Hall Of Fame Inductee

Al Hong

Inducted into: Builder Division in 2013

Location: Scarborough

  • Builder

As we recognize the accomplishments of Al Hong as a builder of our sport in Ontario, his resume actually begins in Manitoba, includes Saskatchewan and Alberta as well as leadership at the Canadian level.
Al was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1940. Subsequently, Als family moved within Manitoba to Newdale, where his sister Carol was born. The family then moved to Saskatchewan with stops in Kelvington and finally Saskatoon, where his father and mother, George and Gertrude, settled and George became an agent for Sun Life Insurance.
Al began his nearly fifty year bowling career in Saskatoon in 1963, but not before Al had made his mark in other athletic pursuits. A promising hockey career developed in Saskatchewan as Al played for junior teams in such cities as Saskatoon, Humboldt and Prince Albert. Officially in the New York Ranger system, Al attended a Ranger training camp that was held in Saskatoon in 1959. While tall, Al was a bit on the light side and the young right winger was assigned to the American Hockey League and the Springfield Indians, who were under the management of the legendary Eddie Shore. Al joined the team but couldnt overcome a persistent rib injury and, at age twenty, Al returned home to begin his adult working career.
As a student, Al had set pins and, in 1961, he joined a local bowling league. With strong athletic ability, Als average rose quickly and organized bowling beckoned. From 1966-1972, Al became a member of the local bowlers association, helped organize the provincial Master Bowlers Association, conducted several coaching courses and, ultimately, in 1972, was named president of the provincial Master Bowlers Association. The following year, Al moved to Calgary, but not before he bowled a perfect game at Saskatoons KG Bowl. Moreover, in Alberta, Al coached several teams at both the youth and adult level and, in 1976, Al bowled at the Canadian championships in Regina and his scores earned him a spot on the prestigious national all-star team.
In Calgary, Al also took his organizational skills with him. He immediately became the provincial course conductor and, in time, president of both the provincial 5 pin association and Master Bowlers Association. This leadership at the provincial level also brought Al recognition at the national level with both the Bowlers Association of Canada and the Canadian 5 Pin Bowlers Association (C5PBA). In 1979, these two groups amalgamated under the leadership of Dave McNutt and, on September 1, 1980, Al became Executive Director of the new group. In addition, he was named coach of the ladies team that would represent Canada in the first International Small Ball Championships to be held in the Philippines. This was a big step for five pin bowling which was basically only played in Canada. At their first meeting, Al was named Secretary General of the new, world-wide group.
In 1980, Al came to Ontario and spent three months in the office of the Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers Association (05PBA) to become better informed on both the administrative as well as the financial workings of bowling in Canada. Al took this knowledge with him to conduct the affairs of the C5PBA. Originally operating out of Calgary, the national group moved to Ottawa with the start of the 1983 season.
In the next decade, Al was the overseer as bowling grew in every province and territory. Bowling was in the Canada Games, a second small ball international event was held in Ontario, Bowl for Millions with Big Brothers raised thousands of dollars, membership increased and the provincial and local associations prospered. Several employees were hired including Sheila Carr who continues as Executive Director to this day. As well, in Ontario and living in Ottawa, Al expanded his on-lane accomplishments with seven visits to the Open, five as a bowler and two as a coach. He also won the $5,000 first prize at the inaugural Cornwall Open.
However, one big challenge remained. In 1993, the O5PBA needed a new Executive Director and Al was brought in to re-organize bowlings largest province. In fact, prior to 1994, Al actually commuted from Ottawa to Toronto, effectively conducting the affairs of both organizations.
In Ontario, Al used his knowledge to the fullest. He introduced budgetary controls, an event manual with timelines, and stabilized the affairs of the O5PBA. Recently, Al has made a unique trade-off of his time. In Ontario, Al has reduced his hours to concentrate on event planning, while, at the national level, Al has been elected to the role of Corporate Secretary Treasurer of the C5PBA.
Al has been honored both provincially and nationally with life memberships in both the O5PBA and the C5PBA and both awards are well deserved. In addition, Al is a recipient of the Syl Apps award from the Ontario government, in recognition of his volunteerism. On a lighter note, Al and Henry Fehr are 50/50 sellers at Toronto Maple Leaf hockey games and both men are thankful to have finally seen a playoff game last season. Al hopes there will be many more opportunities and maybe even one against the New York Rangers.