Following Saturday’s abrupt closure of Patterson Bowling Center, a nearly century-old facility on Eastern Avenue, you may be left wondering where else to turn for duckpin bowling.
Don’t worry — there are several other bowling alleys in Baltimore and its surrounding counties that offer duckpin lanes.
Patterson Bowling Center owner Ken Staub told The Baltimore Banner in an email Saturday that the building’s owner was finalizing a sale to a buyer who plans to convert the longtime duckpin alley into apartment units.
So, what is duckpin bowling, and is it true it was invented here?
Compared to traditional tenpin bowling, duckpin bowling features smaller bowling balls that fit in an adult’s hand and shorter, wider pins. It has been played in Baltimore since around 1900.
The game’s history is murky, but some believe that it was invented by Orioles players John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson at their saloon on Howard Street called The Diamond. According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, McGraw and Robinson, who added bowling to The Diamond in 1898, found its tenpin bowling lanes were popular in the winter, but not so much during the summer — when it was hot inside the saloon, and the balls were heavy.
They had balls made that were smaller and lighter, and named the sport duckpin, according to The Sun.
But according to The New York Times, “Research has since found references to duckpin dating to the early 1890s, in New Haven, Boston and Lowell, Mass,” putting McGraw and Robinson’s origin story in doubt.
The game became particularly popular in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland, according to The Times. It has since spread to places such as Argentina and the Philippines, according to Steve Rowley, co-owner of Parkville Bowling Lanes.
Many say the game is harder than tenpin bowling, and The New York Times reported in 2016 that no one has ever scored 300 points — a perfect game — in duckpin bowling.
Where can I go to play duckpin bowling now?
6703 York Rd., Baltimore
Parkville Bowling Lanes
7607 Harford Rd., Baltimore
The alley has 26 duckpin lanes, according to Rowley.
Glen Burnie Bowl
6322-A Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie
The alley has 30 duckpin lanes, according to an employee.
Mustang Alley’s Bar Bowling and Bistro
1300 Bank St., Second Floor, Baltimore
The alley offers four duckpin lanes and eight tenpin lanes, according to its website.
1723 Reisterstown Rd., Pikesville
The alley offers 20 duckpin lanes and 20 tenpin lanes, according to an employee.
Walkersville Bowling Center
44 W Pennsylvania Ave., Walkersville
The alley offers 10 duckpin lanes, an employee said.
AMF Towson Lanes
701 Southwick Dr., Towson
The alley has 14 duckpin lanes and 34 tenpin lanes, an employee said.
AMF Dundalk Lanes
1101 Merritt Blvd., Baltimore
The alley has 24 duckpin and 24 tenpin lanes, according to the operations manager.
AMF Southwest Lanes
4991 Fairview Ave., Linthicum Heights
The alley has 40 duckpin lanes, according to its website.
Pinland Bowling Lanes
10 N Dundalk Ave., Dundalk
The alley has 18 duckpin lanes.
1625 N. Main St., Hampstead
The alley has 12 duckpin and 12 tenpin lanes, according to an employee.
Thunderhead Bowl & Grill
4337 Old Taneytown Rd., Taneytown
According to its website, the alley has 12 duckpin lanes and 16 tenpin lanes.
Severna Park Lanes
840 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park
The bowling alley offers 16 duckpin and 16 tenpin lanes, according to an employee.
4811 Silver Hill Rd., Suitland
The alley offers 24 duckpin lanes.
Mt. Airy Bowling Lanes
304 Center St., Mt Airy
The alley has 12 duckpin lanes, according to an employee.