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Brownswick

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So today I was just doing a little research for the upcoming episode of PRODIGY BOWLERS TOUR, and I discovered something I guess I must have known at some point, but had long ago forgotten.

So to get at the point of this post, I'll pose a trivia question to see if anybody else knows.

The setup:

Most longtime followers of the PBA on television know that the first-ever 300 game bowled on live network television was Jack Biondolillo's 300 game bowled at the 1967 Firestone Tournament of Champions.  But here's something you might not remember.  (I know I didn't.)

The trivia question:  That telecast of the '67 Firestone TOC was also historic for another reason.  Can you name why?


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A strike by AFTRA (America Federation of Television and Radio Artists) prevented Chris Schenkel and Billy Welu from crossing the picket line and broadcasting the event that day. One of the ABC production staff members (Ned Steckel) and PBA member Bob Strampe handled the telecast. In addition, I think this was the first Pro Bowlers Tour stop to be broadcast in color.
themrfreeze

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The AFTRA strike might be the correct answer but I do remember one of the early 300s bowled on TV happened on different pairs of lanes.  One of the lanes on the championship pair broke down so they used the lane to the left of that pair.  That meant the bowlers had to move their ball between ball returns for each shot.  Don't remember which 300 this was but I'll throw that out there just in case I'm right.

Brownswick

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The AFTRA strike and the fact that Schenkel and Welu may not have been on the show could very well be true.  I know Schenkel missed all the 300s prior to McCordic's.  But I'm not sure I would classify their absence from the telecast as reason to consider the telecast "historic."  Different, maybe, but not "historic."

In fact, I'm not sure all that everyone would agree with me that it is historic for the reason I'm seeking.  I mean, you have to be a little bit bowling nerdy like I am to think of this as historical.

But since nobody has it guessed it yet, I'll go ahead and tell you.  Historic or not, I suspect you will at least agree that it is an interesting factoid that, at the very least, is something that has s:rt of gotten swept away in history by Biondolillo's 300 that was bowled on the show.  If Biondolillo had bowled 279 that match, more people might remember that telecast for the reason I'm about to tell you.

The '67 Firestone TOC was the last PBA telecast in which the PBA used its "Round Robin" format to conduct its Championship Round.

Beginning in 1964 and through the '67 Firestone TOC, the PBA used this Round Robin format to winnow the field down to just one player to send up against the tournament leader in the championship match.

It worked like this:

In Match 1, the #4 qualifier would bowl the #3 qualifier.

In Match 2, the LOSER of Match 1 would then bowl against the #2 qualifier.

In Match 3, the #2 qualifier would then bowl against the WINNER of Match 1.

So in those first three matches, each of the three players ranked 2, 3 and 4 in the standings would bowl two matches -- one match against each of the other two players.  This series of round robin matches would produce one of two results.  Either (A.) one player would finish 2-0, one would finish 1-1 and one would finish 0-2, in which case the player who finished 2-0 would advance to the championship match, or (B.) all three players would tie 1-1, in which case the player with the highest pinfall for his two matches would advance to the championship match.

The 1967 Firestone Tournament of Champions was the last telecast the PBA employed this format for its TV finals.

The rest of the 1967 PBA tournament calender was not televised, so there was no "championship round,"per se.  When match play ended, they just handed out the checks.  But The final event of the 1967 calendar, the National Championship, held in December that year, introduced a whole new TV format that we've come to know and love -- the "stepladder" or "stair step" format.

A few weeks later when the 1968 Winter Tour began, this new stepladder format was used for all future PBA TV finals until the new owners of the PBA started monkeying with it in the late '90s.  Fortunately, they eventually came to their senses and returned to the stepladder format for most of their events.  Variety is the spice of life, and I love it when they mix things up, but the stepladder has become such a signature format for the PBA, and frankly, for BOWLING, that I'm glad that they've embraced it once again as the go-to format for most of their tournaments.

I am not sure exactly of the origins of the stepladder format other than the fact that it debuted at the season-ending 1967 National Championship, and then rolled out a few weeks later on the '68 Winter Tour.

What, exactly, was the backstory as to how it came to be is unclear.  I have sent a note to Larry Lichstein, who, I suspect, probably knows.  If he can't tell me, I have a way to get to Carmen Salvino, and I would bet about a year's pay that he would know the backstory.

Whatever it is, I'm determined to find out, as the origins of this format have never really been discussed (that I know of), and I would love to know the details.  I suspect it may have been someone at ABC Television who dreamed it up for the PBA.  But it might have been someone at the PBA who came up with the idea.  Whoever did, it was a stroke of genius, and has certainly stood the test of time.

