Al Rush Sr. leaves local duckpin legacy

August 30, 1991|By Bill Free

Al Rush Sr. needed a little help from a friend to get started on the pro duckpin bowling circuit, but he went on to write one of the most significant chapters in Baltimore's rich duckpin bowling history.

Rush, a steel worker from southeast Baltimore, made the most out of the financial help he received from Bill Burke and soared as high as the No. 5 ranking in the United States (1955-56 season by National Duckpin Bowling Congress) before illness slowed him down in 1976.

When Rush died at the age of 67 on Aug. 10, he left a Baltimore duckpin bowling legacy that rivaled the late Dave Volk's.

In the 1960s and early '70s, Rush and Volk were synonymous with men's duckpin bowling in Baltimore. Rush had a career professional average of 128.00, and Volk averaged 132.08 in his pro career.

Those scores for Rush and Volk came in the days of less sophisticated lanes and equipment, compared to modern-day synthetic lanes that have caused scores to rise.

For instance, Rush was able to average 140 in the middle to late 1980s when he was bowling mostly for fun two nights a week.

Rush began his career at Patterson Lanes in 1941, with Burke providing him entry fees for tournaments. Rush's career was stalled by a stint in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46, but he came back to win the National Duckpin Bowling Congress singles championship in 1953 with a 457 three-game set.

There would be many more major duckpin wins for Rush, including the 31st U.S. Classic in 1961 when he rolled the second highest score (2,116 for 15 games) in the 31-year history of the tournament, and a high game of 217 at Greenway East in November 1988.

It all added up to Rush becoming a charter member of the Baltimore Professional Duckpin Association Hall of Fame.

During the 1967-68 season in the Baltimore Professional Duckpin Association league, Rush averaged 130.79. He bowled 10 seasons in that league and was captain of his team seven years.

To sum up the importance of Rush's career, his daughter, Claudia, said: "I never had any idea what kind of bowler my father was until I decided to do a scrapbook on him for a high school project. I then realized what he had accomplished. And I got a good grade on it."

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