may turn virtual. Bowl an 800 series and the USBC will text an e-patch to your cell phone. Save it and show it to your friends, but you’ll still need a pocket for your phone. Happy 2012 to everyone!!