On this week's episode of PRODIGY BOWLERS TOUR, which we taped earlier today, March 9th after our youth league wrapped up, I dusted off the old Round Robin format with three players bowling a series of round robin matches to winnow the field down to one player to send up against the tournament leader.  And I must say, it produced a thrilling penultimate match, which you'll see when I post the show on Saturday.  Now, I also threw in a few other twists to the format, including the fact that the kids bowled 9-pin no-tap, and I gave them two mulligans to use in each match -- one they could use for themselves and one they could use on their opponent.  It made for some really interesting moments.  But that final match of the round robin that fed the winner into the championship match -- that match was as thrilling as any you will ever see anywhere.

But since I was wanting to sprinkle a few little factoids in about the format and how it came to be set aside in favor of the format that replaced it and has survived to this day -- the stepladder -- I wanted to do a little digging into the facts.

Film at 11.  (Well, Friday.)


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bowler723

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Reply with quote  #5 

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Birthday - January 9th.

High Game (ABC Sanctioned League, April 11, 2006) - 276
High Series (ABC Sanctioned League, April 16, 2018) - 725 (256, 236, 233)
High Average (ABC Sanctioned League) - 192
Bowled 226 in front of Dave Ferraro at his place in Kingston

"He needs three" - Billy Welu
"Trust is a must, or your game is a bust" - Billy Welu / Nelson Burton Jr.
"I wonder if he wants some butter to go with that sweet role" - Randy Pederson "That's back to back jacks" - Rob Stone
bowler723

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Reply with quote  #6 
Look like step ladder format to me....
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Birthday - January 9th.

High Game (ABC Sanctioned League, April 11, 2006) - 276
High Series (ABC Sanctioned League, April 16, 2018) - 725 (256, 236, 233)
High Average (ABC Sanctioned League) - 192
Bowled 226 in front of Dave Ferraro at his place in Kingston

"He needs three" - Billy Welu
"Trust is a must, or your game is a bust" - Billy Welu / Nelson Burton Jr.
"I wonder if he wants some butter to go with that sweet role" - Randy Pederson "That's back to back jacks" - Rob Stone
bowler723

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by themrfreeze
The AFTRA strike might be the correct answer but I do remember one of the early 300s bowled on TV happened on different pairs of lanes.  One of the lanes on the championship pair broke down so they used the lane to the left of that pair.  That meant the bowlers had to move their ball between ball returns for each shot.  Don't remember which 300 this was but I'll throw that out there just in case I'm right.



That was the 300 game shot in 1974. Jim Stefanich

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Birthday - January 9th.

High Game (ABC Sanctioned League, April 11, 2006) - 276
High Series (ABC Sanctioned League, April 16, 2018) - 725 (256, 236, 233)
High Average (ABC Sanctioned League) - 192
Bowled 226 in front of Dave Ferraro at his place in Kingston

"He needs three" - Billy Welu
"Trust is a must, or your game is a bust" - Billy Welu / Nelson Burton Jr.
"I wonder if he wants some butter to go with that sweet role" - Randy Pederson "That's back to back jacks" - Rob Stone
Brownswick

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Reply with quote  #8 

bowler723:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You are correct.  I was wrong.  (I wish I had a dollar for each of the times in my life I've gotten to say that.)

But here's the crazy part:

If you go to PBA.com and click on the MENU, and then choose SCHEDULES, and then select PBA Season Archives, you can then scroll down to the 1967 season.

This is where I got this information -- or MISinformation, if you will.

Their entire 1967 season recap is wrong.  On each page of each tournament's Archived Results, they show the CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND.

There,  you'll find the final standings, 1 thru 5.

First of all, if there are five names in the TV finals, it wasn't a round robin.  The round robin format used 4 players.  They added a fifth player when they switched from the round robin format to the stepladder.  But look closer and on every tournament summary of the Championship Round, they list it as a "Round Robin."

For example, on the season's first event, the Tucson Open, it says, "CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Juni defeated Tuttle, 179-171. ROUND ROBIN: Smith defeated Weber, 206-202; Tuttle defeated Smith, 222-181; Tuttle defeated Glover, 230-226."

You can go through every tournament on the Winter Tour (I did), and each one of them shows it as being a "Round Robin," when the actual games listed are not a round robin at all.  They're a stepladder.

Go to the '67 Firestone TOC and they wrote, "CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Stefanich and Johnson tied at 227 and Stefanich won rolloff, 43-36. ROUND ROBIN: Biondolillo defeated Schissler, 300-216 ; Biondolillo defeated Durbin, 188-181 ; Johnson defeated Biondolillo, 228-172."

I just didn't look closely enough.  There clearly were five names there.  That's the tip-off that I missed.  I saw them call it a "Round Robin."  It wasn't a Round Robin.  It was the stepladder, and what this tells me is, it was NOT the 1967 Firestone TOC where the PBA retired the Round Robin.  They retired the Round Robin TV format after the '66 Firestone TOC telecast, won by Wayne Zahn.

