Jim Doty, the long-time general manager of Royal Pin Leisure Centers (now Royal Pin Entertainment) in Indianapolis, passed away on March 4 while on an annual “snowbird” trip to Florida. He was 73.

Inducted into the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame in 2019, Doty was a serious businessman but could be wickedly funny, and highly accomplished but extremely humble. On the evening he was honored by the PBA, a fellow inductee spent at least 10 minutes trying to convince him that he was deserving.

Under Doty’s leadership, and with the blessing of proprietor Don Mitchell, Woodland Bowl hosted PBA events over a span of more than 20 years, including the U.S. Open, PBA Touring Players Championship, USBC Masters, PBA World Championship, PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA League Elias Cup finals, among others. Woodland Bowl is the only center to have hosted all five PBA major championships.

“Randy Pedersen once called Woodland Bowl the Yankee Stadium of bowling, and he’s right,” Doty said during his induction acceptance speech. “The list of players who have grown up here is a long one. It’s great to know all of the people who know us as the place where the pros bowl. I’m proud of that.”

Doty was quick to deflect attention away from himself, noting, “It’s been a labor of love, but if it wasn’t for my dedicated staff, we’d never [be able to] host the PBA.”

Doty’s was a lifelong love affair with bowling, dating back to when he joined his first junior league at the age of 10. Once he got involved in the business side, he played many roles at the local, state and national levels. In addition to the PBA hall, he was a member of the Indianapolis Bowling Hall of Fame. Outside of bowling, he served at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church as a Sacristan and on the finance council.

Tributes from colleagues, friends and associates poured in as the word of Doty’s untimely death spread.

“Jim had been an integral part of our Royal Pin family for nearly 45 years and will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” said Jimmy Clapper of Royal Pin Entertainment. “We are extremely thankful for all he has done to make Royal Pin what it is today, and his legacy will forever be a part of our company and the bowling industry.”

PBA Commissioner Tom Clark said, “Jim Doty touched many lives through his passion for the game. He led great bowling centers and wonderful staffs that hosted many of the most prestigious tournaments ever, not just PBA events. The ‘Beer Thirsty’ sports bar is adorned with championship banners from every PBA player to have won a title at Woodland Bowl, so Woodland is part of the fabric of the PBA. For most of us, it simply feels like home.”

Former PBA Players Services Director Larry Lichstein said he met Doty at the first PBA tournament at Woodland in 1980, calling him “a great host who made sure his center hosted the best in the world every year (except one) since. He was the most accommodating GM — just a gentleman.”

Former PBA National Tournament Director Johnny Campos described Doty as “a great tournament host and a great friend. He definitely deserved to be in the PBA Hall.”

Even icons from the world of women’s professional bowling chimed in, Pam Buckner calling Doty “a wonderful man and proprietor,” and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard describing him as “a great man who truly made bowling better.”

And from a business perspective, nobody said it better than another veteran bowling center operator, Reggie Frederick: “Jim was a calm and steady influence in our industry.”

Doty is survived by his wife of 47 years, Mary Fleck Doty; sons Jeremy (Katherine) Doty and Christian (Alicia) Doty, daughters Julia Siewers-Rutjes and Louisa Weber, and two granddaughters, June Louise Doty and Rhiannon Lee Ann Doty.

Before his unexpected passing, Doty had been planning to attend International Bowl Expo in Orlando this June, as he did every year. But his “attendance record” at the Indianapolis 500 was even more impressive. He had witnessed that race for 65 consecutive years.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: