By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
Marlborough – Five decades of competitive successes has led Det Klein of Marlborough to become an inductee into the International Candlepin Bowling Association Hall of Fame. The achievement was recognized this past October during an awards banquet at DiBurro’s Function Facility in Haverhill.
His interest in bowling started as a child growing up in Maynard. He and his friends would collect and cash-in bottles to cover costs at the now-closed Tutto’s Bowling Lanes.
“I liked the challenge of knocking down 10 targets at 60 feet,” he recalled. “I thought it was a lot like baseball in the sense that you had to be able to throw the ball in a direct area. Obviously, the better your skill got, the better you would score.”
The interest further developed as a teenager when Klein and his buddies bowled during high school vacations. As a young adult, he welcomed mentoring from some of the area’s more-experienced bowlers and his skill progressed.
“At that time we had the attraction of a lot of television bowling shows,” he noted. “My passion for bowling grew because I knew I could get on TV and make some extra money.”
In addition to multiple tournament wins, Klein made over 70 appearances on television bowling shows. His first was in the 1970s on “Bay State Bowling,” which aired on Worcester’s WSMW-TV channel 27. Subsequent appearances included WCVB-TV channel 5’s “Candlepin Bowling,” “Candlepin Doubles” and “Candlepin Superbowl,” as well as Comcast CN8’s “Candlepin Challenge.” He sharpened his bowling skills in front of cameras, live audiences and television viewers.
“Most of my appearances were on WCVB’s ‘Candlepin Bowling,’ which gave the most money,” he said. “The first couple times I was kind of rattled, hoping to keep the ball out of the gutter. It was very intense with all the bright lights. As a professional, you learn to keep your focus on the pins, not on the lights. I had a job to do and learned how to do it.”
While competing on WCVB-TV’s mixed-doubles format of “Candlepin Superbowl” in 1976, Klein and his bowling partner won four consecutive weeks. The accomplishment won him a prize that he considers more valuable than cash. His wife Nancy agrees.
“The ultimate prize was a seven-day cruise to Bermuda – a great package with all of the meals included,” he explained. “They gave the cruise because the competition was such a high level that it was hard to maintain winning for four weeks. I won the trip in ’76 and had to use it within a year. I was getting married in ’77, so it was a great opportunity for us to go to Bermuda for our honeymoon.”
Also in 1977, Klein was one of seven members of the winning team in the World Invitational Championship held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Additionally, he achieved the highest average in his division throughout the tournament at 134. America and Canada each had 12 teams in the weeklong competition.
“There were about 160 of the best candlepin bowlers between the two countries,” Klein said. “It’s quite an all-week grind. You show up every day at 9 a.m. and get done bowling around 6:30 p.m.”
His personal highs are 205, single; 500, three strings; 767, five strings; and 1 433, 10 strings. He’s currently bowling with a competitive league in Bradford.
“I never gave thought about getting into the Hall of Fame,” Klein acknowledged. “Bowling for me has always been about setting personal goals and records for myself. Even at my age, I’m still going and competing with the 20-somethings. They’ll probably need to drag me off the lanes.”