William V. Thompson

William V. Thompson (April 25, 1865 – September 30, 1938) was an American professional and champion tenpin bowler. He was the proprietor of Plaza Bowling Alley in the Chicago Plaza Hotel, the first official regulation ten-pin bowling alley. He formed a bowling club from champion bowlers and challenged other organizations across the nation. Thompson was influential in forming of the ultimate sanctioned regulations rules of the game and an advocate of the original American Bowling Congress. He was general manager of the department at Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company that made the bowling equipment for the alleys.

William V. Thompson
Thompson in 1909
Born(1865-04-25)April 25, 1865
DiedSeptember 30, 1938(1938-09-30) (aged 73)
NationalityAmerican
Years active1891–1921
Known forChampion tenpin bowler
Notable work
Rules for tenpin bowling
Spouse(s)Margaret M. Thompson
Children2

Biography

Thompson was born in Princeton, Illinois on April 4, 1865. While in his teens he was part of the high school sprinters. Thompson was on the Princeton Tigers football team in his early twenties. His first career job was as a railroad man in his early twenties. Around 1911 he picked up an interest in ten-pin bowling, a new game at the time.[1]

Thompson decided in his mid-twenties to become a professional bowler. He became an expert champion bowler of Chicago in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century.[2][3][4][5] Thompson had his own team called the Chicago Colts.[1][6][7][8] He was in charge of the champion bowlers of Chicago at this time and set up tournaments with other organizations around the United States.[9][10][11]

In 1889 Thompson owned a bowling alley in the basement of the Plaza Hotel located in north Chicago at Clark Street.[12][13] In 1891 he started to upgraded his slate alleys to a larger size and wood construction.[14] His design was adopted in 1892 as the standard regulation type and size for future alleys of ten-pin bowling.[14][15] The Plaza Bowling Alley was the first official regulation bowling alley and others followed in its footsteps. [1][16] Chicago had 230 certified regulation bowling alleys by 1910, many of which Thompson personally inspired.[17]

Thompson was nicknamed "W.V." in the bowling circles throughout the United States.[1] He formed a bowling club in 1894 at the Plaza Hotel from the champion bowlers of the Plaza Bowling Alley. His club challenged other clubs across the nation that had regulation bowling alleys that were developing at the time.[18] Arrangements for cash prizes and trophies for these contests were through the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company.[19][20][21]

Accolades

Thompson was labeled by many as the "Father of Bowling" for his efforts to get the new game of ten-pin bowling to standardized rules that all would follow for fair contests.[22][23][24][25][26][27] Many details concerning rules and regulations had to be worked out for contests and tournaments (i.e. pin size, pin positioning, ball specifications, lane dimensions, foul line, penalties).[20] Thompson helped formulate these and promoted the new game more than any other person during this time in its early stages of development.[28][29][30][31][32] Thompson, however, preferred not to be called the "Father of Bowling" so was given the title "Dean of Bowling" instead for his involvement in promoting the game to tournament standards.[14]

Thompson was the manager of the manufacturing department at Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company that made the majority of the equipment for the game.[22][33][34][35][36] He worked directly under and was closely associated with Brunswick's president Moses Bensinger. He managed Brunswick's All-Star bowling team on promotional tours around the United States.[37][38][39][40] Thompson was sent by Bensinger as a counselor to England, France and Germany to help launch the new game to Europeans and introduce Brunswick's bowling products.[1] He showed them the American hook for making strikes.[1]

Clubs and associations

Thompson was a major contributor to the forming of the ultimate sanctioned rules and regulations of tenpin bowling that became the by-laws of American Bowling Congress (ABC).[14] He was known in the Eastern United States as the protector of the ABC and its bylaws for regulation tenpin bowling.[41] He became the vice-president of the ABC in 1900 and continued for the next five years.[17][42][43][44] The by-laws governing the rule on the regulations of the balls, pins, and alleys were updated several times through his efforts.[45] From time to time various bowling associations that Thompson worked with eventually joined the ABC and followed their by-laws.[46][47][48][49]

Thompson assisted in setting up a world's bowling championship tournament at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.[50] At that time he was claimed to have earned more trophies and prizes for his bowling talents than any other man.[17] By 1909 he was well known in the bowling field worldwide.[51]

Thompson was associated with the Illinois Bowling Association in the early 1900s.[52] He was also associated with the New York Rotary Club at that time and helped organize contests for most of the Rotary Clubs throughout the United States.[53] During this same time he was a Turner in the Chicago German-American gymnastic club.[17] Thompson often bowled with Mrs. Gertrude Hull, the woman national champion of America then in the early 1900s.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60]

