Before the creation of the PBA and the popular Pro Bowlers Tour show, bowling was televised weekly on Championship Bowling. The show ran from 1954-1960 and featured two current stars facing off in a 3-game match.
Many of the shows can be found on YouTube and this one features Andy Varipapa and Steve Nagy, circa 1956. An interesting historical fact comes out in the opening introductions. During the practice session Andy rolled the 78th and final 300 game of his career; and we know it was a true 300 because Steve Nagy was keeping score!
Click image below for video
During a visit to the Bowling Hall of Fame the great Earl Anthony taped this wonderful testimonial video to Andy, celebrating his long career and numerous contributions to the sport of bowling.
Click photo to link to video
When timeless Professional Bowler Association star Carmen Salvino, a long-time very close friend of Andy, laces up his bowling shoes and throws his first ball in competition in the Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Woodland Bowl, he’ll set a record that will never be matched.
At age 84, PBA’s most famous showman will become the only player to bowl in the first PBA tournament ever held – the 1959 Empire State Open at Schade’s Academy in Albany, N.Y. – and the 2018 tournament at Woodland Bowl that will celebrate the PBA’s 60th year of continuous competition.
He’ll break his own record which he set when he bowled in the PBA’s 50th anniversary gala in Las Vegas at the age of 74. And he’ll improve upon his own record as the oldest player ever to bowl in a PBA Tour event.
For more details, click press release here.
Andy teaches sailors the basics of bowling during his visits to U.S. naval bases during WW2. He also performed his trick shots and engaged in friendly competition with several of the sailors.
From: Jim Goodwin
I met your grandfather in 1979 when he came to the Great & Greatest Tournament in Irving, Texas. The owner of Golden Triangle Lanes, Jeanie Hulsey hired him to come to the event simply to be an ambassador for bowling. Hulsey was an incredible promoter who hosted the 1974 Women’s U.S. Open in Irving, and the 1975 and 1976 Men’s U.S. Opens and 20 PBA Quaker State Opens from 1977-96 at her other center Forum Bowl in nearby Grand Prairie.
Hulsey had tremendous respect for your grandfather and bowling history. She hired professional photographers for all of her events to record that history, and her family has thousands of 8×10 color photos of every great bowler from that era including your grandfather from the 1979 event. Hulsey gave me a copy of a group photo with Andy right in the front row center where he belonged. She said it was one of the smartest things she ever did hiring him to represent the event. He spent the whole week telling stories and entertaining everyone, resulting in a ton of publicity for the event. The TV Finals was 90 minutes as a special featured event on the CBS Sports Spectacular series.
You never know what you’re going to find as you go through the family archives. Who needs the Nathan’s hot dog contest? From the early 1940’s here’s bowling’s “Italian Connection” of Andy Varipapa, Hank Marino, and Joe Falcaro vying for their own spaghetti championship in a New York restaurant.
Somewhat reminds me of one of the dinner scenes in “The Godfather”. Hmm….
From: Bob Dennis
I met Andy Varipapa in the early 1960’s at Lewis and Clark bowling lanes in Seattle, Washington. I happened to be the highest average bowler at L & C lanes and I was selected to bowl a three game exhibition against Andy in the evening. I do not remember the exact date, but the place was packed. I lost to Andy that night, but we both shot over 650. I was looking at all the stuff that I had accumulated and found a picture of Andy that he autographed and gave to me.
Baseball and bowling have mixed well for a long time, and Andy often interacted with some well-known personalities. Here he is performing his trick shots and coaching baseball greats Yogi Berra, Robin Roberts and NFLer Alan Ameche on a 90-minute CBS Sports Spectacular presentation “America Bowls” in 1960. Network TV in prime time? Those were the glory days…
Earlier that year Andy gave an exhibition at the Grand Opening of Berra-Rizzuto Lanes in Clifton, NJ (see photo). When they sold the business in the 1980’s (which became Astro Bowl), Yogi came up with another great Yogi-ism in a bowling commercial, “Some days it’s so quiet in the bowling center you can hear a pin drop!”
At the kickoff dinner prior to the PBA National Championship in New York at Garden City Bowl in 1966, PBA Founder Eddie Elias presented Andy with an award to recognize his enduring contributions to the Sport of Bowling.
Click on plaque below for larger view
The page below comes from the 1974 PBA Tour Guide. The article talks about the growth of the PBA Tour from its beginnings in 1959 to 1974. The photo shows Andy Varipapa, Lou Campi, and PBA Founder Eddie Elias blowing out the candles on a bowling ball as they celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the PBA Tour in 1961.
Click on photo for larger view