A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 15, 2016
“What is the quietest sport?"/"Bowling, because you can hear a pin drop.”

A bowling riddle is:

Q: What is the quietest sport?
A: Bowling, because you can hear a pin drop.


The riddle was printed in many newspapers in January 1958. However, the “you can hear a pin drop” bowling joke—not in riddle form—has been cited in print since at least 1915.

“What is the loudest sport?"/"Tennis, because everyone raises a racquet” is a related riddle.


30 March 1915, The Evening Telegram (Dixon, IL), “Dementtown Doings,” pg. 2, col. 1:
Rooms over a bowling alley should be great for those who demand absolute quiet. At ‘most any time one could hear a pin drop.

18 March 1920 Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, “Left Earful,” pg. 6, left masthead:
THINGS NEVER WERE SO QUIET IN A BOWLING ALLEY THAT YOU COULD SAY YOU COULDN’T HEAR A PIN DROP.

31 December 1920, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, “Luke McLuke Says,” sec. 1, pg. 1, col. 5:
Bang!
“Business is pretty dull, isn’t it?” asked the lounger in the bowling alley.

“Yes,” replied the bowling alley proprietor. “Things are so quiet in here that you could hear a pin drop.”

26 December 1926, Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), “K. C. Alley Rumblings” by the Lumberjack, pg. 2, col. 6:
That old saying “It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop” certainly does not go in a bowling alley.

27 January 1958, San Diego (CA) Union, “Fun Time—The Riddle Box” by A. Leokum, pg. A10, col. 1:
What is the quietest sport?
Bowling. You can hear a pin drop.

Google Books
April 1960, Boys’ Life, “Think and Grin,” pg. 7, col. 4:
Moe: What is the quietest sport you can play?
Joe: Beats me!
Moe: Bowling, because you can hear a pin drop.
— Bob Hanna, Beaver Falls, Pa.

17 October 1969, San Diego (CA) Union, “Riddle Box,” pg. A20, col. 2:
What is the quietest sport in the world?
Bowling. You can hear a pin drop.

Google Books
June 1973, Boys’ Life, “Think and Grin,” pg. 74, col. 2:
Fin: What’s the quietest sport in the world?
Fang: Bowling — you can hear a pin drop. — Steve Hinchman, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Google Books
Biggest Riddle Book in the World
By Joseph Rosenbloom
Illustrated by Joyce Behr
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
1976
Pg. 94:
What is the quietest sport?
Bowling, because you can hear a pin drop.

Google Books
Dude, Got Another Joke?
By Bob Phillips
Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers
2002
Pg. 106:
Arnold: Did you know that bowling is the quietest sport?
Burt: No, how can that be?
Arnold: You can hear a pin drop!

Google Books
Gigglers: Sporty Jokes
By Toby Reynolds
London: Scholastic UK
2016
Pg. 28:
Q. What is the world’s quietest sport?
A. Bowling, because you can hear a pin drop!

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Tuesday, November 15, 2016 • Permalink