Watch as PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia shoots 300 at the 1994 PBA National Championship to claim the $100,000 bonus.
I’m skipping ahead to 1994. I get asked a lot about the 300 at the PBA National Championship. The back story is so incredible, I’m sure you’ll find it interesting. The story is long enough that it will take two writings to get it all in. This first part will be what happened up to and bowling the 300. The second part will be what happened after the 300.
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For the people reading that are atheists, this will show how all the stars and planets do line up perfectly at certain times. For those that believe in God, this will prove that a Deity does exist. This story starts with Brunswick being contracted to be the ball company for the movie, “Greedy,” starring Michael J. Fox and Kirk Douglas. I was given the job of making Michael J. Fox look like a pro bowler. We worked together for 2 months. Let me say now that Michael is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and one of the most dedicated. He tried really hard to look like a pro, and did a pretty good job in the movie.
In the movie if he can make one more TV show, he will get the job as announcer on the show. He finishes 6th in the movie because I bowl 289 the last game and come from 8th to pass him. The movie’s premier was March 4th, 1994. On March 4th in Toledo in the PBA National Championship, I’m in 7th place going into the last game and bowl 279 to go from 7th to 5th and make the show in real life. The same time that it’s happening in the movie theater. That’s freaky number one.
That night Larry Lichstein and I are discussing how in the world we’re going to pay for college for our kids. Mine were 9 and 3 at the time. Larry said “Just bowl 300 on the show tomorrow and put it in a savings account for the kids.” The both of us laughed. During the practice session five days earlier Brunswick ball rep Ray Edwards drilled me a Forest Green Quantum with a layout that hooked a ton. He said, “You never know when you might need it, just keep it the paddock as part of your arsenal.” During the same practice session Fred Borden saw a flaw in my game and told me about it. By the end of the practice session it was corrected. Freaky two, three, and four.
On the telecast the next day, everybody is striking, but about 10 minutes before airtime everybody’s ball starts to straighten out. I can’t even hit the head pin. Ray Edwards asks me, “Where’s the Forest Green Quantum?”. I tell him, “It’s in the paddock.” We’re on 29 and 30, and the paddock is behind 59 and 60. Ray runs to the paddock, gets the ball and runs back. When he gets back, tournament director John Campos says, “One more shot on each lane,” to myself and Eric Forkel. I was playing around 15. Ray says, “Move into 20.” I do and leave a 6 pin . On my last practice shot he has me move in to 22-23. I leave a half 7 pin. Ray says, “Start with the Quantum and start right about there.” The first game i shoot 236 and win. The next game I shoot 300 against Walter Ray. Nobody else on the show shoots 200.
If Larry isn’t there, if Fred isn’t there, and especially if Ray isn’t there, the 300 never happens. Two things happen right after that which are etched in my memory forever. First, watching the replay of the last shot Chris Schenkel (possibly the greatest person ever to walk the planet) says, “I can’t think of anybody finer to win it all.” The best compliment I’ve ever received!!! Second, as I walked off the set, the lady behind the desk says, “Line 4 is for you, it’s the White House.” I said, no it isn’t. Bill Clinton isn’t sitting in the White house watching the PBA tour and then calling the lanes 10 seconds after the show is over, it’s a prank call. She says they’re very insistent and she doesn’t want to hang up on them. I said, “Okay I’ll take it.” I grab the phone and say, “Hi this is John.” On the other end the guy talking says, “John this is Joe Cirillo and I own the White House tavern in Chicago. The whole bar is going nuts and we just had to call you to congratulate you.”
For me, getting a call from a bar in another state where people don’t know me from Adam and take the time to find the number of the lanes and call to congratulate me showed the true love of the game and how they felt about me personally. Well that’s a heck of a lot better than getting a call from Bill Clinton!!
Next memoir.. after the 300.
cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia
3 thoughts on “Was it Fate Bowling 300 at the 1994 PBA National Championship?”
Love your memoirs !!! I’ve been bowling over 50 years until 3 yrs. Ago . I bowled the sr. Tour for about 5 yr.s and had a few cashes !!! Always admired your game and demeener !! That day you bowled 300 I remember well !! Was very happy for you!! Was happy to see you win here in Ft.Wayne !! I’ll try and meet you next time I see you are in the Fort !! Continued good look !! Pat Alexander
Met Johnny at the toc in Akron back in the 70’s through bill beach truly a class act.
I watched that game and was rooting for you to get that 300 game. I was so happy that you got it, but, sorry it was against Walter Ray. Both of you are two of my favorite bowlers and it was so hard to see you two bowling against each other. I’m looking forward to the second part of the memoir.