Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia – The Great Chris Schenkel

When the PBA was on top, it was number one in its time slot for 30 years. 21 million people a week were watching the show. One of the reasons for the success was the announcer Chris Schenkel. Chris was sportscaster of the year 4 times. He announced all sports. NCAA football was his favorite. People felt if Chris was doing the show, it must be important. He loved the bowlers. He said what was great about the PBA tour was the players were so close to the fans, and Chris loved the way we related to the fans. He always thought we were the most down to earth of all athletes he worked with. On TV Chris looked like the nicest guy in the world. Actually the secret is, he was nice on TV and even nicer in person. As big as he was he never used his influence to better himself. If you watch an old show, take notice how Chris knew he had limited knowledge of bowling, and always deferred to Burton to explain things. I was lucky enough to do a few shows with Chris and he treated me the same way, as if I was an equal instead of a rookie sportscaster.

I want to tell one personal story that will explain the kind of person Chris was. The first year of the Johnny Petraglia Open was 1990, and my mother sent Chris an Italian meal. Chris thanked my mother on the show. Just before the show started Chris asked for my father to meet him at the ball return on the practice pair 30 minutes before airtime. My mother didn’t go to that show. Chris and my father spoke for about 5 minutes, then Chris went back to the booth and my dad went back to his seat. I asked my father what they talked about. He said he wanted to know how he and my Mom were; health wise, bowling wise, etc. I thought that was very nice. In a way he was thanking my Mom for the meal. But that wasn’t all of it, because every year at my tournament Chris would tell me,

“Tell your Dad…..at the ball return 30 minutes before show time.”

And it always started, “Tell me how the last year has been for you.” He did it until my father’s death in 1999. It takes a special kind of person to care about people that much. A one of a kind, Chris was certainly that.

God Bless Chris Schenkel…. cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia

One thought on “Bowling Memoirs of Johnny Petraglia – The Great Chris Schenkel

  1. Jonathan Tullin says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It felt like a part of my weekends was going away when Chris and Nelson Burton JR left the scene in 1997. That was the sadest goodbye I had ever saw on TV.

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