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Uni Watch Field Trip: Van Nest Lanes in the Bronx

For all photos, click to enlarge

For many years I’ve thought that there are no bowling alleys left in NYC with manual, non-electronic scoring, which is why I’ve been doing most of my bowling in New Jersey over the past decade-plus. But last month The New York Times did a story about Van Nest Lanes, an old-school pin-bashing facility with 16 lanes (an endearingly non-round number), vintage 1960 fixtures, and manual scoring. On Saturday I went up there to check it out, accompanied by the Tugboat Captain and our friend Matt.

It did not disappoint. The lanes were a feast for the eyes, with gorgeous avocado green masking panels, magnificent ball returns, and multi-colored stripes painted on the left and right walls:

Even the scorers’ tables had that old-school space age vibe from the 1960s:

I don’t like “cosmic bowling” (i.e., bowling with black light and fluorescent pins), but it’s hard not to like this sign:

That same pin/letter motif was used for the sign on the door to the men’s room (but not for the women’s room, alas):

Prices were very fair: $25/hour for the lane, $3.50 for a bottle of Bud, no charge for shoes (I already have my own but it’s still nice that they don’t treat footwear as a profit center). The old guy who runs the place is a little cranky, but in a fun way. I was a very happy camper:

And yes — scoring with nothing more than a sheet of paper and a pencil! Halle-freakin’-lujah.

Can’t believe I didn’t already know about this place. For someone who had pretty much given up on NYC bowling, Van Nest Lanes rewrites the book. I will definitely be back.

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NBA All-Star wrap-up: The biggest uni-related item from last night’s NBA All-Star Game was that Anthony Davis began the game wearing the jersey of his injured Pelicans teammate Boogie Cousins, who had to miss the game due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Davis eventually switched to his own jersey.

Three other notes from the game:

• The nets included little All-Star Game logos:

• The baseline design looked like a box of aluminum foil:

• I don’t usually care so much about what fans wear, but this is pretty good:

As for the rest of the game, the numbers were pretty much illegible, and the black/white color pairing was pretty stark, but we already knew both of those things would be the case. Here’s some video:

(My thanks to Chris Perrenot and Austin Earl for their contributions to this section.)

• • • • •

NBA Uni Tracking
By Collin Wright

Color-vs.-color matchups occurred in a season-high 42% of all games last week (including six games on Wednesday, the season high for a single day). Here’s our latest chart (click to enlarge):

A few additional notes:

• White vs. blue remains the most common uniform matchup, occurring in 288 (33%) games.

• The Nuggets are the team most likely to sport the unitard look — they’ve matched their uniforms, leggings, and socks in every game all season. At the other end of the spectrum, the Pelicans have had some form of contrast in 65% of their games, including every game since Dec. 4th.

• All 30 teams have four basic uniform designs this season, plus eight of those teams also have throwback designs, making a total of 128 uniforms in the league. All of those uniforms have now appeared on court except the Clippers’ sky blue fourth design, which I believe they’re scheduled to wear six times over the remainder of the season.

• Since the fourth designs have been debuted, the Heat and Nets have been most likely to wear them, doing so eight and seven times, respectively.

• • • • •

Contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, our latest ESPN design contest is to redesign the Jaguars. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: New cream uniforms for Arkansas (from Matt Snyder). … New away jersey for VCU. … There were color-on-color matchups between Ole Miss and Winthrop (from Alex and Seth Austin), and Valparaiso and Alabama (from Griffin Smith). … Reader Paul Quirk saw this Brewers bullpen cart-themed shirt.

Football News: A photographer at Super Bowl VIII captured the chinstrap of Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall flying through the air as he defended a pass (from Ray Hund). … Chiefs G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is about to graduate from medical school, says he asked the NFL for permission to put “M.D.” after his NOB (from Ryan Atkinson). If being a potential football-playing doctor wasn’t enough, that article mentions that Duvernay-Tardif is currently at the Olympics as a reporter for Radio-Canada, the CBC’s French unit.

Hockey News: The Regina Pats (WHL) celebrated their 100th anniversary this weekend, and the festivities included an alumni game between Team Saskatchewan, made up of former WHL and Pats players from the province, and Team West, made up of other WHL players (from Wade Heidt). The Pats also wore uniforms yesterday honoring the team’s namesake, the infantry regiment Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (from Nelson Hackewich and Wade again). The unit, founded at the start of World War I, was itself named after the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the daughter of Canada’s Governor-General at the time. The uniform’s numerals are orange in that picture, but they definitely turned out white. … We’re not done with this game yet: The other team, the Moose Jaw Warriors, wore ’90s-era throwbacks, and the Pats retired No. 15 for Jock Callander (also from Wade). … The Canucks’ board advertisements were bilingual for Chinese New Year (also-also from Wade). … @WashedUpGoalie has some pictures for us of a game-worn Chicago Wolves (AHL) jersey. More here. … Paul’s worst nightmare: the Cleveland Monsters (AHL) are doing “The Purple Game” March 24 (from Trevor Wilson Patton). … A fan at the Metropolitan Riveters’ (NWHL) game yesterday was wearing a Pawnee Rangers jersey, with a crest and name based on that of the Boy Scouts-like group run by Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation (from @molemanfilms).

Basketball News: Reader Matt Stringham noticed some similarities between the logo for Utah’s 1993 NBA All-Star Game and the Jazz’s logo beginning in 1996-97. “Specifically, the shape and font of the ‘Utah’ wordmark at the top are very similar on both logos as well as the shape, color, and shading of the stylized mountain ranges,” he says. … Women’s teams wearing pink or pink accents for breast cancer awareness included Virginia and Miami (Fla.), the latter for the second week in a row, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois State, and Western Kentucky, the last one of those from Josh Claywell. … There was a color-on-color game between Wichita State and Cincinnati (from Brian Speiss). … New Hampshire had some small-ish NOBs against Stony Brook (from Alan Kreit). … Illinois State wore throwbacks Saturday (from Adam Anderson). … FC Barcelona’s basketball team was wearing two different number styles in a 1978-79 team photo (from Albert Iosifovitch Rojov).

Soccer News: Scottish team Hibernian, along with opponents Aberdeen, became the fifth of Irish midfielder Liam Miller’s former teams to wear black armbands in his memory. … In a D.C. United/Philadelphia Union preseason game in Tampa, one DCU player from the team’s academy wore NNOB. Interestingly, the player was not identified by name in any report I read. … English Championship team Hull City wore a memorial sleeve patch for the city’s 1968 “triple trawler tragedy” in Friday’s FA Cup tie against Chelsea. It marks the 50th anniversary of three fishing trawlers from the city sinking in unrelated circumstances within a few weeks of one another. … Callum Johnston has more FA Cup sleeve patch shenanigans: some of the lower league teams, who don’t wear sleeve ads in their leagues, wore ads (or something else, in Hull’s case above) on one arm and the FA Cup patch on the other, including Sheffield United and Wigan Athletic. Every team in this weekend’s fifth round wore the patch, but Callum says Coventry City were the only ones to wear it on both sleeves. It’s probably worth mentioning by now that the patch isn’t required until the semi-finals, according to the competition’s rules. … New first-choice kit for League of Ireland Premier Division team Waterford, but look carefully at the checkers: squares that are light on one shirt are dark on the other (from @therealnugget).

Olympics News: Preparing cross-country skis with wax can have such an effect on performance that it’s a minor crisis that most teams, including the U.S. and Norway, couldn’t bring their technicians’ dedicated wax trucks to PyeongChang (from Tom Turner). … Also from Tom: curlers work out now. The lead image in that article is Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud and his pants at last month’s Continental Cup in London, Ont. … You may not know that every Olympic curling stone is made from granite quarried from Ailsa Craig, a tiny island off the coast of Ayrshire in Scotland (from Jason Hillyer).