References

  1. Davis, J. R. (December 24, 1911). "W. V. Thompson, Leader in Bowler World". Anaconda Standard. Anaconda, Montana via Newspapers.com .
  2. "Champion Bowler". Nebraska State Journal. Lincoln, Nebraska. April 20, 1899 via Newspapers.com .
  3. "Delay Official Announcement For Arrival of Late Entries". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. May 11, 1909 via Newspapers.com .
  4. "William V. Thompson". Pittsburgh Daily Post. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. March 19, 1909 via Newspapers.com .
  5. "The Champion Bowler". Times-Democrat. New Orleans, Louisiana. February 17, 1901 via Newspapers.com .
  6. "Greatest Bowling Tournament of the World will begin in Louisville Saturday with 20,000 bowlers in attendance". Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. March 11, 1906 via Newspapers.com .
  7. "Personal and Otherwise". Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. May 5, 1907 via Newspapers.com .
  8. "Six Bowling Congresses". Omaha Daily Bee. Omaha, Nebraska. February 16, 1908 via Newspapers.com .
  9. "National Bowling Congress". Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. February 21, 1902 via Newspapers.com .
  10. "Booming in Louisville". Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 9, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  11. "Bowlers of Cincinnati". Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 30, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  12. "Opinions of the Experts / Chicago Bowling Tournament Highly Praised". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. January 13, 1901 via Newspapers.com .
  13. "Wants a Bowling Tournament with St. Paul". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. March 3, 1895 via Newspapers.com .
  14. ""Dean of Bowling" now a New Yorker". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. October 9, 1915 via Newspapers.com .
  15. "Why Bowling is Popular". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. February 1, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  16. "Chicago Recreation Survey". Archive.org. 1938. Retrieved November 24, 2016. The first regulation bowling alley in the city of Chicago was installed in 1891 in the Plaza Hotel, situated at Clark Street and North Avenue.
  17. Pfister 2013, p. 47.
  18. "Plaza Bowling Club's Challenge". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. September 9, 1894 via Newspapers.com .
  19. "Bowling for prizes". Wheeling Daily. Wheeling, West Virginia. January 11, 1898 via Newspapers.com .
  20. "Inter-City Bowling". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. March 10, 1895 via Newspapers.com .
  21. "A Bit of a Hitch". The Saint Paul Globe. Saint Paul, Minnesota. March 25, 1895 via Newspapers.com .
  22. "Booklet Issued by Company A Factor". Washington Herald. Washington, D.C. November 16, 1915 via Newspapers.com .
  23. "Select A.C.B.A. Leaders With P.T. Moran at Helm". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. November 11, 1915 via Newspapers.com .
  24. "Bowlers Honor Grant". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. December 5, 1915 via Newspapers.com .
  25. "no title". Washington Times. Washington, D.C. April 4, 1916 via Newspapers.com .
  26. "Duckpin Scores are Low". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. April 4, 1916 via Newspapers.com .
  27. "A.C.B.A. is to meet at Ebbitt Tomorrow". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. December 3, 1915 via Newspapers.com .
  28. "Sporting News". Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. December 6, 1898 via Newspapers.com .
  29. "All Star Bowlers". Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. November 15, 1898 via Newspapers.com .
  30. "Chicago has Good Teams". Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. March 3, 1907 via Newspapers.com .
  31. "Brunswicks Crowd a League Record". Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. December 20, 1913 via Newspapers.com .
  32. "Brunswick Players Roll a Four-Figure Total". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. March 19, 1902 via Newspapers.com .
  33. "Thompson's Great Work". Indianapolis News. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 15, 1900 via Newspapers.com .
  34. "Thompson is Optimistic". Indianapolis News. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 10, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  35. "Champion Woman Bowler to Compete". Oregon Daily Journal. Portland, Oregon. March 8, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  36. "Bowlers will Flock to City". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. December 25, 1909 via Newspapers.com .
  37. "All Stars are Coming". Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. November 14, 1899 via Newspapers.com .
  38. "Champion Woman Bowler". Indianapolis. Indianapolis, Indiana. February 26, 1900 via Newspapers.com .
  39. "National Interest in Coming Tournament". Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. February 1, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  40. "Tournament Gossip". Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. February 9, 1908 via Newspapers.com .
  41. "Tri-City Tenpin Match Presents Best Bowlers of cities Represented". Washington Times. Washington, D.C. January 22, 1916 via Newspapers.com .
  42. Colby 1900, p. 132.
  43. "With the Bowlers". Saint Paul Globe. Saint Paul, Minnesota. January 11, 1901 via Newspapers.com .
  44. "For Bowling Congress". Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. December 18, 1905 via Newspapers.com .
  45. "Crisis Exists in Alley Game". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. February 1, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  46. "Bookwater Chosen". Saint Paul Globe. Saint Paul, Minnesota. January 24, 1902 via Newspapers.com .
  47. "Interest in Tournament". Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. August 20, 1902 via Newspapers.com .
  48. "Chicago leads Bowling World". Chicago, Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. February 1, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  49. "Buffalo after A.B.C. Tourney". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. June 10, 1909 via Newspapers.com .
  50. "Bowling at World's Fair". Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. March 6, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  51. "Famous Bowling Star". Pittsburgh Daily Post. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 23, 1909 via Newspapers.com .
  52. New York World 1911, p. 373.
  53. Rotary International 1917, p. 248.
  54. "no title". Minneapolis Journal. Minneapolis, Minnesota. February 29, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  55. "Champion Woman Bowler to Compete". Oregon Daily Journal. Portland, Oregon. March 8, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  56. "Mrs Hull Rolls a Match". Pittsburgh Daily Post. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 24, 1909 via Newspapers.com .
  57. "Women Will Bowl". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochchester, New York. February 2, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  58. "Pertinent Advice for Women Bowlers". Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. November 25, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  59. "Mrs Hull to play in East". Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. February 29, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  60. "Three Straight for New York". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. October 13, 1908 via Newspapers.com .

Sources

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