Torrington's Paul Grohs in the National Duckpin Hall of Fame....Story by John Torsiello.
When he was a teenager, Torrington’s Paul Grohs used to take his lumps going against the best bowlers in the house at the late and lamented Torrington Bowling Center, a duckpin lane located on Migeon Avenue.
“There were some great bowlers, guys like Miles Concannon, Dave Tino, Tommy Tedesco and my brother, Jimmy Grohs, who would bowl for money after the leagues,” said Paul Grohs, as he sat at a table at the Donut Station on Winsted Road, where he has been an employee for 16 years. “I would get beat but I became a better bowler because of the competition I was going against as a young guy. After awhile I started holding my own.”
The now 46-year-old Grohs has been holding his own and more since those formative days. He recently earned a spot in the national Duckpin Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame after winning his fourth DPBA event in Rhode Island.
After qualifying for the round of 24 individual matches out of field of 120 bowlers at Town Hall Bowling Lanes in Johnston, R.I., he squared off against Rhode Island bowler Peter Pierce, himself a Hall of Famer, in the championship match. The two men were neck and neck the entire game with Pierce throwing a strike and seven fill in the 10th frame of finish with a 130. With the pressure on, Grohs stepped up and rolled a double strike with a four fill to finish at 134 and take home the winner’s check of $2,200.
“People were saying to me to make it interesting when I got up in the 10th frame, said Grohs, “they wanted me to roll a strike but I would up doing better than that and rolling a double.”
Grohs, who earlier in his career earned entry into the Bowlers Association of Connecticut Hall of Fame based on his results in state events, has been bowling on the national pro tour for about 13 years. His first three wins came at tournaments in Rhode Island, Cheshire, Ct. and at a major event in Hagerstown, Md. on Memorial Day weekend in 2009. The latter victory netted him $10,000 and was the highlight of his pro days.
“I was seeded third on the ladder based on the total pinfall of the qualifying games in Maryland and I went on to win all five of my individual matches, beating Mark Callahan, a bowler from Pennsylvania, 180-112, in the final match.” He added, “My first pro win was special because my father, James Grohs, was with me and he passed away a few months later from cancer.”
Grohs comes from a bowling family. His brother, Jimmy, managed the Torrington Bowling Center and as a kid Paul would go there to hang out, work and get some bowling in.
“My parents both bowled in leagues and I was always around the alleys because my older brother worked there. I would sweep the floors and do other things and then bowl when I was done. I bowled around a lot, at the Arcade Lanes in Torrington and Laurel Lanes in Winsted. I’ve bowled at the Elks Club lanes in Torrington quite a bit because I’m a member there. They are very difficult lanes and you learn to adjust and become a better bowler because of it.” He now bowls in weekly leagues at Perillo’s Bowl-O-Drome in Waterbury and Highland Bowl in Cheshire.
His other brothers, John and Tommy, are also accomplished duckpin bowlers. He recalled squaring off once against Tommy in a pro tournament.
“Tommy was 3-1 coming into the match and I was 0-4. I wound up beating him and people said they were glad I didn’t lay down for my brother. But I would never do that. I wanted to win the match as much as he did and we were both bowling for money so why would I lay down.”
The Duckpin Professional Bowlers Association conducts tournaments in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Canada. You have to have an average of 130 to join, although a member can “adopt” a bowler and introduce him to the tour at an event to determine if he is capable of handling the competition. Generally, it costs between $100 and $200 to enter a pro event.
“There are a lot of really good bowlers at these events and it is run very well. We’ve got on guy who is in is 80’s who is still competing at a high level. I love it. I enjoy the competition and I feel like I’m in my prime right now.” Grohs, who once rolled five consecutive strikes in a game, bowls in about four pro tour events a year.
Grohs calls himself a controlled thrower of the ball and a solid spare maker.
“Some guys fire the ball down the alley but I back off a bit to get more action form the pins.”
His next pro tour event will be in Hamden, Ct. in October and he’s looking to add to his resume for the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a real honor,” said Grohs of his entering the NDBA Hall of Fame. He will be feted at a banquet later this year.