Does Life Get Any Better Than This! – Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia

My First Professional Tournament Finals Appearance


In January of 1966 ABC-TV was covering the Winter Olympics. Because the entire film crew had to be at the Olympics, we had to film 2 tournaments in December that would be shown in January. Those 2 tournaments were Edison N.J. and Denver Colorado.  To fly out from Brooklyn to Denver and back for just one tournament was pretty crazy, but I was 18 and would bowl any PBA tournament I had a chance to. I bowled decent the first block, and then to my surprise I shot 1400 the second block and a good 3rd block. Back then you bowled 3 qualifying blocks, and they cut the field in half and you bowled one more qualifying block. It was known as the “Gas Squad” because it was easy to choke and bowl your way out of the finals, which was easy to do because only 16 bowlers made the finals. In the future the PBA would go to only 3 qualifying blocks and 24 finalists.

I was nervous but was able to hang on and make the finals.  When I woke up the next morning I was euphoric. I couldn’t wait to get to the lanes and start my first round ever of match play. In the middle of the first block I was bowling Dick Weber. I was sitting in the settee watching Dick bowl and started thinking… I’m 18 years old… I’m in Denver Colorado… I’m on the PBA tour… I made the finals… and I’m bowling Dick Weber!!

I then blurted out of my mouth, “DOES LIFE GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!!“.  Everybody in the area turned and looked at me. It was then I realized, “HOLY CRAP,I SAID THAT OUT LOUD!”.  Weber was standing at the ball return (thank God he wasn’t bowling).  He turned and looked at me and smiled. I often think the way he smiled he was thinking back, and maybe he felt the same way the first time he bowled Joe Norris……… The circle of life.


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