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!”
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
Here is the actual photo and caption from the New York Times on October 24, 1968. Below the photo is the full text of the article.
Click photo to enlarge
From the New York Times – October 24, 1968
The site was the concrete, sun-drenched plaza in front of Madison Square Garden on Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street; the participants included Dick Weber of St. Louis and Dave Davis of Phoenix, Ariz., and the spectators were smartly dressed Manhattanites instead of the Dutch burghers of New Amsterdam who used to watch bowls during their lunch hour at Bowling Green. Weber and Davis, two of professional bowling’s outstanding competitors, put on a two-game exhibition at a regulation alley set up by AMF Pinspotters to publicize Bowling Week, proclaimed by Mayor Lindsay.
But the main purpose was to call attention to the $80,000 National Championship of the Professional Bowlers Association, which will run at the Garden Dec. 1 to 7. Davis, a 26-year-old southpaw, won the initial championship here last year.
Emile Francis, the New York Rangers’ general manager, and Dick Tiger, the former world middleweight and light-heavyweight boxing champion, also rolled a couple of balls. Andy Varipapa, one of bowling’s big names, titillated the onlookers with a few trick shots.
Here is a copy of Andy’s letter of acceptance from Executive Director Eddie Elias into the PBA in January 1959, entering in the second wave of incoming members which included his son, Frank Varipapa.
While the PBA came around too late for Andy to make the most of it, he participated in 5 or 6 tournaments until he retired from competition in 1962 at the age of 71. He was a proud member and supporter of the PBA, always present at tour stops when they came to town and regularly interacting with members and fans.
Click on the letter to see a larger version. Also check out the impressive list of bowling luminaries and champions under the Officers list on the left side.
Venturing once again into the family archives, I’m following up my previous picture with a more regal one. Here’s a great photo of four of bowling’s Italian-American Hall of Famers…Carmen Salvino, Andy Varipapa, Joe Berardi, and Johnny Petraglia. Photo taken at the 1981 Brunswick World Open in Chicago, where Andy was honored on his 90th birthday.