Johnny Petraglia

Johnny Petraglia PBA mastch game videos on YouTube

Johnny is interviewd by the Phantom

PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia. Petraglia won 14 PBA Tour titles and became the second of four men to claim bowling's Triple Crown. He won his first PBA title at age 19, joined the military and then came back to capture the 1971 Firestone Tournament of Champions, the 1977 U.S. Open and the 1980 PBA National Championship, joining fellow Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick in the prestigious Triple Crown club. In 1994, after many people had counted him out, Petraglia made the TV finals at the PBA National Championship, in Toledo, Ohio. Petraglia became the seventh person to bowl a 300 on television, defeating Walter Ray Williams Jr., 300-194. The perfect game netted Petraglia a $100,000 bonus.

Johnny Petraglia

Hall Of Fame

Year Inducted: 1982
Induction Category: Performance

Petraglia, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, took up bowling as a youngster and fell in love with the sport, especially after witnessing a Don Carter-Dick Weber exhibition match at Madison Square Garden. He became a top player in his teen years, eager and ready to join the PBA. When he did, he, in short order, claimed his first PBA championship in the 1966 Ft. Smith (Ark.) Open. The lean and lithe lefthander had his career interrupted for a couple seasons when the Armed Forces called and sent him touring Vietnam instead of the pro bowlers circuit. He came back to fulfill his early promise and meet and surpass all of the goals and aspirations he had for himself. The Winter Tour of 1971 will be remembered as the highlight of the Petraglia era. He finished the segment with three consecutive titles, all earned from the top-seeded position, climaxed by the Firestone Tournament of Champions triumph. Petraglia concluded that year with five titles and more than $85,000, a record earnings figure for the time and one that would translate into nearly three times that amount with current prize funds. Petraglia won the 1977 BPAA U.S. Open with a 279 score in the title game and three years later pulled off one of his most dramatic triumphs, striking out in the ninth and tenth frames to secure the 1980 PBA National Championship, his 14th title and one that completed the cycle of major tournament victories. Additional titles included the Brunswick World Open in 1974 and the 1978 Long Island Open where he thrilled the home area rooters with a 298 game during the nationally televised finals. Petraglia's contributions and activities off the lanes have been just as impressive as his competitive prowess. A long-time member of the Tournament Committee, he served as President of the PBA in 1979-80. He has been involved in untold amounts of charitable functions and efforts. Petraglia was the 25th person to be bestowed with the prestigious PBA Hall of Fame ring.


HomeTown: Manalapan, NJ
Bowls: Left Handed
Joined PBA: 1965
DOB: 3/3/1947

BOWLING: Mark Roth, John Petraglia, Wendy Macpherson elected to USBC Hall of Fame
Mark Miller - U.S. Bowling Congress (817-385-8375) January 07, 2009

Three of the most successful players in professional bowling history have been elected to the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in the Superior Performance category.

Mark Roth, 57, of Fulton, N.Y.; John Petraglia, 61, of Jackson, N.J., and Wendy Macpherson, 40, of Henderson, Nev., will be inducted during the USBC Convention in Reno, Nev., on Friday, May 1.
Roth, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, is widely credited with introducing the high-revolution power game into the sport. Roth's unorthodox style produced 34 Professional Bowlers Association titles including a remarkable 14 victories over a two-year span (1978-79). His eight titles in 1978 stand as the most victories in a single year by a PBA player.

Roth also is a two-time PBA Senior Tour champion and banked more than $1.6 million during his career. He won Bowling Writers Association of America Bowler of the Year honors in 1977, ‘78, ‘79 and ‘84 and was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1987.

"I'm surprised. I didn't think I'd ever get in," Roth said. "It's a great honor. I got the call from USBC President Jeff Bojé on New Year's Eve, so it was a great way to bring in the New Year. At least I get to go in before I die so I can enjoy it."

Petraglia, also a Brooklyn native, is a 14-time PBA champion and one of five players in PBA history to complete the Triple Crown. After winning his first PBA title at age 19, Petraglia won the Firestone Tournament of Champions in 1971, U.S. Open in 1977 and the PBA National Championship in 1980. Billy Hardwick, Pete Weber, Mike Aulby and Norm Duke are the only others in the "Triple Crown Club."
Petraglia also was part of two teams that won American Bowling Congress Classic Team titles before the Classic Division was terminated, and he owns six PBA Senior Tour titles. He is the only PBA bowler to win three consecutive televised tournament titles, one of three who have won PBA titles in five different decades, and one of 17 who have bowled nationally-televised 300 games.

