Bowling is generally acknowledged as a family sport. Moreover, the tenpin game has managed to foster lifelong friendships all over the world. Tournaments like the FIQ, the AMF World Cup, the Tournament of the Americas and various other international events have not only brought together peoples of diverse faiths, customs, and political convictions; they have developed amicable, congenial, and benevolent sentiments towards each other, despite the turmoil that may exist between some nations.
On the domestic front, USBC leagues (formerly ABC/WIBC) feature teams whose rosters have been unchanged for years. Over the years, perhaps thousands of married couples discovered their mates in league or tournament play.
I am unaware of reunions in bowling. However, I can attest to one reunion that has been ongoing for quite a while…a gathering that was initiated by Andy Marzich, a PBA and ABC Hall of Famer. Several years ago, Marzich, a Torrance, Calif., resident, was in need of some auto repairs. Marzich, who dealt exclusively with a mechanic in the San Diego area, asked his good friend Joe Lyou, a noted bowling writer from a nearby community, to ride with him to San Diego and possibly arrange a luncheon with me and some of my bowling friends while his car was being repaired. Andy and I knew each other from his bowling days with the Falstaff Beer team, a bowling juggernaut that featured such stars as Billy Welu, Dick Hoover, Glenn Allison, Harry Smith, Al Savas, and, at one time or another, players like Steve Nagy, Buzz Fazio, Ron Gaudern, and Carl Richard.
During this time, Joe Norris, one the greatest bowlers ever, lived in an area about a mile from Little Italy, a district featuring numerous Italian restaurants. It is close to downtown San Diego and easily accessible from Interstate 5. I knew Andy would really enjoy listening to some of Joe's old stories. I invited Norris to join us for lunch. I made a reservation at Filippi's, the first of numerous dates I would make for future luncheons. This was the birth of a Southern California bowling reunion.
Norris was always the star of the show, not only for his bowling experiences all over the world but more so for his hilarious stories and mirthful antics in the bowler's paddocks.
With each passing reunion, the attendees increased. Dick Evans, a PBA and ABC Hall of Fame member and one of the most prolific and respected bowling writers in the history of the game, often visited the Jowdys in El Cajon, particularly when he planned to attend a bowling tournament or function in Las Vegas. Having often written and spoken to Dick about our get-togethers with Marzich and his friends, Evans suggested I arrange a similar luncheon during a given date to one of his visits to my home. This was a real no-brainer. Joe Lyou, who never failed to check into our home when Evans visited, made arrangements to bring several others to our reunion. It was a memorable occasion that included six ABC Hall of Fame members: Joe Norris, Barry Asher, Glenn Allison, Andy Marzich, Dick Evans, and myself.
Following Joe Norris's death a few years ago, our reunions tapered off a bit, that is, until September 7, 2005. This time, it was inspired by Dick Evans's planned visit to the Jowdy household. Naturally, Joe Lyou would not only join us as our guest but would contact Marzich and other Los Angeles area bowlers for our latest reunion. In the meantime, Duke McGrew, one of our regular reunion members, called Mort Luby Jr., a fantastic bowling writer and longtime publisher of Bowlers Journal International and asked him to join us. McGrew, a former Chicago resident and a longtime friend of Luby, urged him to attend our gathering. Luby e-Mailed Dick Evans and sought his opinion. Evans sold him on the idea by describing my wife's reputation for serving the best fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fantastic gravy. Despite suffering from an aching tooth, Luby, a world-class diner, accepted the invitation.
The 12 attendees included ABC Hall of Fame members Dick Evans, Mort Luby Jr., Andy Marzich, myself, plus WIBC Hall of Famer Virginia Norton. Unfortunately, Barry Asher and Glenn Allison were unable to attend. However, attending our function was Andy Gagliano, San Diego Bowling Association secretary, and Joe Norris's best friend, confidant, and caretaker in his final years. Andy used to drive Joe to and from all his league and bowling activities. Not to be forgotten, we reserved an empty seat at the head of the table for Joe Norris and made a special toast to his memory.
Luby's appearance may have been further enhanced by my wife Brenda's carefully planned three-day itinerary, which included a tour of the wine country in Temecula, approximately 60 miles north of San Diego. Brenda also arranged visits for Mort to Balboa Park, Old Town, and nearby museums. Luby, who has a tremendous passion for art, has become an accomplished painter. His works have become the prime focus of attention at Bowl Expo auction sales. During his short visit to San Diego, he spent much of his time composing watercolor scenes along his way and before departing, Mort presented Evans, Lyou, and the Jowdy family with samples of his artistic talent.
The latest SoCal bowling reunion, emboldened by Andy Marzich, has inspired an even greater gathering for 2006. Interested parties may contact me at 619/448-4348 or E-mail me.