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How Schenectady’s Joseph Gentiluomo Changed Bowling Forever

Gentiluomo's bowling ball design modifications hinge on its density.

Joseph Gentiluomo (fourth from left) at the reopening ceremony for Clifton Park's Spare Time last summer.

The next time you’re at the Saratoga Strike Zone, keep an eye on your ball as it’s heading for the pins. You’ll notice that it actually slides more than it rolls as it makes its way down the slippery, oiled lane. It does that because most of the weight is located in the center of the ball, giving it greater total kinetic energy to eventually knock down those pins. 

But it wasn’t always like that.

Schenectady resident Joseph Gentiluomo, a World War II veteran who graduated from RPI and went on to work at General Electric, is the owner of 28 patents, including two modifications to the bowling ball. “I was inventing things in all kinds of sports,” Gentiluomo told bowlersmart.com in 2020. “I created a golf ball with less hooking and slicing. It had to do with the density of the ball. I figured I’d do the same thing with a bowling ball.”

Today, Gentiluomo is considered the inventor of the modern bowling ball. Last summer, the 98-year-old even got to bowl the first ball at a grand reopening ceremony for Clifton
Park’s Spare Time, which had been closed due to COVID. His first roll landed in the gutter, but his second connected with the pins, knocking down eight of them. His secret? Density.  

Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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