The Interesting Mind of Ernie Schlegel – Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia

There is so much to tell about Ernie Schlegel, I could write a book. In fact a book has been written about him. It’s called, “Pin Action,” and it’s basically Ernie’s life. But there are no funny stories in the book or lighthearted moments. Here’s one of those moments that I was involved in. I think this will explain how Ernie thinks differently than everybody else.

In the 1970’s, the Miller High Life Open was bowled at Red Carpet Celebrity Lanes in Milwaukee. Celebrity was a 72 lane back to back house (36 on each side). The tiles in the settee area were white, but the last tile was blue, like a warning tile to let you know to step up onto the approach. Ernie and I qualified for the finals and were in the middle of the pack, so we started our match on 29 and 30, the last pair we were using on the low side.

At that time the PBA had a silly rule for the press. No photographer was allowed on the approach, or anywhere in front of the bowlers to take a picture, even during practice. Why they couldn’t do it during practice I’ve never figured out. Anyway….there’s a photographer up against the wall on 35 and 36 leaning forward as much as he can to take a picture of us. This is driving Ernie crazy. He feels that by leaning over the approach, he’s technically breaking the rules. He keeps telling me, “Look at that guy, pretty soon he’s going to put his foot on the approach,” and sure enough he does to try and get a better picture. Ernie is beside himself and says, “He did it! What are we going to do?”. I’m trying to practice and Ernie is throwing a fit because this guy has one foot on the approach 6 lanes away. Ernie asks me again, “What are we going to do?”. I said, “I don’t know Ernie, if he puts his second foot on the approach and crosses the BLUE line, we’ll call him for icing and give him 2 minutes in the penalty box.” A couple of seconds after that practice ends. Ernie starts the match. He gets up and goes thru his aiming routine. Just before he takes his first step, I see his shoulders start going up and down. He steps off the approach and starts laughing. He finally realized what I said.

He takes his time, gets reset, and throws his first shot. He hits the nose and leaves the 4-6. He comes back off the approach and picks up the phone and asks for the tournament director. Harry Golden comes down and asks what the problem is. Ernie says, “I’m placing Petraglia on report.” Harry says, “For what?”. Ernie says, “He deliberately told me a joke just before I started to break my concentration.” Harry says, “You’re kidding me Ernie…” and going by the rules, Harry has to put me on report, and I had to go in front of the tournament committee the following week. After Ernie told them what happened, the committee said, “You’re kidding me Ernie.” Ernie was convinced that if anybody else was in that situation I would have been found guilty. I couldn’t convince him that he was wrong. To add insult to injury, that’s the year I won the Miller High Life Open. I guess I can thank Ernie for the extra inspiration. I was so upset I bowled a great first game against Ernie and never looked back. THANK YOU ERNIE!!!

cento anni… Johnny Petraglia

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