Video: Louisiana’s professional bowling history
Living in these current stay-at-home times has sports fans looking back to quench their thirst for competition. In the sport of professional bowling, Louisiana – and specifically New Orleans – has had its share of events and competitors.
New Orleans was a regular stop on the Professional Bowlers Association tour in the 1960s and 1970s, and again briefly from 1988-90. In 1969, the two top winners on the PBA Tour to that point, Dick Weber and Bill Allen, faced off for the New Orleans Lions Open championship at Pelican Lanes.
In 1977, the action crossed the river to Expressway Lanes, where Earl Anthony set multiple records en route to being the tournament leader. He would face Don Johnson in the final match.
Louisiana natives have also appeared on telecasts. New Orleanian Bobby Jacks, who won three times on tour as a 19-year-old in 1966, returned to the tour and put himself in position to win again at the 1985 Molson Golden Bowling Challenge in Canada.
Twice in the 1980s, a pair of in-state products appeared on the same telecast. In 1986, Jacks led and tour newcomer Purvis Granger of Lafayette – making his TV debut – was second heading into the televised finals of the 1986 Miller Lite Challenge in Tucson, Arizona.
When the tour returned to the New Orleans area in 1988 for the Don Carter’s Greater New Orleans Classic at Don Carter’s All Star Lanes in Harvey, Granger qualified second and local product Scott Monteleone was the crowd favorite against a young Pete Weber in the opening match.
Though New Orleans has not hosted an “official” PBA event in 30 years, it was the home for two years of the Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational during CP3’s time with the Hornets. Paul and the tour’s current biggest star, Jason Belmonte, teamed up to win in 2010.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…