• • • • •

What Paul did last night yesterday: The Tugboat Captain loves cats but is unable to have pets due to her current housing situation. So one of my presents to her for her recent birthday was a one-hour session with the friends of her choice at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, one of several NYC spots where you can just hang out and be surrounded by cats. We went there yesterday, accompanied by our friends Nicole and Katie.

Here are a few photos I took (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

However you spent your Sunday, hope it was a good one. If you have the day off today, as I do, enjoy the holiday. If you’re working today, thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us take a break. — Paul

Comments (53)

    Made three other Bronx stops during the day, none at Arthur Ave. I’ve been there plenty of times, but there’s more to the Bronx than Arthur Ave.

    BTW, has the cat been let out of the bag that the Tugboat Captain’s first name is Mary, or is that old news?

    …or is it *not* Mary?

    The obligatory “cat has been let out of the bag” comment every time Mary’s name appears in a photo.

    Yeah, about a year ago, I commented about that too… got told that the cat had been let out of the bag quite a while before. Don’t know how I missed it, but I wanted to let Paul know in case Mary preferred her name to be kept secret.

    Yeah, I also thought that 16 was a pretty nice round number, fitting in the 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc. sequence. Maybe because I’m an architect, and I deal with those fractions and scales all day.

    And I thought the comment was odd because the alleys around here that I can think of are all in multiples of 8… 16 lanes, 24, etc.

    The NNOB in the MLS game was probably a “trialist.” These are players who have not signed with the team, but are getting a scrimmage (game) in to see how they will mesh with the team in a game situation.
    As they are not signed, they are not identified in any press materials or with a jersey name. It’s definitely a soccer thing.


    I was aware of the concept of trialists, but not that MLS teams did it. I’d only seen it before at youth team level in Scotland, never first-team level.

    Also, in that game, the Union all wore NNOB: link

    Forget about the pants for a moment in the photo of Ulsrud during the 2018 Continental Cup of Curling. Check out the cool Team World tops from the 2018 competition.

    In the background, you can see the Team North America tops. A neat combination of USA and Canada flag imagery. Here are the Team North America tops in action:


    That’s the Homan rink. And surprisingly they’re not killing it at the Olympics.

    For sure Phil – I am quite disappointed with their start. They have been winning a couple lately. We will see how it ends up.

    The Jordan #12 jersey was made by Mitchell and NEss. However they messed up big time. The numbers on the jersey they produced M&N is sewn in.

    The numbers on the jersey Jordan wore was screen printed.

    I very respectfully suggest the Tugboat Captain try volunteering at a cat shelter. Maybe she already does. Kitties get care. Tuggie gets cat fix.

    Oh, those vertical stripes on the bowling alley walls! Serious 60’s flashbacks. And scoring by hand with pencil and paper… I love it.


    I went to a Learn to Curl yesterday and thought that was a good day (and it was!) But after seeing those pics from bowling – WOW! Thanks for sharing!

    I love that paper bowling score sheet. I don’t claim to know anything about bowling except try to knock down all the pins. I liked viewing the scoring key at the top of the sheet. I had to look up what the term “cherry” meant in a the context of bowling. I guess we learn something new everyday.

    I grew up in Mid Coast Maine with my old man rolling in a “Candle Pin” bowling league. Its actually what I thought bowling was going up. Once I moved I realized that you really can’t find that type of bowling anywhere else. Living in Vegas I found a Terrible Herbst gas station/mini casino in Searchlight, NV (home of Harry Reid no less) , a little shit town in the middle of no where (1.5 hours we of LV) that has 2 lanes. Pretty unique

    The balls are only like 3 lbs and the pins are skinny, so you whip the ball down the lane and try to get as much pin action as possible.

    Candlepin, link .

    LV itself is great for cheap “big ball” bowling (what I grew up calling it) 24 hours. Like $1-$2 a game at midnight.

    LOVE the alley and the manual scoring! Miss those days…

    What is your take on those who score a strike and spare with a fully colored in square and colored in triangle versus the X and the /? I was taught both as I was learning how to bowl and how to keep score.

    Just wondering: does anyone who bowls at a place where they have automatic scoring still keep score manually? I used to have a bunch of old clear plastic scoring sheets and a couple of paper ones. If they’re still at my parents’ house I’m tempted to take one along next time I go bowling.

    Didn’t watch the All Star Game. It was nice to see they did the floor in half Lakers half Clippers colors. As long as they’re sharing the arena I’d like to see that treatment for every game!

    So light blue, instead of grey, road unis now count towards a color vs color matchup? This is getting ridiculous.

    Also 2 college teams wearing softball tops in the same game is hardly noteworthy.


    just out of curiosity, what are everyone’s thought on bowling in the lane by the wall?

    I have only bowled a few times but liked having a lane by the wall. Fewer distractions.

    Van Nest Lanes seems like the kind of place that somehow still allows smoking…but I am sure there is some sort of ordinance against it.

    Amazing to go to medical school while playing in the NFL. Nice that the medical school would allow him to do this.

    Proud that Laurent is a product of Canadian university football and making his way in the NFL. He was a member of McGill Redmen in U Sports’ Quebec conference.


    Apparently he is not related to WHA star Marc Tardif, but his grandfather was a prominent Québec politician.

    The bowling article brings back a lot of memories of Shell Lanes in Brooklyn, where I spent a lot of time through high school. They had 32 lanes, which makes sense as there will likely be an even amount of lanes and I have usually seen multiples of 16. The empty slots on the scorers table in the picture were filled with disgusting ash trays back in the day. I haven’t really bowled much the last 30 years…maybe 15 times? Still have my equipment bag with balls and shoes from 1987…like a time machine. I went a few years ago and almost bowled a 200, which I would consider a good game back in the day. I tried to go back, but won’t bowl in the dark where I can’t see the boards and arrows. I cut out that Van nest story too and have thought about going, which would be easy as I work in the Bronx. How about a Uni Watch event there?

    Little logos on the nets? UGH. You just know we’re in for yet another advertiser’s logo. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry for a place on which I never even imagined you could fit a logo.

    Although the squares appear to be switched, it actually looks like the material isn’t lined up properly at all. The angle each square hits the seem is far different from one to the other. Prototype silliness I guess.

    I don’t usually comment but when I do it is when something really gets brought to my attention. Those Arkansas cream uniforms look more like an Alabama uniform. I would want to be more like ‘Bama on the gridiron not the mound.

    I’ve been to Van Nest Labes many times, living in a near by neighborhood. It was ised in Men in Black 3, but renamed Cosmic Lanes.

    The Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL wore uniforms of Chase (of PAW Patrol) Sunday as part of a PAW Patrol promotion.


    I am a little late to this party, but Van Nest Lanes really reminds me of 70s Saturday mornings at our local bowling alley, when I bowled in our youth league. It was interesting to see that the lanes not only don’t have automatic scoring, but they don’t appear to have ever had any sort of setup to project scores for league play.

    The light yellow on the facades was fairly common for Brunswick – we had an alley at Klamath Falls, Oregon done in that same shade, and there was an alley over in Medford that had an identical scheme. Sadly, the lanes were removed from the Klamath building several years ago. However, the structure lives on as, of all things, a health clinic!

    Most bowling alleys where I grew up (Northern California/Oregon) were set up with lanes in multiples of four – 12, 16 and 24 were the most common arrangements. Bowling alleys in larger cities might be 30, 36 or 48 lanes. It would be interesting to know the reason for that.

    Did the Brunswick crown on the facades light up on any of the lanes if the bowler recorded a strike? The machines in our alley did. If you were feeling really good as you prepared to bowl, you might tell your teammates that you were going to “light the crown” with your ball.

    Thanks for the look back!

Comments are closed.