Bowl Opinion- January 2017
By Jim Goodwin
When a writer gets to a certain age and
has been around for more than a while, it becomes a responsibility to remember the past and offer a perspective that younger writers, and readers, may find interesting. I’m really not sure how one knows when they have reached that age and experience; perhaps simply when they start to think that some significant events may be forgotten, or that maybe others may have seen things
a little differently.
As a younger writer, I marveled at how easy some of my peers in bowling made the art of writing seem. People like Chuck Pezzano, Jim Dressel, John Archibald, Dick Evans, Don Snyder, and a few others could wear out a keyboard in a short time.
Pezzano was and probably always will be considered the Dean of bowling journalists. In addition to his daily and weekly columns for east coast newspapers, he wrote countless magazine articles, movie scripts, television copy, and a dozen or so books, most of them in the instructional category; some on his own, others co-written with stars of the sport. And all the while, he served as the official historian and a few other roles for the Professional Bowlers Tour in its glory days.
Dressel’s career with the Bowlers Journal lasted 38 years, and from the day he started in 1975, he enjoyed his unofficial role as bowling’s best watchdog reporter. He pulled few punches in all those years, and was lucky that boss Mort Luby Jr, a very good writer in his own right, had his back. Dressel would write as honestly as he could, and Luby would sometimes catch hell from the subject of the piece. Mort often shared that those who called him in anger always thought they did not deserve Dressel’s dose of opinion, but they almost always figured out that he knew what he was talking about; and more of- ten than not, made positive changes as a result.
To be fair, it must also be said that Dressel was often the first to praise good work by good people from all corners of the industry, and many of his subjects have been on both sides of the fence. He created bowling’s BJI Cyber Report because he wanted to share his information and opinions on a timely basis, and the weekly email that almost everybody in the business has come to rely on is perhaps his greatest achievement.
Pezzano and Dressel were often seen as opposites. Pezzano learned a lot of public relations skills from his friends Bud Fisher and Frank Esposito, and wanted everyone to like him; and they did. Dressel just wants to be seen as an honest writer who tells it like it is, and never spent much time thinking about who liked him or not. For many years, the two were rivals, but each had a lasting admiration for the other; and in the few years before Pezzano passed away, they shared several friendly conversations.
My writing style has been influenced by both of these great bowling scribes, but most would probably say that I lean a little more in the Dressel direction. I think that is prob- ably true because when you own the publication you are writing for, you don’t have to worry about your boss coming after you if somebody does not like your words. Ownership also means that you are the one who has to take the heat, and we have been down that road a few times, but not as often as some may think.
Writers like Dick Evans, John Archibald, and Don Snyder did most of their work for major newspapers, so they really had to stay on their toes. They also had the advantage of having good editors to polish their stories and check their facts.
Evans covered bowling for the Miami Herald, Archibald for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Snyder for the Los Angeles Times. Young people reading this are probably surprised to hear that such big papers ever had bowling coverage.
All three covered other sports as well, but bowling was very special for them. They were very active in the Bowling Writers Association of America, and they won just
about every award available, including Hall of Fame status.
There were a few other writers who worked for daily newspapers, but these three stood out because they had such long careers covering bowling; and because they spent so much of their time away from the job in several bowling circles.
A few women also had decent careers as bowling writers. Pearl Keller was one of them. She was encouraged by her great friend Chuck Pezzano, and when not writing, she operated a very successful tournament group for women call the Women’s All Star Association. WASA ran for many years in the northeast.
Eileen Sherman covered bowling for years for the Houston Chronicle, and like Keller, was also involved in Women’s International Bowling Congress work. She was very outspoken, and held her own in any bowling discussion with her male peers. If I had to pick the best female bowling writer, however, my choice would be Joan Taylor Schleiwenz. I think Joan still writes about bowling in the New Jersey Daily Record, and she has written numerous articles for many bowling papers and maga- zines, including this one. Joan always has a bright outlook (probably learned from her mentor Chuck Pezzano) and she truly loves the sport. She even got married at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.
Actually, I am surprised that more women have not been more involved on the national level. Many are very active in state and local associations, but very few have cracked the good ‘ol boy network. Maybe the new social media trend will bring them out, and I hope it does, because writing is certainly a genderless profession where anyone with ability and a willingness to work can find success.
How will future bowling writers record history? I hope it goes well beyond Twitter. Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine. www.starsandstrikesbowling.com