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Bobby Hall Sr. started bowling in the mid-1960s when he joined a league at Rinaldi’s Riggs Plaza to be with a friend with whom he had long been competitive who himself had joined for the purpose of meeting a girl. A year later, Bobby captured a tournament sponsored by radio station WOOK, and the trophy he won that day truly sparked his interest in the sport, even while recognizing he had a lot to learn. I can do this, he constantly reminded himself.
A few years later, the prestigious MWBPA Invitational Singles, sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Bowling Proprietors’ Association and featuring the area’s best bowlers, had a qualifying round at Riggs Plaza. An African-American by the name of Earl Hickerson (a future Hall of Famer) caught Bobby’s eye, as did another left-hander, Joel Decker. Impressed and inspired by the bowling he was watching, Bobby walked over to friend Bobby Holmes and vowed to win this event one day.
In the meantime, Bobby continued to work on his game and started bowling in some of the area’s more competitive leagues, including the Virginia Masters, where his teams often finished high in the standings and where he topped the field one season with his 744 series.
In the early 1970s, Bobby joined the Professional Bowlers Association and traveled the tour sporadically while maintaining his position as a government corrections officer. He learned about a variety of lane conditions and other aspects of the game, roomed with future PBA Hall of Famer Barry Asher, picked up a few prize checks, and even qualified for match play. It was overall, he said upon reflection, a “very nice experience.”
Returning home in 1974, Bobby used some of that experience to fulfill his promise and take home the champion’s trophy that summer in the MWBPA Invitational Singles. He proved that victory was no fluke four years later when he returned to the winner’s circle. It is believed he and two other Hall of Famers, Jim Robinette and Larry O’Neill, are the only individuals who won more than one Invitational title.
Bobby continued to compete in top area leagues and occasional PBA events, mainly those of the regional variety. He also spent significant time helping to develop the bowling game of his son, Bobby II.
His last major spotlight event occurred at the 2007 PBA Senior (Bowl America) Manassas Open when he qualified for the Round of 16 and created a buzz among the spectators during a most exciting opening match before falling in four games to the eventual champion, PBA Hall of Famer David Ozio.
Bobby Hall Sr. demonstrated on the lanes that he is one of the best bowlers this area has ever seen. He is an outstanding addition to the NCAUSBCA Hall of Fame.