- Associated Press - Saturday, December 27, 2014

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) - It could be the “end of an era,” or a “fresh start.” We may soon find out as the Diamond Bowling Alley on Virginia Avenue, the last duckpin bowling facility operating in the Cumberland area, goes up for sale.

In bygone years, Cumberland had multiple thriving duckpin operations, including the Capital Lanes on Virginia Avenue (where CVS is now), The Savoy on Baltimore Street and the Club Bowling Alley on Mechanic Street, as well as others. Diamond is the only alley left operating today.

“We’re the last one,” said Dick Knipple, who has owned the Diamond Bowling Alley with his brother in-law, Roy Rhodes, for the last 18 years.

Bowling a version known as rubberband duckpin, the Diamond currently has six leagues bowling five nights a week. Still using pins boys, the sale of the Diamond could spell the end for duckpin locally if the owner decides to use the facility for other purposes.

The days of the boys rushing to clear the toppled pins and sending the balls rolling back up the rails to the bowler may become a thing of the past. However, if Knipple gets his wish, the facility will remain a duckpin destination under a new owner.

“I?hope they keep it as a bowling alley. I’d like to see that,” said Knipple.

Built in 1915, the bowling alley has been a destination for local bowlers for nearly 100 years.

Placed on the real estate market recently, the two-story facility, which has six lanes on each floor, is located at 224 Virginia Ave. It also has a parking lot and a Class D Beer & Wine license available.

Scored the same as traditional 10-pin bowling, the main difference in duckpin is the smaller balls, which are about half the size and weight of a traditional bowling ball.

Joe Brewer, the Century 21 agent who is selling the alley for Knipple and Rhodes, has been bowling at the Diamond since the 1960s.

“There are a lot of people who have bowled here for years. They enjoy the unique comradery,” said Brewer.

Brewer said a large contingent from the Lonaconing area also bowls at Diamond since the loss of a popular duckpin facility in Lonaconing occurred during a flood in 1996.

Knipple said many families and their relatives have bowled there for decades.

The history of the Diamond is extensive. Knipple and Brewer said Lenny Kline owned it before Knipple and Dick Swick prior to that. A gentlemen named Al Campbell owned the facility prior to Swick in the early part of the 20th century, according to Brewer.

Knipple, 68, said he began his life-long passion of bowling as a pin boy for Capital Lanes and other alleys in the area.

“I set pins as a kid. It was popular. At one time, we had 36 bowlers in one league,” said Knipple.

Leagues currently bowling at Diamond include the City Service League, K of C Mixed League, Christopher Photo Lab, Gem?League, Tuesday Night League and Miller High Life.

Knipple said only seven or eight people in the area have ever bowled a perfect score of 300 since he started bowling. He said Tommy McGeady, who carried a 199 national average, Cec Grimes, Gene Wilt and Lou?Bell were among those who achieved the goal.

While it’s up for sale, Knipple hopes to keep the alley going strong. Leagues are always looking for bowlers. He said anyone can call the alley after 6 p.m. at 301-777-1340 if interested in bowling.

“People ask me if it will still be a bowling alley after it’s sold,” said Knipple, “I don’t know because you don’t know what someone might do.”

Knipple doesn’t want to retire his bowling shoes.

“If someone keeps it as a bowling alley I’ll keep coming. I don’t want to quit bowling. I?enjoy it too much,” said Knipple.


Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News, https://www.times-news.com/timesnew.html

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