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Brush with a bowling legend

April 3, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Staff ( , The Mining Journal

There he was being interviewed on TV Sunday afternoon.

Carmen Salvino, one of the all-time PBA greats, was talking with bowling commentator Randy Pedersen during his namesake tournament, the PBA's Carmen Salvino Classic that was on ESPN.

And I got a chance to rub elbows with Salvino right around this time last year during a PBA event I attended purely as a spectator in Indianapolis.

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Yes, call me a name-dropper - if it means I get to talk to a legend, I'll drop names whenever I need to.

Salvino, now 78 years old, harkens back to the start of the PBA more than 50 years ago. That's part of what we talked about for around five minutes while we were standing in an elbow-to-elbow crowd on the concourse of Woodland Bowl at about 11 o'clock at night.

Let me set up this kind of odd situation. From about 8 a.m. off and on all day, a mix of pro bowlers both anonymous and high profile, at least for the bowling world, were spread throughout the center's 80 lanes that are laid out side to side uninterrupted over about 400 or 500 feet.

Everybody had finished bowling for the day and the crowd of a few hundred was ready to disperse for home - or in my case, to a motel room I was sharing with my good friend Pat Sertich, who grew up in Marquette and moved to Wisconsin about a decade ago.

With a number of bowlers being eliminated that night, the PBA publicist announced on the public address system that there was a three-way tie for one of the last spots to advance - and that tie included another Hall of Famer, Pete Weber.

A one-game rolloff would be held on lanes 41 and 42, the only lanes running in this "overtime" session.

So us remaining hundred fans or so crowded in as close as we could to watch. And who's at my elbow but Mr. Salvino - I think that's a fair way to address a legend, isn't it?

I needed a little conversation starter to get me started, and lucky for me I had a perfect one - I said, "Hey, I just saw you win a title on TV!" explaining that not two weeks earlier, I watched him on ESPN Classic win what I think was his last regular PBA Tour title in 1979 when he was 45.

We were still waiting for the tiebreaker match to get organized, so the two of us chit-chatted for a bit.

He told me how he was part of a group of about 10 or 12 guys that organized the PBA in 1959 and that it took a year or two before they got any tournament finals onto TV.

Carmen - hey, we're on a first-name basis now - said how he still likes to bowl with the "kids," but that they're way too good for him now.

And then he blew me away when he told me how he helped Brunswick develop its C-system bowling ball line just a couple years ago, since he's an amateur chemist and he helped work out the formulation for the reactive resin these balls are made of.

I didn't know how much of this to believe, but within a week when I got home, I found multiple citations on the Internet that placed him front-and-center with these balls' development.

Just as the tiebreaker match got started, I asked him who he thought would win, and of course he said Weber, considering his dad, the late great Dick Weber, was also a PBA co-founder.

Pete Weber didn't win, though, much to my (muted) glee, since I think "PDW" is ... well ... I'll just say something of a jerk.

Those five minutes were the highlight of my time in Indy and well worth the $50 or so Pat and I each paid to attend three all-day sessions.

Now onto the Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week.

Three consistent nights were joined by another bowler's big game in this week's race.

Denise Gurnack won the women's BOW at 139 pins over her 169 average in the Wednesday Industrial League at Superior Lanes. She shot 646 on games of 222, 200 and 224.

Next came Kris Holm in the Friday 800 Mixed, again at Superior, as she shot 110 over her 180 mean with a 650 that included three 200 games and a 224 high.

For the men, Ross Poupard blew away his 150 average by 155 pins in the Tuesday Miller Genuine Draft Major at Country Lanes. His 605 consisted of 222, 202 and 181.

Then comes big-game hunter Al Dufay Jr., back in Superior's Wednesday Industrial loop. He blew away his 171 average with a 279 middle game on his way to a 659 series, which was 146 pins over average. Just for the record, he broke his average in the other two games, too, with a 176 opener and 204 close.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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