Ready, set, ACTION??? Are you for real, where has the action gone? Wait, what is action?
Growing up in the New Jersey, New York area, I heard the stories of action legends from around the tri-state area. Names of such guys as Rudy Revs, Red, Judge, The Horn, Joe S Snake, etc…. these guys were legends of the after hour scene. These lived by the motto “if you have the money, I have the time.” Bowling centers in the tri-state area would be open till the wee hours of the morning having the best of the best on the lanes bowling for what people make in a year. You could have a match for $1,000 a game on the lanes, and have bets of $5,000 in the back. Guys made a living of bowling action. Some legends of the PBA got their start in the local action scene. Guys like Johnny Petraglia, Mark Roth, and Mike Limongello, who by the way are all enshrined in the PBA Hall of Fame today.
Action was a way of life to these guys. As an aspiring bowler, all I wanted to do when I was out of the junior program was go into Brooklyn to Maple Lanes and bowl action. This is a house that has been open for over 40 years and was full of action legends, with the most famous ones being Roth and Petraglia. At age 18, I got a group of guys together and got some cash, and we took the ride into Brooklyn. When I arrived, I saw a group of men bowling on the last 2 pairs in the house. So I went over and started talking to them. I challenged any of them to bowl me for $500 a game, 5 game minimum match. I was laughed at so hard it was embarrassing. The guys that were bowling were bowling for $5 a game. Not $500, but $5.00 a game. I asked the guy, I thought this was a big action house. He replied to me, “the action died here about 15 years ago.” I was heartbroken. Where has the action gone? I searched and searched, asked around, the best I could do was find a house in northern NJ where you could bowl a guy $50 a game. Not for nothing, but if you said to Rudy Revs I’ll bowl you $50 a game, he wouldn’t unzip his bag, then insult you, and walk away.
I understand times are different then they were in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but when Petraglia and Roth bowled action back in the day before they were on tour, they bowled for thousands a game, and that was when thousands were the big bucks. What has changed with the modern day bowler? Honestly, guys I grew up bowling with are great bowlers, but they are missing something. They are missing that mental toughness that the bowlers of yester year had. Bowling has already taken a huge drop in popularity, tournaments, and prize money. So if you don’t have a tournament to bowl on a weekend, how about you challenge a guy, and bowl him heads up in an 8 game match? Why not? If you are willing to go to a tournament and drop $1,500 in brackets and pots, how about you take that money, find someone that you think is equal to you, get the house to put out a tough pattern, so you don’t have to bowl on a carry contest and bowl. With all the social media we have today, the entire world would know if Joe Smith was bowling Jim Jones on Friday night after the classic league for $500 a game, word would get out, people would stay to watch the match. The next week I am sure they would have another match, and another one would get started, bingo, ACTION IS BACK!!!
I remember when the PBA would come into town, whether it be in NJ or NY, the tour guys would look to get a match going, especially in this area because the action scene was so big, and nothing. The only match I can remember in recent years here was Norm Duke bowling 9 games at the US Open, then bowling a guy named Joe Scianna about 20 games in the Bronx later that night, where Duke eventually won about $8,000, that my friend’s is action!! Now the PBA in recent times has tried to bring their own form of “action” with the Chris Barnes Challenge, and the “All In Match” they had this year before the World Series of Bowling. I am sorry, that is not action. I’d love to see the best local guy in the area get a hold of Barnes and tell him, listen, you’re the best shot maker in the world, I have $10,000, what do you want to do? I would love to see Barnes’s reaction. That attitude is missing with the bowlers of the 21st century. Rudy Revs back in the 80s and 90s had that attitude. Rudy would bowl anyone, anytime, anywhere, and he would wipe the floor with them. They would come back and attempt to get even, and would never win. Rudy would even bowl on the opponents terms, and would still win. Who is the modern day Rudy Revs? It isn’t Barnes and I can’t think of anyone that is as tough as Rudy was.
What would your dream action matches be? These are my list of dream matches that will probably NEVER happen in my lifetime:
Rudy Revs vs Pete Weber
Rudy Revs vs Chris Barnes
Rudy Revs vs Mark Roth
And 1 doubles match…. Petraglia & Roth vs Rudy & Norm Duke
Can anyone bring the action back? Who can be the 21st century’s version of Rudy Revs? Action? Anyone, Action???