In 1973 I was in the Superstars. Dave Davis and I represented Bowling. We were with the Football players, tennis players and racecar drivers. I got to race in the 100 yd dash against OJ Simpson and Franco Harris. I didn’t finish last, I beat Davis and Johnny Rutherford.
I met and became very close friends with Phil Villapiano. He was a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders and a member of the crazy Raider team that won Superbowl XI. Just a few of the players on that team were Jack Tatum, Otis Sistrunk, the quarterback was Ken ( the snake ) Stabler. Phil was just as crazy. they beat the Vikings. I was at the game at the Rose Bowl. It was a great experience.
At the Superstars Phil knew nothing about bowling so I helped him as much as I could, and he did pretty well… I think he bowled a game in the 160’s. Phil ended up making the finals. When we got back to NJ I gave him bowling lessons and drew a chart for him to make spares. I knew it would be tough for him to get into moves by counting boards, so I made a chart with boxes. In each box i would draw a pin leave and said if you leave these pins, stand here and look here. I tried to come up with just about everything he could leave so there was about 50 boxes. Watching him on the show was great. Phil would leave a spare, look at his chart, stand where he was supposed to stand and then let the paper drop. He finished 3rd in the bowling part and 4th overall.
I’m not exactly sure when the first cell phone came out (maybe 20 yrs ago) Brunswick had put one in my van. It was actually a car phone, you couldn’t take it out of the car. I’m driving to the west coast, I had stopped for the night in Oklahoma. The next morning I get on the road, at about 9am my car phone rings… It’s Phil. He says,
“Johnny P, I got myself into a big money bowling match. The guy is as bad as me so it should be a good match. The reason I’m calling is I lost my spare chart.”
This is 20 yrs after the Superstars. I said I can understand that, he says, “You have to help me make a new chart.” I said okay, what would you like me to do. He said, “I’ve got a big piece of paper in front of me, you talk, I’ll draw.” So for the next two hours that’s what we did. About 10 to 12 hours later I’m in Arizona, the phone rings again; it’s Phil. He says “I F_ _ _ _ _ killed him!” He sounded just as excited as when he won the Superbowl!
Phil would always put in a company team on celebrity pro-am night at my tournament.. One year he got the date wrong. When I informed him he was coming on the wrong day, he said” That’s okay, if you can get two more pros, we’ll just bowl on the wrong day, because he couldn’t change the day with his company. So I got Parker Bohn and Jason Couch and we bowled the pro-am all by ourselves. We had just as much fun as regular pro-am night. After we were done we went into the bar, Parker, Jason, myself and Phil and his 8 people. We had our own party and Phil said, “I like this better than regular pro-am day, we had more room.” I think Phil’s wife Susan described Phil’s personality perfectly, she said… Phil is never offstage, he’s exactly the same at 3am in the bedroom. People like Phil Villapiano make life worth living, I’m lucky to have him for a friend.
cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia