The St Paul Bowling Association achieved a milestone at
the start of the 2006-2007 bowling season.
It became the third city association in the Gopher State to boast a men's league with 100 years of competition. The St. Paul Retail, which competes on Tuesday night (6:30) at Midway Pro Bowl, began it's 100th season on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
The Winona association has the oldest league in the state with the Winona Men's City League in it's 106th year. Bob Kosidowski, a member of the Men's State board for some 30 years and a member of the Men's State Hall of Fame, is the Winona association secretary.
Second oldest league in the state is the Men's Major league in Duluth. Mike Tezak is secretary of the loop which competes at Incline Station. The league is in it's 103rd consecutive season.
Les Lange, a member of the St. Paul Bowling Hall of Fame, was secretary of the Retail league for some 40 years prior to 1980. The league competed at the Stahl House for some 50+ years.
Now the league, which expanded from eight to ten teams 10 years ago, has Rich Tuckner as it's secretary. He has held that post for 21 years. The league has been at Midway Pro Bowl for the past ten years.
There are 11 leagues in the US that have been sanctioned for 100 years or more. Setting the pace is the Drug Trade league of Baltimore, Md., which is in it's 110th season. The Metropolitan Traveling league in Pittsburgh, Pa. is competing in it's 109th season.
Two leagues, including one in Wisconsin, are competing in their 107th season, thus leaving Winona in fifth place. Those two leagues are the Tri-City Classic out of Quad-Cities, Ill. and the LaCrosse City league out of LaCrosse, Wisc.
Next in line locally to the Retail League is the Builders Exchange loop which competes on Monday night (6:30 pm) at Midway Pro Bowl. It is in it's 92nd season with 14 teams, down two from last season. It became ABC sactioned in 1914.
Following the Builders Exchange loop are three leagues in their 80th plus years. The Harkins Straightaway league is in it's 84th season. It has eight teams and competes every Tuesday night (7pm) at Minnehaha Lanes. It was at Harkins Recreation in the Hamm Building for many years before moving to Harkins Palace. After the fire in April 1968, it has moved to numerous places. The oldest member of the league with 49 years of competition is former ABC President (1998) Jerry Tessman.
Next comes the Prarie League, which originated at Harkins Rec in 1923 and is in it's 83rd season. The league, which has seven teams, down one from the original eight, competes at 12:30 pm Thursday at Westside Lanes in West St. Paul.
Completing the list of leagues with 80 years or over is the Downtown Mercantile league. Now in it's 82nd season, it competes at 7:15pm Friday night at Maplewood Bowl. The league is downto seven teams after 80 years with eight teams. Craig Goettsche is league secretary.
Not to be outdone by the men's leagues with longivity, the St. Paul women have a league that is third oldest in the nation.
The Ladies City League originated as the Capital City League in 1924-25 at Harkins Rec in the Hqamm Building. It had four teams and competed for 27 weeks. In 1928 it changed to the Ladies City loop and added four teams. It now competes at 7pm Monday night at Saxon Lanes in Little Canada.
The oldest women's leagues in the nation are, Ladies Greater Omaha in Omaha, Neb., now in it's 82nd season and Rock Island Ladies in Rock Island Ill., competing in it's 81st season.
The second oldest women's league in St. paul is the Junior City league which competes at Maplewood Bowl. It began in 1930 and is in it's 76th season. The St. Paul Women's All Star wheel is third oldest, having started in 1944 and is in it's 62nd season.
The All Star competed at Fleishman's and Muggley's, Larry's Rec and Stransky's and now competes with eight teams at Maplewood Bowl.