Welcome to the Bowling Season, Everybody, Now!

Yes, I’m among the throng who got back to the lanes last week. A card-carrying member of the USBC, for which I pulled an extra $20 out of my pocket for the honor. And, yes, I do consider this a sport. Not the way I perform it, perhaps, with my average that ended at 163, near the bottom of my 12-team league last year. Also, I do not own a button-down bowling shirt of the kind you see if you’ve stopped on a bowling tournament on TV.

Tastes best from a brown bottle, said Chris Schenkel.  (Photo from Wiki page)

Tastes best from a brown bottle, said Chris Schenkel. (Photo from Wiki page)

Which I did every week as a kid, with my parents, watching guys named Earl Anthony and Johnny Petraglia and Dick Weber rolling strike after strike. No, those aren’t funny names. The announcer on ABC, though, was Chris Schenkel, and he also used to make a commercial that merely supported “the great taste of beer in a bottle,” which aired on every tournament, which until I turned, oh, 16, I found pretty funny.

My search took me to bowl.com and its list of the members of the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.

Click on any gallery photo for a description.

Yes, found the names of Weber, Petraglia and Anthony on the list for “superior performance.” Weber was inducted in 1970, because he won tournaments, amazingly, in six decades. His son, Pete, is also in the Hall of Fame. Petraglia, a native of Brooklyn — no wonder my Brooklyn-born pops loved him so — won his first tournament in 1967, but didn’t get into the Hall until 2009. Anthony, a hard-cranking lefty who started with a buzz cut, was voted the top bowler of the 1970s, and was inducted in 1986. In 2008, he was voted “the Greatest Player in PBA History.”

Of course my eyes wandered down the list. Much further down. To the “pioneer” category. I pictured hardy sorts that had to run down the alley and re-set their own pins, you know? Lug the ball back uphill, in the snow.

That’s where I found two names that forced me to click upon them.

Hello, Rokuro “Fuzzy” Shimada and Rev. Charles Carow.

I loved the thought of a Japanese pioneer who went by Fuzzy. A natural. And a bowler who perhaps was helped by divine intervention.

What I found was bowling in the USA’s dirty little secret.

Get this. There was, in the 1900s, a nasty rule in the ranks of the governing body of the sport, the American Bowling Congress. The top of the sport was bigoted. Just like the more publicized cases of baseball and golf.

And these two guys helped get that changed.

The biography for Shimada says: “A strong bowler who was barred from ABC membership because of the Caucasian-Only rule, Shimada was instrumental in promoting the sport to Japanese-Americans. He shared his knowledge as an instructor and promoter throughout California and helped organize the National Japanese-American tournament where he won 13 titles in 43 years of participation. He has five top 10 ABC Tournament finishes and three times won the Northern California BPAA match-play crowns.”

I bow to the tenacity and talent of Fuzzy.

Of the good Reverend: “Father Carow was heavily involved in conducting a bowling program for the Catholic Youth Organization in the New York City area. He became a New York City Bowling Association Director and later an ABC Convention delegate who pleaded with ABC to open its membership to minorities in the late 1940s. The Caucasian-Only rule was changed in 1950.”

Praise be, Father Carow.

Sixty guys in my league, of many ethnicities. Hooray, bowling season.

Here’s the link for bowl.com, the source all photos except for Schenkel.

Here’s the link for Chris Schenkel’s wiki page, the source for his photo.

About markbialczak

Mark Bialczak is a veteran journalist. He started his blog, markbialczak.com, in February, 2013, to write about music, entertainment, sports and life.
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30 Responses to Welcome to the Bowling Season, Everybody, Now!

  1. ksbeth says:

    it can’t hurt to have a father on your team and a fuzzy, well, that goes without saying…

  2. SD Gates says:

    I wonder how he got the name of Fuzzy? I honestly did not know bowling had a season. Hmmm – the things we learn while blogging.

  3. Reblogged this on Martha Keim-St. Louis' blog and commented:
    Funny guy. My best funny name is Dr. Sleeper, an anesthesiologist

  4. We bowled on a couple’s league for many years. Mostly I remember the social life, and the beer. ☺ Bowling on TV is like golf to me…not a lot of fun to watch, better to do.

    • markbialczak says:

      A couple’s league! Good for you, Van. My dear wife Karen will show up once in a while to watch us and, yes, drink some beer. 🙂 I don’t drink when I bowl. It makes me do worse.

  5. Ann Koplow says:

    Have I told you about my surgeon, Dr Payne, or my therapist, Dr. Cash?

    Great post, funny Mark.

  6. Interesting post about the history of bowling. Amazing to think about the prejudice even in bowling. Sound crazy now but sad.

  7. Dave says:

    163 is way better than I usually do.

    Are you a fan of Guppy Troup at all? We certainly are! https://funnynamesblog.com/2012/06/07/guppy-troup/

    I’m definitely a fan of Fuzzy after reading your little bio of his. I’m a sucker for pioneers like Fuzzy.

    Also, I think bowling may be the only sport where a reverend can be such a legend. Hooray for bowling! I wish Rob were still around the BoFN because he’s a bowling enthusiast in his own right

    • markbialczak says:

      I read the Guppy Troup post before I started writing this one, King Dave, after researching to make sure I wouldn’t duplicate any BoFN bowling turf. Well done there! I wish Rob were around to enjoy the bowling season with us, too.

  8. Dave says:

    One of these days, you’re gonna have to show me how to do that cool trick where the picture caption shows up when you hover over the image! I’m impressed, Mr. Bialczak!

  9. Arto says:

    I love anyone named Fuzzy (*exceptions may apply), but a bowling pioneer named Fuzzy? Top of my list of Fuzzies.

    Haven’t been bowling for a while now. I guess it’s the off-season so that explains it. Off to the lanes for some brown bottles and a bit of the old rolling it down the lane action.

  10. Mark, great post. My better half and I have recently “rediscovered” bowling. Kerbey and I had been discussing the bowling alley at the Bass Pro Shops–the Fish Bowl. It spurred us back out to the lanes.

    I remember watching the pro bowling on TV as a kid. Earl Anthony was my favorite, perhaps because he and my dad shared the same style crew cut at the time. 🙂

    • markbialczak says:

      I hope you and the hubby knock ’em down good, Tracy. Yes, old Earl and his crew cut were very popular when we were young! That was the style my father fostered upon me until I was old enough to put my foot down. Oh, third grade?

      • I can only aspire to achieve your bowling score Mark. My husband on the other hand used speed and strength to take out the assembly. He did much better.

        As to the crew cut, I have only worn one once in my life, very early in our marriage, my husband used my hair comb to clean the clog out of the sink drain. It took a while before I could bare using a comb again. We now have unclogging tools conveniently located with each sink. Ahhh. 🙂

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