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Chicago-Based Bowlers Journal Celebrating 100th Anniversary Issue

By Paul Biasco | October 10, 2013 6:27am
 Mike Panozzo (l.) and Keith Hamilton.
Mike Panozzo (l.) and Keith Hamilton.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

DOWNTOWN — The longest continuously publishing monthly sports magazine is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary by pumping out a 300-page edition from its Chicago headquarters.

Bowlers Journal's roots in Chicago run all the way back to 1913 when its first issue was published.

The industry and the sport have changed over those 100 years, but the magazine has remained a source for all things bowling.

"I'll come to work and ever so often I'll daydream to what it was like 100 years ago right here," said Keith Hamilton, president of Luby Publishing, the publisher behind Bowlers Journal

The 100th issue has been in the works for more than nine months.

With it, Hamilton and the rest of his staff hope to pay tribute to the Luby family, who founded the company in Chicago.

 The first edition of Bowlers Journal was printed on Nov. 8, 1913.
The first edition of Bowlers Journal was printed on Nov. 8, 1913.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

"The idea to be lucky enough and yet played a role in getting to 100 at the oldest sports monthly in America, it's quite a special time," Hamilton said.

Chicago-based Brunswick Bowling has stood by Bowlers Journal all the way through, and has bought the back cover of every single edition since launch.

"In the old days, our offices were located a couple blocks from each other downtown," said Brent Perrier, president of Brunswick Bowling. "Bowlers Journal is a special magazine to us. It really is the voice of the industry.

"I really see similarities between Brunswick Bowling and Bowlers Journal," he said. "It's an extremely tight industry. We all know each other. We all like each other."

The bowling niche has been good to the journal, as the company still manages a circulation of about 20,000 hard copies in the midst of the digital age.

Hamilton and his business partner don't see the death of the printed magazine and a switch to a digital-only publication anywhere in the near future.

"Sporting News did that. Time did that. It saddens me, but I get it," Hamilton said. "We are lucky in that we aren't after the broad-based consumer."

The magazine was created in 1913 by David Luby, a shoe salesman at the time, and was passed down to his son and later his grandson before Hamilton purchased the company in 1994.

"Dave Luby was a great bowler," Perrier said.

Hamilton, the current president and owner, has a solid 172 average.

"It's frustrating because I have access to the finest players in the world," Hamilton said.

All three Lubys who took turns running the company are members of the U.S. Bowling Congress Hall of Fame, and Hamilton is currently vice-chairman of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame board of trustees.

The momentum in the industry leading up the the 100th anniversary issues is not to be downplayed, according to Mike Panozzo, who purchased Bowlers Journal and Billiards Digest along with Hamilton in 1994.

"It's not just patting us on the back. It's kind of patting the industry on the back," Panozzo said. "They still knock down 10 pins. The lanes are still the same. The balls are still round."