"I was very, very surprised. It was a shock, but it was wonderful news," Petraglia said. "I thought it would take two or three years at least. It's pretty special to be recognized alongside guys like Andy Varipapa and Dick Weber and all the great players who are in the hall."

Petraglia and Roth were both pleased to be elected in the same year.
"Mark and I basically grew up together, even though I'm four years older," Petraglia said. "Mark and I won a Paramus league one year, and the Met Classic league another year. We were good bowlers when we were young, but you never know how things are going to turn out. Looking back, it's a big surprise to see what we've accomplished."

For PBA Hall of Famer Mark Roth, a visit to AMF Babylon Lanes for last week’s GEICO Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship provided him with an opportunity to visit with some old friends and recount memories of a storied career.

One of those friends was fellow bowling great Johnny Petraglia. Both bowlers grew up in Brooklyn and would eventually become fixtures on PBA Tour telecasts during the 1970s.

Petraglia was granted a PBA Commissioner’s Exemption to compete in the Plastic Ball Championship, named in honor of his long-time friend and rival, and Petraglia’s son Johnny Jr. also competed in the event after earning a spot in the 64-player field through the Tour Qualifying Round.

This Roth-Petraglia reunion has been different than any other, however. That’s because Roth, who will turn 59 on April 10, is continuing his rehabilitation after suffering a severe stroke last May that left his left side paralyzed.

Since May he has worked hard to regain physical function, improving to the point where he was able to make the trip to West Babylon with his wife Denise to take in some of the action at the tournament named in his honor.

Last year, Roth was recognized as the fifth greatest PBA Tour player in history as part of the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration. Petraglia, who turned 63 earlier this month, ranks 16th on that list.

The right-handed Roth, a four-time PBA Player of the Year, is tied with Pete Weber for third in career tour titles with 34. The left-handed Petraglia owns 14 titles, and is one of only five players in PBA history to win the Triple Crown (U.S. Open, PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA World Championship).
Petraglia joined the tour in 1965, five years ahead of Roth, and for most of their careers, both bowlers competed with plastic bowling balls. Both have witnessed the evolution of bowling technology since then, but memories of competing against each other in the “old days” are cherished by both.
“I like the idea of a tournament where you have to use plastic balls,” Roth said. “I wish I could bowl in this one.”

While the two competed against each other often on tour, Roth’s favorite memory of bowling against Petraglia was not in a tour event.

“In the early ’70s, I bowled some action matches against John at Rainbow Lanes in Brooklyn,” Roth said. “It was just like a tour event — there were more than 300 people there. They had people watching down the lanes all the way to the masking units.

“He was a good, tough, strong bowler,” Roth said of Petraglia, “but I always looked forward to the challenge of bowling against him.”

Petraglia said his most memorable moment of bowling against Roth was in 1978 when he beat Roth in a semifinal match, 298-249, of the Long Island Open. (Petraglia went on to beat Jeff Mattingly in the championship match.) But Roth returned the favor the following week, defeating Petraglia in the championship match of the Greater Hartford (Conn.) Open.

“Those two weeks were not only my favorite memories of bowling against Mark, but some of my favorite overall on Tour,” said Petraglia. “In Long Island, we had all of our family and friends there. Andy Varipapa was there, and all of the fans were really into the show, as you can imagine.

“The next week in Connecticut Mark got his revenge by beating me 190-something to 180-something to win the title. At that time he was using a plastic ball and I was still using rubber.”

But what Petraglia remembers most about Roth was how competitive he was.
“When Mark and I were both on the Brunswick staff, we would do a lot of exhibitions, and at some of those we would bowl doubles matches against local bowlers,” Petraglia said. “If we were in a match where the local bowlers were striking or had a chance to beat us, naturally the local fans would be pulling for them and sometimes I would get caught up in the excitement, too.
“But whenever that happened, I remember Mark would always pull me aside and say, ‘C’mon, we can’t let these guys beat us.’”

Added Petraglia: “Bowling in a tournament with my son and named after Mark Roth – it doesn’t get much better than that.”
— Jerry Schneider

Bowling has been going through a scoring boom of late. Twenty years ago just over 5,000 perfect 300 games were bowled by almost 5 million league bowlers. Last year, with
just 1.7 league bowlers, over 42,000 perfect games were bowled. Who better to discuss this topic than PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia from USA Today.

buffalo: Hi Johnny. What is your bowling average? Has it gone up over the years even though you aren't as successful on the tour as you were in the 70s?

Johnny Petraglia: In my best year in the 70s I averaged 213.8. In my best year in the late 90s and 2000s I averaged 221. The main reason for the increase is the bowling ball. In the 70s I was using a rubber bowling ball. Now I use reactive resin and proactive resin - these balls are hundreds of times better.

