When I first got into league bowling, the big leagues in my area were the Paramus Classic, the Met Majors in Manhattan, the Ripley league in Brooklyn, and the Seaboard Classic on Long Island. A lot of hall of famers and future hall of famers bowled in theses leagues. Bowlers like Tony Sparando, Lou Campi, Teata Semiz, Ralph Engan, Chuck Pezzano, and later Mark Roth and Mike Limongello all competed in these leagues. One of the very good bowlers was Bert Goodman. Bert was a top bowler, but just a notch behind the hall of Famers. However, the way Bert acted, the way he dressed and carried himself, he elevated his status. His clothes were always immaculate, his shoes were always polished, and he was a great team player. He would stand in between the pairs the entire 3 games of league and root for his team. Some of the guys would talk and laugh amongst themselves about how Bert acted and dressed like he was a top pro. Frankly, I found it refreshing that someone would take that much care when going bowling.
One night when we were bowling Bert’s team, after about 2 games I offered him my seat. He declined and I asked why. He said, “Son, I never crease my pants.” I wanted to ask him if he walked to the league or changed pants in the bathroom, but finally decided that would have been tacky, and I let it go. Besides, I never saw his pants wrinkled, so I think I knew the answer. But it was those kind of statements that made other players talk about him.
The PBA came to Edison lanes and when Bert walked into the paddock, he saw Dick Weber working on a ball. He walked up to Weber and said, “Richie babe, how’s it going?” Weber, in typical Weber style said,”Hi Bert, nice to see you again.” Now I don’t know anybody that ever called Dick Weber “Richie.” I know his wife and kids didn’t, so this sort of shocked everybody. I guess Bert figured by calling Weber, “Richie,” it put him in the inner circle and elevated his status in the bowling world.
After the tournament and back at the leagues, the Richie incident took on major gossip proportions. A bunch of the guys decided to have some fun with Bert. Now what follows, let me make crystal clear. I did not see this, but was told this happened. Maybe, if Bert is still alive, or possibly his son could confirm if it’s true or fiction. These guys got together and sent Bert a telegram. It said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Bert, Ray Bluth has been injured, and the Budweisers are short one player. Can you come to St. Louis to fill in for Ray until he gets better?”. Signed by Dick Weber.
It got serious when these guys had to go to the train station to try to convince Bert that it was a joke and they sent the telegram. Bert refused to believe them. He said, “You’re lying, Dick needs me!.” Somehow they managed to keep Bert from getting on the train. Now I know this story is funny and makes Bert look foolish, but for me, especially in the 1960’s, someone who cared that much about himself and the sport can only make the sport better.
Bert Goodman, you elevated yourself which in turn elevated our game….Thank you,
cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia