Archive for December, 2020

New Year’s Eve at Belmont Bowl (1963)

December 31, 2020


Andy Renaldy (1962)

December 29, 2020


1 ABC championship (1962-S)

Johnny Petraglia Bowling Book (1972)

December 27, 2020

No optical illusion—this fun little booklet was published in a truncated-triangle format!


Christmas at ABC Headquarters (1939)

December 24, 2020

ABC 1939

Andy Varipapa Christmas Greetings (1944)

December 22, 2020

A Christmas Story

December 20, 2020

To many people this time of year brings back cherished memories of the magic Christmases of childhood. But I always remember the Chicago Classic League, and its annual visit to Habetler Bowl.

The time was the early 1960s. The PBA Tour was on the rise, and the Classic League had passed its peak.  Yet the league still loomed large on Chicago’s bowling scene.  It had a history.  Twice a week, our four daily newspapers carried the scores of the Classic’s two divisions.

And there were the bowlers! The league boasted many of the legends we had grown up watching on TV—Joe Norris, Paul Krumske, Harry Lippe, Eddie Kawolics, and more.  Those demigods would be performing on the same lanes as our Saturday morning junior league.

The Classic came to our house the last Tuesday before Christmas. That date was important, for with school on vacation, it was easier to talk parents into letting us stay out to watch a 9:15 league.  Our proprietor, Rudy Habetler, was a former president of the Classic.  I like to think he secured that special date so his junior bowlers could attend the session.

The publicity blitz began around Thanksgiving.  Large posters were hung on the Habetler Bowl walls proclaiming that the Classic League was coming.  The message was echoed on the outside signboard for the enlightenment and edification of the motorists along Northwest Highway.  Around the middle of December, the Classic League Yearbooks appeared. These were digest-size booklets crammed with pictures, statistics, and schedules, and we eagerly scooped them up.

The big night finally arrived. Portable grandstands had been set up behind the last eight lanes, and spectators began filling them as early as 8 o’clock—which produced some nervousness among the 150-average bowlers in the early league who suddenly had an audience.  Then, a little before 9, the Classic Leaguers began drifting in.

Everything about them said class.  They were freshly barbered, spoke in low voices, and smoked seven-inch cigars.  They carried leather bowling bags and wore silky shirts with the finest embroidery.  When they took to the lanes to warm up, even the bottom-rungers managed to get a devastating curve out of a hard-rubber ball with no apparent effort.

Don Eberl (1941-1998)

Each year there seemed to be some new phenom who had been tearing the league apart. His name might be Jim Stefanich or Don McCune or Les Zikes Jr.—with the final suffix, since Les Sr. still bowled in the Classic.  One year the promising rookie was our own Don Eberl, a graduate of Habetler’s Friday night scratch league.

Of the actual bowling I recall very little. There was roo much to take in.  My most vivid memory is of Eddie Kawolics coming out of the box with the first seven strikes.  Another time there was an old-timers’ match.  Rudy bowled along with some other vets.  What made this special was I got to watch the great Adolph Carlson in action.  It was the only time I would ever see him bowl.

And then it was over. My friends and I came out of our trance.  We drifted sleepily into the night toward our homes, declaring that we would show up a half-hour early for league next Saturday, so we could try out the tricks we gleaned from observing Andy Rogoznica or Lou Cioffi.

Going home from one of these sessions, I had the aura of the Classic League reinforced for me. It was long past midnight, and as I walked down Foster Avenue, a police car pulled up next to me.  Vacation or not, Chicago youth had a strict 10:30 curfew.

When I told the officer where I had been, his face brightened, and he asked me how the Biasetti Steak House team had done. He then told me to get into the squad car—and gave me a ride home.  He spent the trip talking about Vince Grzelak, Biasetti’s young phenom.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

First published in BOWLERS JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL in December 2008.

For this story and 89 more, buy a copy of my book THE BOWLING CHRONICLES.  Available on Amazon.

Don Bredehoft (1970)

December 17, 2020


2 ABC championships (1961-TAE, 1970-D)

Peter Hand Reserve Beer—Chicago (1957)

December 15, 2020

(L-R)–Dave Moffat, Les Hoffman, Jack Reckase, Al Koltz, Arky Ginger

Treaty Lanes—Greenville, OH (1966)

December 13, 2020

1137 Dayton Rd.

Patriotic Bowling Tournament (1918)

December 10, 2020