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D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: Bowling With Verne Lundquist

A short little ditty about a 1970s game show that aired on WFAA Channel 8.
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Tadd Myers

It won’t take long to read Bill Porterfield’s 1976 story about a Carrollton postman who briefly becomes a celebrity at a Grand Prairie bowling alley. Larry Bowman is our protagonist, a working man who spends two nights a week out with his buddies. One of those nights is low-stakes gambling. “The big night” is spent bowling in the citywide post office league. Those repetitions down the lane came in handy once Channel 8 launched a syndicated competition show called Bowling for Dollars.

The match-up was simple, and bizarre for the time. Each contestant was paired with a pen pal who watched from home but shared in whatever winnings the bowler takes home. Each bowler got two chances at hitting back-to-back strikes. The jackpot grew with every failure. Well before he was named to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association’s Hall of Fame, Verne Lundquist was WFAA’s sports director —and the host of this nascent gameshow, which aired on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

You see where this is going. Bowman hits a pair of strikes and wins $2,540, which, today, would be a little over $14,000. That’s $3,000 more than 10 years ago, when we first highlighted this story. But this awesome little story, which ran on the back page of our March 1976 issue, is about the journey, when local TV tried fun little things, and small victories meant big rewards. It’s one of our 50 greatest stories that we are highlighting this year for our 50th anniversary, and you can read it here. 

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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