At this year’s Senior U.S.Open, I ran into Matt Surina. He doesn’t bowl much anymore, but it was good seeing him again. He asked me if I wrote in my memoir blog about the time I asked him and Dale Eagle to stay in the back of the settee. We had a good laugh about it and I haven’t written about it…until now.
In the mid 70’s we were bowling the “King Louie Open” in Kansas City. I was bowling the practice session and the lanes were pretty nice. I was happy with my reaction so with about 20 minutes left I started looking at other parts of the lane to see if I could find an alternate shot in case mine disappeared. I moved into the 4th arrow and the ball reacted well. I moved my eyes in a little and it hit the pocket again. After 3 or 4 shots this spot looked as good, if not better than where I had been playing. Then I hung in the thumb a little, the ball hit almost the 3rd arrow….and hit the pocket. So I moved my eyes to just inside the 3rd arrow and it hit the pocket again. I couldn’t believe it. I started jumping around to other lanes to make sure it wasn’t just that lane. All the lanes were the same. I had trouble sleeping that night. The next morning when I threw my practice balls the lanes were the same. I couldn’t wait to get started. Then I realized I was bowling with Matt Surina and Dale Eagle. Back then they roomed together. They called each other, “Bunky.” To say they were quirky is an understatement. Surina would march out for the pro-am with a leash and have an invisible dog. He would then step out of line and make believe the imaginary dog was doing his business. Eagle would stand on the ball return and “CAW” like an eagle. You get the picture.
Game one, frame one. Surina leaves a half ten that gets hit, it rocks, but doesn’t go down. He walks back with his head down. I step on the approach. Eagle, sitting on the front seat of the settee says, “What’s the matter Bunky?”. Surina says, “If that was a shooting star it would have fell.” I step off the approach. Frame 2 Surina strikes. Frame 3, Surina leaves a ringing 10 pin. He walks back with his head down. I step on the approach. Eagle says, “What’s the matter now Bunky?”. Surina says, “I guess the bowling gods think I’m so great I don’t need any luck.” I step off the approach and put my ball down. Then I said, “The two of you come with me.” I take them behind the settee and draw an imaginary line on the floor. I then said, “For the next 18 games you two are not allowed to talk to each other forward of this line.” Eagle says, “Oh can you hear us?We’re sorry.” I guess the look on my face told them how serious I was. To their credit, for the next 18 games they talked only in the back and were perfect to cross with. I started the tournament with 257, 246, 205, 300. I qualified 2nd and lost to Earl Anthony on the show. When we remember, the most vivid things are the wins, or bowling 300, or the terrible losses. But after that, it’s things like this outside the box story that you remember most.
P.S. Matt seems pretty normal now, but Eagle is still….. Quirky!!!
cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia