I grew up with Richie Hornreich. Richie is one of the best action bowlers of all-time, and could have been one of the best bowlers of all-time. His major problem was, he hated motels and traveling. He also hated the pace of a PBA event. He would always tell me, “At home I’m bowling for $1,000 a game. Out here I have to bowl for three days to win $1,000.” After only three weeks on tour, he packed it in and went home. To give you an idea of how great he was, Richie won everything there was to win as a junior bowler. He accomplished so much by the age of 16, he was invited as an amateur to compete in the World’s Invitational. It was one of the biggest tournaments around at that time. Nearly 200 entrants competed and only 16 made the finals. This was the year that Jim St. John won and introduced the bowling world to the “gutter shot.” Richie had never played outside the 2nd arrow. So here he was playing the gutter for the first time in his life, and at the age of 16, he made the finals (the top 16). By Richie choosing not to bowl on tour, the bowling world missed watching one of the games greats. Therefore, it’s my privilege to tell a story about Richie off the lanes.
When I got back from Vietnam, Richie met a girl and they fell in love. It was a turbulent relationship, but you could see how much they cared for each other. So they decided to get married. I was the best man and a good friend of ours, Red Bassett, was in the bridal party. In the church at the alter, instead of repeating after the priest, they decided to read a card that the priest was holding. The final sentence that Richie had to read was, “I will respect my marriage vows.” Maybe Richie was nervous because when he got to the last word, instead of pronouncing vows (like the word cows), he pronounced it like a bow from a bow and arrow set. This could have passed with a chuckle, but Angela kneeling at the alter turned to him and said, “The word’s vows Richie.” Richie responded, “Vows (like cows)…vows (like the bow and arrow)….what’s the difference.” The priest’s eyes looked at the ceiling. I turned and looked at Red, and I asked him “What’s the over, under?”. Red said, “2 years.” That night at the reception when it came to the part when the bride cuts the cake, Angela cut a piece too big for Richie’s mouth, and smeared it all over his face. Richie then cut a piece the same size. He held Angela’s head and tried to put the piece of cake in her mouth. Angela knocked the piece of cake off the fork onto the floor. I looked at Red.He said, “One year!”. They actually lasted 2 1/2 years.
I see Richie a couple of times a year. Once every year we have a reunion with all of the guys from the lanes that grew up together. Every time we do, it’s like being in the Bruce Springsteen song “Glory Days.” When we feel like crying, we start laughing, talking about “Glory Days.” This year remembering Richie’s wedding was one of the best of all. As I said, I see Richie a couple of times a year. Red moved to Houston and is doing well, but I want all of them to know….Richie, Red, Bubbles, Frankie, Pickles, Bobby, Vinny and Mikey and all the rest… those days were GLORIOUS!!
cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia