BILLERICA -- Candlepin bowling, like so many other sports and businesses in the fast-paced, internet world, isn't what it used to be. Not by a long shot.
But that doesn't mean the men and women who compete in the sport should be forgotten. Bob Moran of Billerica is one of those men, and he is rightfully being remembered at the age of 80 by being inducted into the International Candlepin Bowling Hall of Fame.
Moran, whose glory days came in the 1970s and '80s, bowled for 21 years on the professional candlepin tour and made regular appearances on the televised shows that were so popular at the time, including Don Gillis' Saturday morning show on Channel 5, the Stars & Strikes show on Channel 50 and the weekly show on Channel 27.
In 1989, Moran won the Tournament of Champions on the Channel 50 show. He has vivid memories of that tournament.
"I bowled the semifinals against Mike Morgan," said Moran, whose memory remains sharp. "Our three combined strings were the highest ever, 448 to 435."
On the pro tour he "cashed a lot of checks" with consistent top-five finishes. He captured a tournament in October of 1974, he recalls, his second year on the tour, with a record 10-string total of 1,427 (an amazing 142.7 per string) at Bowl-o-Rama in Portsmouth, N.H.
That is actually one of the dwindling number of candlepin houses still in operation.
"A lot of them have closed down," lamented Moran. "There are probably 20 percent of the total lanes that there were back in the '70s.
When he was about 20, Moran met his future wife, Carol. One of their first dates was, not surprisingly, to a bowling alley. She had never seen candlepins before, but took to it like a natural. She bowled a score of 112 for her second-ever string, including a double-strike, Moran remembers.
They were married soon after and will celebrate their 60th anniversary in July.
Carol made 12 TV appearances in her day and won a women's pro tour event as well.
Moran served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954-62, stationed with the Strategic Air Command. After the service he spent time in the Midwest and in Africa, working mainly for government contractors related to atomic energy.
He also worked in various capacities in the bowling industry for the Brunswick company "off and on for 40 years."
Bob and Carol have lived in Billerica for 45 years. They have seven sons. Their granddaughter, Ally Moran, is currently the star pitcher for the Wilmington High softball team.
The induction ceremony will be held in October at DiBurro's in Haverhill.
Follow Dennis Whitton on Twitter @DAWhitton