Tag Archives: 1960’s

Artifacts from the Bowling Hall of Fame

A visit to the Bowling Hall of Fame in Dallas is a wonderful trip down memory lane. During my visit last year I came across a mock-up of a typical bowling center lunch counter that had bowling photos and advertisements laminated into the counter.

 

Here is a photo of an announcement on the outside of the center advertising an upcoming match between Andy Varipapa and Junie McMahon, sometime in 1959 or 1960.

 

Click image to enlarge

 

Andy Coaches Yogi Berra, Robin Roberts and Alan Ameche (1960)

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…

America Bowls - 1960

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!”

Eddie Elias, Andy Varipapa, & Lou Campi Celebrate 2nd Anniversary of the PBA Tour (1961)

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

 

Andy Entertains the Crowds on the Streets of New York at Madison Square Garden Open (1968)

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

Andy Varipapa demonstrates trick bowling to passers-by. Exhibition was part of Madison Square Garden’s “bowl-in” on Seventh Ave. near 32nd St.

 

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.

 

Andy & Frank Varipapa finish 4th in ABC Classic Doubles (1961)

Andy’s last competitive achievement of note came at the ABC Tournament in Detroit in 1961. Just a few weeks before his 70th birthday Andy, the oldest bowler in the Classic Division, and his son Frank teamed up to finish fourth in the Classic Doubles with a 1252 total, as Andy rolled 648 to Frank’s 604.

 

Almost exactly one year later and just a few days before turning 71, Andy announced his retirement from competition after completing his last qualifying block at the PBA Houston Open.

 

1961 ABC - Full

The “Lost” Schaefer Beer Commercial – 1965

The “Lost” Schaefer Beer Commercial – 1965

 

In 1965, Schaefer Beer contracted with Andy Varipapa and his good friend, billiard champion Willie Mosconi, to each produce Schaefer Beer commercials that featured their famous trick shots. Their commercials were shown separately on the Schafer Award Theatre movie presentation, usually on Saturday nights in the New York City area. As they were performing either on the lanes or the billiard table the famous Schaefer jingle would be playing in the background.

 

Despite all the old commercials that have been uploaded to YouTube, including many Schaefer commercials, this one still seems to be lost. I remember Andy’s well, having watched it as a child and it was one of his best performances. I have tried to contact Schaefer, but they were sold to Stroh Brewery in 1981 and then subsequently Stroh Brewery was sold to Pabst Brewing Company in 1999, so connecting with people in the know has been difficult.

 

But I will keep trying as I would really like to add this to the collection. In the meantime, here are some old “bowling and beer” ads that I did find on the web.

 

Pabst Bowling Ad Schlitz Bowling Ad

 

 

Schaefer Award Theatre was a recurring television showcase of major first-run motion pictures aired between 1959 and 1968, and revived briefly in 1970. In New York City, the program ran primarily on WCBS-TV (Channel 2), except for two occasions in 1970 when it was shown on WNBC-TV (Channel 4). This special series was sponsored by Schaefer Beer, and each film run under this banner was shown with only four commercial interruptions. On WCBS-TV, this show was aired in place of their usual late-night umbrella, The Late Show.

 

Schaefer Award Theatre was also shown in some other major cities in the United States, such as on WCAU-TV (Channel 10) in Philadelphia, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Boston, KYW-TV (Channel 3, now WKYC) in Cleveland, and, in later years, WJRT-TV (Channel 12) in Flint, Michigan.

 

To view Andy’s 2015 Wheaties Profile, click here.