That was the last championship round in PBA history that incorporated the 4-player, round robin TV format.  It was  used for three years, starting in '64 and ending after '66.  The '67 season is when they started using the stepladder.

If you look at all the '67 Winter Tour events on the PBA's website, you'll see that they list the match scores correctly for each tournament, but they incorrectly call it a Round Robin on all the TV finals summaries for the '67 Winter Tour.

This sounds suspiciously like a copy and paste error when they first transcribed this information from printed material to put it on their website when they first put up a website.  No one has probably ever examined it closely enough to notice.  Only a nerd like me would ever stumble into this...and then stumble over it.  LOL!

Get Tom Clark on the phone...

Seriously, bowler723.....you just saved me from making a complete ass of myself on my little show this week.  I've already recorded that part, and now I need to go back and re-write and re-record it.  But you just helped me immeasurably.  I owe you.  Thank you.  Now I won't make an ass of myself.  Well, not this time, anyway.  I'm sure I'll find other opportunities for that.  I always do.  That's a given.

THANK YOU FOR BEING AN EAGLE EYE ON THIS!!!


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Brownswick

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Reply with quote  #9 

It's still an interesting topic to me....the whole question of how the PBA dreamed up the stepladder format and how it came to be.

I have just emailed Carmen Salvino, as I suspect he might be one of the few people alive who might know the backstory of how the stepladder format came to be, and why PBA inserted it in place of their round robin format, which was also unique to bowling at the time.

I als sent a private note to Larry Lichstein, who also might know.  He's something of an unofficial PBA historian, having worked so closely with the organization for so many years as the Player Services guy running the paddock.

Hopefully I'll find out something interesting.


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bowler723

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Reply with quote  #10 
Randy, I hate to kick you while down, but you state:

Most longtime followers of the PBA on television know that the first-ever 300 game bowled on live network television was Jack Biondolillo's 300 game bowled at the 1967 Firestone Tournament of Champions.  

It is true Jack's 300 was the first on a PBA telecast, but it wasn't the first on television. 

On June 22, 1959 Ed Lubanski bowled two consecutive 300 games. The event was televised from Miami and paired him with a female bowler. He bowled and if he did not strike, she would attempt a spare pick-up. She would bowl until she missed a strike. Lubanski bowled strikes for two games and she never attempted a spare. 

I have a DVD of this telecast that I acquired from Lubanski's estate. It was quite a performance.  

__________________
Birthday - January 9th.

High Game (ABC Sanctioned League, April 11, 2006) - 276
High Series (ABC Sanctioned League, April 16, 2018) - 725 (256, 236, 233)
High Average (ABC Sanctioned League) - 192
Bowled 226 in front of Dave Ferraro at his place in Kingston

"He needs three" - Billy Welu
"Trust is a must, or your game is a bust" - Billy Welu / Nelson Burton Jr.
"I wonder if he wants some butter to go with that sweet role" - Randy Pederson "That's back to back jacks" - Rob Stone
hailmaizeandblue

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Reply with quote  #11 
Also about the Eddie Lubanski Double 300 ---- the first game they bowled was not great, and Eddie wasn't lined up. Something changed at the start of Game 2, and he made history. Bowling against Billy Welu, nonetheless. The whole telecast of that is on YouTube.

If history serves me right, the first recorded 300 game was in 1954 by Steve Nagy on Championship Bowling.
Dare

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Reply with quote  #12 
Steve Nagy shot one too before JB

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowler723
Randy, I hate to kick you while down, but you state:

Most longtime followers of the PBA on television know that the first-ever 300 game bowled on live network television was Jack Biondolillo's 300 game bowled at the 1967 Firestone Tournament of Champions.  

It is true Jack's 300 was the first on a PBA telecast, but it wasn't the first on television. 

On June 22, 1959 Ed Lubanski bowled two consecutive 300 games. The event was televised from Miami and paired him with a female bowler. He bowled and if he did not strike, she would attempt a spare pick-up. She would bowl until she missed a strike. Lubanski bowled strikes for two games and she never attempted a spare. 

I have a DVD of this telecast that I acquired from Lubanski's estate. It was quite a performance.  


I think Randy still has a chance to be correct because he wrote "...bowled on live network television..."

Was the Miami event on network TV or local TV?  My guess is that it is likely the latter case.

Randy should know about this because it is on another of his YouTube channels:

Brownswick

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Reply with quote  #14 

We're getting a little bit deep into a questiuon of semantics here.  But here's the chronology of the earliest 300 games on TV as I know it:

Jack Biondolillo's 300 in 1967 was the first 300 on live, network television.  (Which is what I said.)  But it wasn't the first televised 300 game.  Not by a long shot.

