John McGraw

Duckpins: When baseball greats Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw drew up a perfect game

Duckpins: When baseball greats Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw drew up a perfect game

Duckpin bowling began in the back room of a smoke-filled 19th century saloon on Howard Street owned by two Orioles bound for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw ran the place, dubbed “The Diamond,” bought with their earnings from the three National League championships Baltimore won from 1894 to 1896. Gentlemen flocked there to drink beer, smoke cigars, play billiards and feast on crab cakes, boiled eggs and pickled onions beneath photographs of boxing greats and ballplayers on the walls.

In 1898, the owners added bowling — four tenpin lanes that drew crowds in winter but not during the city’s stifling summers. The balls were heavy; the alleys, hot....

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