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.
This article focuses on Andy’s participation at what would turn out to be his final appearance at the annual ABC tournament. While this 4th-generation photocopy is hard to read (I’m still searching for the original), I was able to magnify it to copy the caption under the photo as well as the opening quote, shown below from Allie Brandt.
“He did more for the game than any other person, was a great competitor and the finest advertisement I ever saw for the game, Anybody who ever said he wasn’t a terrific bowler had to be a bit jealous because Andy knew how to make money at the game” – Allie Brandt
Andy Varipapa, who will be 92 March 31, greets autograph seekers at the Niagara Falls Convention Center last night. The world’s greatest trick shot bowler, who was elected to the American Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1957, was a popular attraction in the city on numerous occasions for exhibitions and match games. He was among the celebrities present at ABC Hall of Fame ceremonies.
In the Season 10 episode of MASH, “Blood and Guts”, Klinger tells Col. Potter how excited he was to meet Andy Varipapa in his hometown of Toledo.
Interestingly enough, there is actually some truth in this. In the 1950’s Andy was on an exhibition tour that took him to Toledo and met young Jamie Farr as he visited the city’s bowling centers. And Andy’s autographed photo is on the sports wall of the famous Toledo restaurant, Tony Packo’s, that Klinger always mentioned on the show.
In addition, Harry Morgan (Col. Potter) also knew Andy, as Andy was the mystery guest on an episode of “What’s My Line” in 1957. As he was listening to the various clues Harry excused himself from voting because he felt sure that the mystery guest was Charles Atlas. Obviously he was wrong, but it is interesting to note that Charles Atlas and Andy came from the same town in Italy, along with famous wrestler Bruno Sammartino.