Neither were Ed Lubanski's back-to-back 300s in Miami in 1959.  Lubanski's were rolled on a local Miami telecast.  It does remain the one and only time anyone has rolled back-to-back 300 games on television -- live, pre-recorded, local, national or network.  But it still wasn't the first time a 300 game was televised.

In 1955, Stan Gifford rolled a 300 game on Championship Bowling in a match against Ed Brosius.  (Funny, but I was just watching it last night.)  But the Championship Bowling series wasn't live, it was filmed (in its later years, it was videotaped, not filmed, but in all its iterations, it was pre-recorded, not live), and Gifford's 300 game was still not the first televised 300 game.  In fact, it wasn't even the first 300 game televised on Championship Bowling.

Steve Nagy rolled the first 300 game on Championship Bowling in 1954 against Ed Kawolics.  As I mentioned earlier, Championship Bowling was a filmed series, and the shows were distributed nationally through syndication.  So this was the first national telecast of a 300 game.  But it wasn't LIVE, and it still wasn't the FIRST televised 300 game.

The first 300 game bowled on live television was rolled by Grazio Castellano of Brooklyn, NY on October 4, 1953 during an Eastern All-Star league session in Newark, NJ.  Steve Nagy actually mentions Grazio Castellano's televised 300 game in his post-game interview with Whisperin' Joe Wilson on Championship Bowling following his televised 300 game in 1954.  But I can't find much more about Castellano's 300 game online.  Not sure exactly why a "league session" would have been televised.  But back in 1953, broadcasters didn't need much reason to televise anything.  They were looking for content to fill the air time, and bowling and boxing were two sports that were readily available and fairly easy and inexpensive to televise.

I was careful to couch my words about the Biondolillo 300.  It was certainly the first 300 game bowled on ABC-TV's Pro Bowlers Tour.  But that also made it the first one bowled on "live, network television."  Championship Bowling was national, but it wasn't a network, it was syndication.  I guess I should have said, "...in America."  I don't know for sure if these American telecasts were the first 300s televised in the world.  It's possible, I suppose, that a 300 game might have been televised in another country even before Grazio Castellano's 300 game, but I doubt it.  I mean, America was the only country in the world with television for a while, and TV didn't come along until just a few years before Castellano's 300 game.  But to be honest, I really don't know the history of televised 300 games that originated in other countries.  That might make an interesting historical study of its own.  It might also make for a very short one, as I do not recall ever hearing of one.   But now I'm opening myself up to being corrected.  Again.   ;-)

 

Quite honestly, my only interest in this little trip down History Lane was spawned by the fact that on the PRODIGY BOWLERS TOUR episode we taped on Saturday (two days ago), because we had a small field (just four kids), I dusted off the old PBA "Round Robin" TV format.  I thought it might be fun to expose it to a whole new generation of bowlers and give them a little history lesson.  As I was writing the opening to the show, I wanted to show what I could of the old Round Robin format.  In doing my research, I discovered this reference to Round Robin matches and noticed that all the '67 Winter Tour events were lislted on PBA's website as having Round Robin matches.  And that got me digging deeper, eventually leading me to this incorrect conclusion (thanks to the mistakes on PBA's website) about the '67 TOC.  I've already produced the opening to the show, which, thanks to bowler723, I will now have to scrap and start over, rewriting it, re-voicing it, and re-editing it.  It'll add about six hours to the job of producing this week's PRODIGY.  But I'm sincerly glad bowler723 caught it and told me I f**ked up, because I'd much rather make the mistake here than commit the mistake to the final edit of the show.  The viewers of the show probablly wouldn't have noticed the mistake.  But if I found out after releasing the show, it would have driven me bat sh*t crazy.  I *HATE* making dumb mistakes that I should have caught.  So I truly am grateful for this forum and for bowler723 for bringing the error to my attention.  I'd MUCH rather find out now than after I'd finished and released the show...with the mistake left in.


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bowler723

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Reply with quote  #15 
Thanks Randy for the history lesson about televised 300 games, much of which I did not know.

A question:

What is the earliest known SURVIVING televised 300 game?

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Birthday - January 9th.

High Game (ABC Sanctioned League, April 11, 2006) - 276
High Series (ABC Sanctioned League, April 16, 2018) - 725 (256, 236, 233)
High Average (ABC Sanctioned League) - 192
Bowled 226 in front of Dave Ferraro at his place in Kingston

"He needs three" - Billy Welu
"Trust is a must, or your game is a bust" - Billy Welu / Nelson Burton Jr.
"I wonder if he wants some butter to go with that sweet role" - Randy Pederson "That's back to back jacks" - Rob Stone
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