Tag Archive | Sports

Object: Bowling Ball


Bowling Ball
Bexar County
Materials: Wood

This object is a wooden bowling ball originally used in 1889 by the Bexar Bowlers of the Bexar Bowling Society. Bowling is one of the most popular sports in the world and the history of bowling is believed to go back to 3200 BCE. This early date was based on a find by British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie. He found some objects in a child’s grave that looked like they could be used as for bowling. Others, like the German historian William Pehle, believe bowling originated in Germany around 300 AD. Bowling was also popular in England during the reign of King Edward, so popular that it was outlawed because soldiers were neglecting archery practice in order to spend more time bowling. Bowling was brought back by King Henry VII and has remained popular ever since.

At this time there were different variations of games with pins being played. These games were eventually brought to America. Bowling was first mentioned in America in the book Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving. In his book, Rip hears the sound of “crashing ninepins.” The sport of bowling had many ups and downs when it reached America. In 1841 Connecticut law made it illegal to have ninepin lanes. Making bowling illegal was in large part because the game attracted gambling and drinking. Nine pin bowling was the most popular form of bowling in the United States and Texas was no exception.

Gymnastics room in Turner Hall, Milwaukee, ca. 1900 via Wikipedia

Gymnastics room in Turner Hall, Milwaukee, ca. 1900 via Wikipedia

In Texas, 9 pin bowling was popularized by the turnverein movement. This movement was brought over by the forty-eighters, political refugees from Germany. People associated with the turnverein movements were strong supporters of gymnastics and athletic clubs, but they were also involved with a variety of different causes. Turnvereins didn’t appear in Texas until 1851 and they were located in places like Houston, New Braunfels, Galveston, San Antonio, and Comfort. In Houston “Turners,” as they were called were involved with the needy and sick. The Turners also established schools and entertained the public. Turners in Fredericksburg were responsible for organizing volunteer fire departments. Even though new Turner clubs were established, gymnastics was never that popular in Texas, and as founding Turners grew older the gynastic equipment was typically replaced with bowling lanes. As the Turners began to disband and merge with other clubs, 9 pin bowling gained momentum.

Today 9 pin has all but disappeared, except in some Texas towns where 9 pin bowling is still incredibly popular. Different from the conventional bowling most people are used to, 9 pin bowling involves bowlers rolling a wooden bowling ball at pins that are set up in a diamond formation. In the center of the seven pins is one pin called the number 5 pin or “kingpin.” Bowlers must knock down the 8 pins surrounding the one in the center. As the team knocks down the pins points are accumulated. If you are curious about this game you can visit a 9 pin bowling club in one of the small Texas towns where this game is still popular. [Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources: 

LeCompte, Mary Lou. “The Texas Turnvereins”. Austin [Tex.]: [publisher not identified], 1985.

Wittke, Carl Frederick. Refugees of Revolution; The German Forty-Eighters in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1952.

Woellert, Dann. Cincinnati Turner Societies: The Cradle of an American Movement. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.

Lecture this weekend at ITC

Kerrvillec1949Don’t miss the Voices from the Invisible Diamonds lecture this Saturday! Former members of Negro League baseball teams in Texas will be sharing their stories. Joining the players are Damian Thomas, sports curator of the Smithsonian African American Cultural and History Museum in Washington, D.C.; and Layton Revel, founder and director of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research in Carollton, Texas, who also played a role in opening the Negro League Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.

Find out more HERE!

Object: Shoe

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Nike, Inc.
Made in China
Materials: Leather, Thread

The most popular sport in the United States is American football, with professional football and college football the most popular forms of the game. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. However, the game played back then looked completely different from what fans today are used to. The first game consisted of 25 players with a round ball and could only kick the ball, not touch it with their hands. Rutgers won the game  with a score of 6-4.  The sport is thought to have evolved from rugby and soccer, blending and modifying the rules of both. This object is a pair of football cleat shoes belonging to Dat Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American to be drafted into the NFL and be recognized as an All-Pro.

Early football game between Harvard and McGill.

Early football game between Harvard and McGill.

Dat Nguyen was born in Arkansas in a refugee center. His family had fled South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. His family then moved to the small fishing town of Rockport-Fulton on the Texas gulf coast. While in High School Nguyen played football as a middle linebacker. He earned honors as a punter and was recruited by Michigan, UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas and Florida. However, Nguyen decided to stay close to his home town and attended Texas A&M University. Nguyen played on the Aggie football team from 1995-1998. Throughout his football career he was always thought to be too small to play the position of linebacker. However, he proved his critics wrong and excelled. He received multiple awards including the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award. Nguyen is known as one of the greatest defensive players in the Texas A&M history and was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Dat Nguyen #59 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates during a game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Dat Nguyen #59 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates during a game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In 1999 after a successful college career Nguyen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round. The Dallas Cowboys are one of two NFL teams in Texas, and is regarded as the most valuable team in the world, worth 4 billion dollars. The Dallas Cowboys got their start in the 1960s. Over the years the team’s name has changed from the Dallas Steers to the Dallas Rangers and eventually the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had a rough start their first season but eventually improved and got their first taste of success in 1965. The Cowboys continued to improve and made several Super Bowl appearances. While with the Cowboys, Nguyen excelled and became a starting middle linebacker. However, while with the Cowboys Nguyen sustained several different injuries and played on and off. He eventually retired in 2006 leading the team in tackles in the years 2001, 2003, and 2004.

Following his career as an NFL player Nguyen became an assistant coach for the Cowboys and remained there until 2010. Nguyen then went back to his alma mater and became an inside linebacker coach. Nguyen left A&M in 2011 after a successful season. Today Dat Nguyen can be found as a co-host of The Blitz with Jason Minnix. To keep up with Nguyen he can be found on twitter @dat959. [Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources:

Nguyen, Dat, and Rusty Burson. Dat Tackling Life and the NFL. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2005.

Professional Football Researchers Association

Watterson, John Sayle. College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Weyand, Alexander M., and Parke H. Davis. American Football, Its History and Development. New York: D. Appleton, 1926.

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