Indianapolis, In: Do your legs shake when you get into a real pressure situation? If yes what do you do to make them stop?

Johnny Petraglia: Yes I shake. But I've learned that that's where all the fun is. The way to combat it is to take the pressure and put it in front of you. Now if I need a strike to win a match, I say things like my heart is beating faster, my palms are sweaty, I know 10 million people are watching me and I'm good enough to handle it. As long as the last thought is positive you have a great chance for success. Never think negative.

Bayville, NJ: Do you think it's more likely that a beginner will "figure the game out" on his own by throwing 3-5 games a week, or would progress faster with professional isntruction ( lessons ) and practice? If lessons and practice, how often?

Johnny Petraglia: You will become better and figure out the game better if you take professional lessons. Today's bowlers are better than yesterday's bowlers because of the knowledge accumulated over the years. For example, my son is learning from me and I was taught by Fred Borden, who was taught by people like Andy Varipapa. You have more generations of knowledge. It is no accident that six of the top stars on the PBA Tour bowled for Wichita State and studied with Gordon Vadakin.

Pittsburgh PA: Hi John, I am a past-president (2001) of the Pittsburgh Bowling Association and my question is: why do the PBA keep approving all these bowling balls that the manufacturers keep putting out. That is why there are so many 300 games - all you need is the right ball and some money!! Back when Mr. Nagy rolled his 300, rubber balls were the norm and that was it. It is too easy today for the bowlers and I would like to see the PBA start eliminating these new-fangled ball!! Get bowling back to what it was - "A SPORT" Gene M. Kubancsek Past-president GPTPBA

Johnny Petraglia: The PBA keeps approving the new bowling balls because they want the public to know that we're not using anything special. We are using same equipment as general public, unlike golf and tennis who have their equipment specially designed.

St. Louis, MO: How are you gettting younger people excited about bowling?

Johnny Petraglia: By telling them about the "new" PBA. Great strides have been made the last couple years since the PBA was bought by the Chris Peters group. The future looks great.

St. Louis: Thanks for doing this chat. Isn't the biggest problem with bowling the fact all bowlers do is whine and complain about lane conditions all the time?

Johnny Petraglia: Yes. Unfortunately a lot is justified. If lane conditions aren't done properly, it's the bowler that suffers. I don't think the problem will ever be solved until we can figure out a way to bowl on an oilless lane.

kalamazoo, mi: Is new ball technology reason for more 300 games?

Johnny Petraglia: Yes. The pins and the bowling balls are the biggest reasons for the higher scores. The easiest way to realize that would be to go to local center have someone that is averaging 235 or 240...give them a plastic ball or urethane and let them bowl on the same condition and you will see their average go down 20 pins or more.

Boston, MA: Have you ever done any candlepin bowling? How well did you do? ;^) What is your opinion on the game?

Johnny Petraglia: Yes I have. The toughest thing I've ever done. I thought duckpins were tough until I tried Candlepins. If you are good in candlepin, my hats off to you!

richmond, va.: Johnny, what do you think of Sport Bowling? Will it save the game?

Johnny Petraglia: No it won't save the game. Sport bowling is trying to create the scores that were shot 30 years ago. The problem is 30 years ago the game wasn't tougher. It's just that the dynamics were different. You could hit the pocket as easily as you do now, but you couldn't knock over the same amount of pins with a rubber bowling ball. Sport bowling is for the first time, intentionally trying to make the lanes tough.

Washington DC: I have an old Rhino Black ball that I have been using for the last 15 years. This ball works good for me I carry a 170 avg, should i get a new ball. It is convential drilled and I love it. Everybody says get a new ball but it works for me.

Johnny Petraglia: Get a new ball. If you can average 170 with a Rhino you will average 185 with a Frenzy.

Marshfield, Missouri: Will Professional Bowling tournments, either men or women, be televised on ABC, CBS, or NBC instead of cable? Not all of us out there in the sticks get get cable or have satelite dishes, that enjoy watching the pros bowl. Thanks!

Johnny Petraglia: Currently our contract is with ESPN, however they are discussing having some tournaments being put back on ABC. All of us would love that.

Milwaukee: Johnny, I loved watching you bowl 300 on TV. I remember you said the bonus money you won would go to your daughter's college education....has she graduated yet?

Johnny Petraglia: It was my son and my daughter. My son started college this year - that's where the money is going. My daughter is still only 12.

Boston, MA: Who do you think makes the best bowling equipment?

