Bowler Kenny Barber: "I don’t pick up
a ball for less than a grand a game."
Mr. Barber and others were "action bowlers", guys who gambled against each other for huge amounts of money in the bowling alleys of 1960s New York. Of course, there were side bets, and con men who tried to gain unfair advantage:
Like Tony Side Weight, Goldfinger earned a reputation for lodging lead in his bowling ball to give it more "side weight." According to the crooks whose livelihoods depended on the extent of their mastery over various measures of deception, extra side weight turned the ball so sharply toward the headpin that it obliterated the pocket with an authority no ordinary ball could muster.
Steve Harris, a former pro shop owner from Neshanic Station, N.J., said he would drill a hole in a ball, pour mercury into it, then plug the hole with a liquid that hardened overnight.
"As the ball rolled, the mercury would shift in the ball and it would go sideways and kill the pins," Harris, 71, said. "I would also get lead sinkers from the fishing store and do that. But you could not control them. You just played with them."
Somebody forgot to tell that to Goldfinger, who won four consecutive matches with his loaded ball before the gangsters got a clue.
"He’s throwin’ a loaded ball," one of the gangsters growled behind Goldfinger’s lane as he pulled a five-foot cigar out of his face…
Read the rest: When Thugs and Hustlers Ruled Dark Alleys, The New York Times>>