Sometimes Even When Something Isn’t Fun It Can Turn Out to Be Funny – Bowling Memoirs by Johnny Petraglia

Brunswick used to sponsor the Mini-Eliminator in Las Vegas. Every entrant got a bowling ball that we would drill for them. Everybody would pitch in to bring in the hundreds of balls needed for the tournament. After that, there would be specific jobs for everyone. A typical year would be Chuck Gardner, Ron Bragg, and Robert Lawrence mapping out the balls, and Jason Guest doing the drilling. Jason would end up drilling a couple of hundred balls a day. Other years, Ray Edwards, Nick Smith, Frank Marrese, and other product specialists would be there.

The first 8 lanes in the center were called the “Brunswick practice range.” Anybody bowling the tournament could bowl on the practice range all day if they felt like it. The range was open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. My job was to stay at the range, demo the balls, and help anybody who asked for help. Eight hours is a long time and can be stressful. As an example, there was always a group from Japan who would fly in. I would stay on lane one, watch the bowler throw a couple of shots, and then give my advice on how to correct what they were doing wrong. The problem was nobody spoke English, so I would have to go through an interpreter. When the bowler would get up and do the same thing, I had to figure out if he or she was just bad, or what I said got lost in translation

There’s a lefty from NY that I grew up with, Joe Tusa. Joe knew he had me for eight hours. Everyday he would be there at 8:45, waiting for the lanes to be turned on, and ask for help all day. By the second day I started hiding behind the stacks of bowling balls we were drilling just to get a break. The most incredible part was about every half hour Joe would yell out, “I got it! What else can you teach me?”. Now these were long days, and by the time we went to dinner, I was exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep. But the Joe Tusa year was worse. We had brought Sean Rash in that year to help out, and that night at dinner I was falling asleep. I was trying to be polite and listen to what everyone was saying, but it was a losing battle. I ordered a cup of coffee, but was so out of it, I started opening the sugar packs and instead of pouring the sugar into the coffee, I poured it on the other sugar packs. Robert Lawrence went into a panic, he thought I was having a seizure. He’s yelling,

“What just happened to John, should we call for medical help?”

Everyone else was laughing, the worst part is I DON’T USE SUGAR, I drink my coffee black. After everything calmed down I went back to eating my chicken, and when I got the piece of chicken half-way in my mouth…..I fell asleep. So there I am sitting at the table with my hands holding a piece of chicken in my mouth, sleeping. Sean Rash was sitting across from me. And what a good friend he is, does he wake me up? No! Does he ask if I’m okay? No!! He takes out his cell phone, takes a picture and puts it on his facebook page. Thanks Buddy!! Spoken with love to all my friends at Brunswick.

cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia

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