Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia – Big Jack Kordusky

The bowling world lost a great friend this week. His name is Jack Kordusky. Better known as “Big Jack.” Big Jack died in his sleep, and he was only 54 years old. He had hip replacement surgery a couple of months ago. Whether this had something to do with his death, as of this writing, we don’t know. All that’s known up until now is that he wasn’t feeling very well the last few days.

In 1973, I became house pro at Carolier lanes. I was also partners with Roger Gardner in the pro shop. Jack, as a junior bowler, was already big. As he grew he reached his full height 6 feet 9 inches, and around 280 lbs. This is someone who really loved the game. He was involved in every part of the sport. He eventually became the manager of Carolier lanes.

When I had to coach Michael J. Fox for the movie Greedy, it was going to take about 2 months to get him ready. It was Jack’s job to make sure Michael got everything he needed, and be in charge of security. When Jack met Michael for the first time (Michael is 5 ft 5 inches), Jack said, “Hi Michael, I’m the manager of Carolier Lanes. My name is Jack Kordusky, but most people call me Big Jack.” Michael looked at him and said, “I think I’ll just call you Big,” and for 2 months that became Jack’s new name. He was just known as Big. Good morning “Big,” can I have a coke “Big,” etc.

Jack did a great job. Each day he blocked off a section of the lanes and posted security personnel at locations so that Michael wouldn’t be bothered while learning how to bowl.He saw to all of Michael’s needs. On the day the movie premiered, I bowled the 300 in Toledo and then went back to New Jersey for the Johnny Petraglia Open. Michael was bowling in the celebrity pro-am. This was a nightmare for Jack. The place was wall to wall people. Jack, with his size, politely kept people from mauling Michael while constantly searching for someone looking for 15 minutes of fame by attacking a star. He hired extra security and the night went off without a hitch.

This is the Jack I remember. Always trying to help people, always giving 100% to promote the game. When my son was young, I would leave him at the lanes and let Jack know. And I knew I had nothing to worry about. Jack eventually moved to Florida and got involved in the bowling business there. To give an example of his effect on people, Randy Pederson’s response to his passing was, “OH MY GOD.”When I told Pete Weber, he was instantly shaken up and left the building.

I will borrow a line from Jimmy Dean’s song “Big John.” When Jack is in his final resting place his tombstone should read, “Here lies a Big Big Man….BIG JACK.”

cento anni’ Johnny Petraglia

6 thoughts on “Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia – Big Jack Kordusky

  1. Georgia (Peach) says:

    Johnny,
    Beautifully written. I remember when Michael was at Carolier and Jack brought him into the lounge to meet me. I was cutting up limes. Such wonderful memories. Thanks. Peach

  2. Thom Kordusky says:

    John,

    I have to thank you for your kind words about my Brother. So you know we are having him cremated in Florida and his remains will be shipped up to me here in Central NJ. When I have them I’m trying to set a time and place for those that want to come pay their last respects. His ashes are to be buried with his parents at St Peter’s Cemetery in New Brunswick. I will post details on Facebook and contact a few of his great friends in the area to spread the word around. We held a “Celebration of Life” for him at Heartland Bowl in Sebring, Florida last Friday and had 200 friends attend to give some testimonials. It was quite emotional for me.
    Thank you, once again, Thom Kordusky

  3. Cathie & Bob Nesbitt says:

    Johnny, Since moving to Florida in 2012 we had several opportunities to see Jack. We attended the services held at Heartland Bowl and it was truly a sad day but also heartwarming to hear how Jack touched the lives of the people of Florida. The house was packed, everybody wanted to tell their story, time was given for each and every person to speak. Some memories were old and some happened just days before. Ours go back to before Jack could drive and straight through to a very enjoyable evening spent with him in St. Pete. We will miss him.

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