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Ralph “Red” Nelson bowled in as many as seven leagues after arriving in this area in the mid-1960s. He competed in many of the premier leagues, including the Virginia Masters in various centers in Northern Virginia—where his “underdog” foursome surprised everyone one season by capturing top honors—and the Southern Maryland Men’s Commercial at St. Charles Bowl in Waldorf. In addition, Red always was a threat to cash in the legendary Friday night pot games at Bowl America Silver Hill and other side action events.
Red maintained an average in the 180s and 190s in the 1960s and ‘70s, with a high average of 193 in the 1976-1977 season. Those who competed during that period and are aware there were years when the area’s top-ranked bowler didn’t even average 200 know that these averages were indeed formidable and among the highest in the association.
Even though Red’s bowling achievements certainly warrant recognition, his service to the area bowling community is his ticket to area bowling’s highest honor. Red at first worked for several local pro shops, including Zost’s Pro Shop on Pennsylvania Avenue in the District, followed by a stint at Fuller’s Pro Shop in Silver Hill, Maryland.
As a result of his pro shop experience as well as his reputation as one of the area’s top bowlers, entrepreneur Austin “Butch” Luther Jr. asked Red in 1974 if he would be willing to lend his name and join him in a new venture entitled Red Nelson’s Bowlers World in Camp Springs, Maryland. It wasn’t unusual to see bowlers in several centers wearing shirts promoting the new business, for Red sponsored numerous adult and youth teams in area leagues for many years.
While Red in recent years has mainly focused his attention serving bowlers through his accompanying Trophy World operation, his pro shop continues to serve the bowling public today. In each business transaction, he has always strived to give customers the best service possible at reasonable prices.
Ralph “Red” Nelson has devoted most of his adult life servicing the bowlers in the Nation’s Capital Area. A special spot has been reserved for him in the Nation’s Capital Area USBC Association Hall of Fame.