Johnny Petraglia: I've been with Brunswick for 31 years. Other than some ball testing I haven't thrown another company's bowling ball. However, in the last decade, Brunswick has had more bowlers of the year than any other company.

Charlotte, NC: From: Freddie Perdue - Johnny, I love my LT-48 rubber ball, but I have not bowl with it over 10 or 12 yrs. I bowl my best games with that ball. My question is do you think I could use that ball on the condition today.

Johnny Petraglia: It was the best ball of its time, but being a rubber ball, it won't work the same on today's conditions.

Memphis, TN: Think back to your first 300 game - how did you mentally handle the thought 'this could be my first 300'? Were you more mentally or physically nervous? When you are on the approach - what goes through your mind? What are you thinking? Do you think before you get on the approach?

Johnny Petraglia: It was in 1966 in Fort Smith Arkansas in a PBA Tournament. I was 19 years old. All I remember is that I was numb on the 12th shot and thankfully they all went down.

Memphis, TN: Who has played the biggest role in your bowling career? Do you still have a coach? How comfortable are you with the many different bowling balls on the market? Do you have a favorite coverstock?

Johnny Petraglia: When I was 13, my first coach was Andy Varipapa, which was a tremendous help. My father got me into the game and supported me until I got on Tour. The main reason I went on Tour was Dick Weber. When I was 14 I saw him do an exhibition in Madison Square Garden. When I left I remember saying to myself: I want to be like Dick Weber.


Johnny Petraglia: 33 300 games. About 15 800s. The first 800 and the TV 300 are the two memorable ones for me.

Milwaukee, WI: Johnny - I was watching in '94 when you threw 300 in Toledo, but truth be told, I was waiting to see Dale Traber and Dave Traber (both from the Milwaukee area) who were both seeded higher than you on that show. Anyway, I would like to get your thoughts on the current PBA on TV, specifically ESPN. On one hand, I like the big money that they shoot for each week, and I like the shirts with the names on them. But I miss watching it from a bowling alley... ESPN's set looks like it is bowled in the same location each week. A secondary question is "How do you like the new format?"

Johnny Petraglia: I understand you feel like you are watching the same each week because of the set. A recognizable set makes you know it's the PBA, but I like seeing the different bowling centers each week also. The match play format before TV makes for a more exciting event. For TV though, I would like to see them go back to a stepladder finals.

Memphis, TN: In your opinion, how has the updated and always changing bowling balls and sports condition affected the game? Was bowling at it's best when bowling balls were just plastic or rubber? This is interesting conversation - the 'modernization' of bowling? Please expand on this subject.

Johnny Petraglia: Good question...If the dynamics can match up, it doesn't matter whether plastic and rubber or reactive resin. We have missed the boat so far because we haven't put in pins that match up to the bowling balls.
If we got a better pin in there, bowling would be like the days of plastic and rubber.

Memphis, TN: Not a question - a comment. I live in Memphis, TN and bowl at Billy Hardwick's Bowling Lanes. He has a display case at the lanes with many of his accomplishments and photos - some of which you are included. Johnny, I tip my hat to you, Billy and the other Triple Crown winners. What an accomplishment! And one more time, Congratulations on your many, many bowling accomplishments.

Johnny Petraglia: Thanks very much

Aurora, Illinois: Johnny, Thanks for taking my question. How do you stay focused when you are string strikes, struggling with lane conditions or just throwing a great shot in a must double situation and wind up getting tapped.

Johnny Petraglia: It's important to have a routine. You will notice the pros on TV do exactly the same thing before every shot. Whether they are on a spare, an open or a five-bagger. Once you have a good preshot routine, then the mental side takes care of itself.

Memphis, TN: How does sponsorship work when you are a beginner on the PBA Tour? Do you go to potential sponsors or do they come to you? Are there any 'no-no's' about sponsorship on tour? Thank You.

Johnny Petraglia: Both ways..depending on how good and well known you are in your area. The basic sponsorship contract for a beginner is the sponsor puts up all the money - the sponsor gets all the earnings back until he or she is even and then the bowler and host split 50-50 whatever is left. It's important to let someone know if you are looking for a sponsor that being a sponsor is tax deductible.

Oceanside,NY: I am a lefty and average about 220, and recently shot an 834 series, but it is not a realistic scoring due to new equipment, and soft lane conditions. My question is the lefty vs righty harressment that I always receive if I bowl good, or lead a tournament. What should be my response? They hate us,but want us on their league teams! I am 57 and you are still my favorite PBA player despite myself and you being a lefty...

