In today’s Black History Month article, we will be looking at the man that started it all. A true pioneer of African-American ten pin bowling. He’s a USBC Hall of Famer and one of the very best African-American bowlers of his generation. Today, we’ll be talking about Bill Rhodman.
Rhodman grew up bowling in the city of Detroit. Unfortunately, for the early part of his prime, Rhodman was unable to be an ABC member, because, at the time, one of the requirements was that you be white.
In 1950-51 the ABC removed that distinction.
Shortly after, Rhodman, along with other African-American standouts of the time, became the first all black team to compete at the ABC National Tournament (today it is referred to as the USBC Open Championships).
While Rhodman was, by those who knew him and followed his career, an outstanding bowler, his true accomplishments came off the lanes, as a pioneer and an ambassador.
Our sport has had many great ambassadors and pioneers. The names of Weber, Salvino, Carter, and Johnson all come to mind. But not often enough is Bill Rhodman mentioned in that same category. Rhodman was, in many ways, our sport’s own Jackie Robinson.
Rhodman spearheaded the African-American bowling movement. He is credited as one of the driving forces behind getting the ABC to allow African-American members. He opened doors that had yet been opened by African American bowlers, and he paved new avenues for later generations.
In addition to spearheading and pioneering the ABC movement, Rhodman also helped African Americans grow and widen a new platform, one that accepted them for who they are and what they did, one that was their own, in the TNBA. Rhodman was the first competitor to ever bowl a 300 in a TNBA event.
Rhodman was a bowler, an instructor, a passionate pioneer, an ambassador, and a legend. And we couldn’t have a Black History Month celebration without acknowledging all that Mr. Rhodman did to shape the state of modern day bowling.
Below is a quick video that Hammer Bowling did honoring Bill Rhodman: