National championships history
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
Did you know the USBC Open Championships and USBC Women's Championships have more than 200 years of history in the books?
USBC members travel to these national tournaments each year to not only to take their shot at bowling on the sport's biggest stage, but also to be a part of the storied traditions. A look at the history behind some of the staples of the Open and Women's Championships:
Joe Bowler kicks off tournament
Dean Larsen earned the distinction of being named the first Joe Bowler when the Open Championships rolled into his hometown of St. Paul, Minn., in 1951. (The Joe Bowler receiving his crown in the photo is from the 1956 tournament).
Joe Bowler is selected on the tournament's opening squad each year to roll the ceremonial first ball and mark the official start of the event. Joe Bowler receives the royal treatment, donning a crown and cape, while sitting upon a throne to prepare for the opening delivery.
The march down Center Aisle
Many bowlers look forward to marching down Center Aisle at the Open Championships each year, a tradition that began at the 1954 event in Seattle.
Women's Championships competitors got their first experience of Center Aisle at the 1997 tournament at the famed National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.
The Women's Championships was held in traditional bowling centers outside of the NBS until the 2010 tournament in El Paso, Texas.
Automatic Pinsetters debut
Automatic pinsetters made their debut at both the Open and Women's Championships in 1957. Prior to those events, pins had to be set up and cleared out manually.
At the 1972 Women's Championships in Kansas City, Mo., automatic scoring was featured for the first time at the host center, King Louis East Lanes, for doubles and singles competition. In 1979, flip-dot scoreboards made their debut at the Open Championships in Tampa, Fla., to accompany the new automatic scoring system, which replaced the boardmen and bookmen who manually tracked scores.
In 2009, USBC unveiled the world's largest mobile LED scoreboards at the Open Championships in Las Vegas, featuring enhanced graphics with 4.4 trillion colors and streaming video capabilities. These scoreboards will be used at this year's Women's Championships.
National Bowling Stadium
The National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., opened its doors in 1995 for the Open Championships and saw a record 17,285 teams experience the "Taj Mahal of Tenpins" for the first time. The 78-lane center, which you might have seen in the movie Kingpin, will have hosted the Open or Women's Championships a combined 15 times when the 2014 Open Championships kicks off Feb. 28.
Upgrades to the NBS in recent years include the addition of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame satellite museum, Showcase Lanes and revamped squad room.