Johnny Petraglia: I could talk forever on this answer. The first thing you can say is lefthanders have 6-year shorter lifespan than righthanders. Then you can also mention that if you want any of my other problems our country's laws are based on the bill of RIGHTS..even my religious leaders tell me a good person is a RIGHTEOUS person..- Do you want my problems or do you want to stay righthanded! Seriously, lefthanders are as good as righthanders and it's time the righthanders believed it.

Bloomfield, CT: Why can wrestlers get Hollywood's attention but not bowlers? Pete Weber would have been great in the Scorpion King. Or Ernie Schegel even.

Johnny Petraglia: All i would say is I guess it has to do with what The Rock looks like with his shirt off compared to what Pete Weber looks like with his shirt off!

Worcester, MA: Hi Johnny. What do you attest the drastic decline in ABC membership and general overall interest in bowling to over the last 20 years?

Johnny Petraglia: Not enough support for the professionals of the sport. 20 years ago pro bowlers made similar amounts of money to other pro athletes. Today, there are so many ways to become a millionaire in athletics, parents are pushing their kids into the sport that gives them a shot at being a millionaire. Life is all about dreams and it is just automatic that people go to the biggest dream. I feel that if pro bowlers (men and women) if leading money winner made 7 figures, we would have more junior bowlers then a bowling center could accommodate.

Moreno Valley, ca: Are you still refered to "RAGS" by your PBA friends

Johnny Petraglia: Only the older ones - on the senior tour. The new guys call me other things.

Memphis, TN: What is your advice for my 16 yr old son who is and has been determined to be a pro bowler for several years. He will be heading for Wichita State University soon. Jeri Edwards is his coach. His majors are business/sales & marketing. Talk about the mental game for the younger bowlers with these hopes & dreams. Thanks much from Memphis, TN

Johnny Petraglia: Just tell him he's done everything right. You can't get a better coach or a better college. Jeri is one of the best in the business. 16 is a tough age - you want to be a pro, but you want to have fun. When you are bowling in tournaments, make sure it's still fun.

Auburn, MA: Do you think that the prices of equipment and renting a lane to practice are too high to attract new bowlers?

Johnny Petraglia: Yes that is a big problem. I think there could be a lower fee if all you wanted to do was practice. You would need to leave a certain amount of lanes in a center to attract new bowlers. That would be a wonderful idea. The price is too high.

Moreno valley, Ca: Hi John. Haven't talked to you in about 15 Years. Greg Baderdeen. Talked to Ty Critchlow, he said to tell you hi also.

Johnny Petraglia: Hi and I hope you both are doing great. It would be nice to see you again.

livonia michigan: to what do you attribute your longevity on the pba tour?

Johnny Petraglia: The longevity comes from the love of the game. The game has changed completely from the day I started, but I still love to bowl. It's my life. When all it takes is one good week, one shot of getting on TV, even if it tok two years, is well worth it for the thrill and feeling of bowling in that situation in that kind of pressure. When you get lined up to the point you are bowling so well that you have already thrown a strike you want people to have that feeling just once. It makes you want to go out there and get that feeling again.

Philadelphia, PA: Hi Johnny. Who are some of the promising rookies in the PBA this year??

Johnny Petraglia: Brad Angelo is top rookie on Tour. Great mental game. He never gives up and has only missed one cut. Other young players like Tommy Jones will be a star.

Albany, NY: Mr. Petraglia: I saw in the story that you think heavier pins are needed. How heavy are the pins, and are all pins the same weight in every bowling center?

Johnny Petraglia: Pins now weigh 3-6, 3.8, but they are double voided and made from substances that make them fly. We need single voided (not top heavy) 4 pound pins that can be dead. We have to get rid of springy side boards too.
Pins vary a little bit bowling center to bowling center. Some are still 3.2 and they go to 3.10.

Philadelphia, PA: Is making a living on tour tougher of easier than it was in the Mid 1970's??

Johnny Petraglia: It's getting better, but still tougher because in mid 70s if you had a $70-80,000 year it was a good living. If you make that now the expenses of traveling much higher and the cost of living is higher.

Indianapolis, IN: What book or video would you recommend to help an average bowler to become a 200+ bowler?

Johnny Petraglia: Par bowling by Tom Kourous is still a very good book.

Bloemker, PA: I loved the movie "Kingpin". How accurate was the movie to PBA tour?

Johnny Petraglia: It's not. Kingpin is as accurate as Tin Cup. It's just a fun movie.

Comment from Johnny Petraglia: I'd like to thank everyone for all their comments. Like all of you, I love this game and hope it will grow. I appreciate people like you who take the time to write in questions. With you around, the game will grow. Thanks.

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