Legendary Bowling Journalist, Chuck Pezzano, Has Died

by Gianmarc Manzione 0

UPDATE: Chuck Pezzano's funeral arrangements have been changed in anticipation of the coming snowstorm in the northeast. The new details are as follows:

Wake: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 4-8 p.m.
Funeral Service: Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:30 a.m.

At: Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home
1313 Van Houten Avenue
Clifton, NJ 07013
Telephone: 973-546-2000

Additional information will be available on their website: www.bizub.com

ChuckPWe are receiving reports from multiple sources tonight that Chuck Pezzano, the legendary bowling journalist and prolific author who was a member of both the Professional Bowlers Association and United States Bowling Congress Halls of Fame, has died.

Pezzano was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975 and the USBC Hall of Fame in 1982 for meritorious service. Along with Frank Esposito, Pezzano is credited as a co-founder of the PBA's Regional program, and he served as Director of the PBA East Region for two decades. As recently as one week ago, Pezzano still was volunteering his services as the PBA's official historian. He also served as that organization's secretary and as a member of its executive board.

Pezzano's knowledge of the history of televised bowling was unrivaled, and he himself served in many capacities for various televised bowling productions, including color commentator, coordinator, consultant, and adviser. His many books included The Professional Bowlers Association Guide to Better Bowling; The Family Bowling Book; Bowling Basics, and many others. His weekly bowling column appeared in Hackensack, N.J., newspaper, The Record, for more than half a century. You can read that paper's Pezzano obituary here.

Chuck Pezzano Funeral Arrangements
Wake: Tuesday 4pm- 8pm
Funeral Service: WEDNESDAY 10:30 am
Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home
1313 Van Houten Avenue
Clifton, NJ 07013
973-546-2000
Additional information should soon be available at www.bizub.com

Be sure to check back with us here for further information, which we will provide as soon as it becomes available. Additional coverage will be provided in the March issue of BJI.

OBITUARY FROM THE PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION

Chuck Pezzano of Clifton, N.J., a charter member of the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame and widely recognized as the dean of bowling journalists, died Friday of cardiac arrest while undergoing a stent procedure at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, N.J. He turned 86 on Jan. 14.

Since the formation of the PBA in 1958, no one has contributed more to the organization in so many different ways than Pezzano, a founding member of the organization.

Born in Paterson, N.J., in 1929, Pezzano lived his entire life in New Jersey. After graduating from Rutgers University, he started his writing career with the Paterson Morning Call in 1952 and continued writing for The Record in Bergen County until his death, more than 60 years later. Over the years, he contributed to more than 100 publications round the world and authored or co-authorized more than a dozen books about bowling.

Pezzano first became involved with the PBA as a top-flight competitor. He was the first collegiate bowler in the United States to bowl an 800 series. One of his proudest accomplishments as a bowler was joining his four sons – Charles Jr., Craig, Curt and Clay – as the first father and four sons to bowl 300 games.

But his legacy off the lanes far surpassed his credentials as a player as he evolved into the most prolific bowling writer in history.

In the 1960s, Pezzano and fellow New Jersey entrepreneur/PBA Hall of Famer Frank Esposito created the PBA Regional program, creating a close-to-home, affordable competition arena for thousands of would-be professional bowlers to develop their skills.

He was the first Meritorious Service inductee in the inaugural PBA Hall of Fame class in 1975, and later inducted into the United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Writers Association of America Halls of Fame, among his 12 halls of fames.

In addition to his prolific writing contributions, Pezzano was a television pioneer, working with hall of fame broadcasters Mel Allen, Chris Schenkel, Jack Buck, Brent Musberger, Al Trautwig and others. He worked as a consultant on television, movie and instructional videos, and traveled the country serving as an emcee and guest speaker at hundreds of bowling functions.

Pezzano also was heavily involved in PBA business affairs, running the PBA East Region for 20 years. He was secretary of the PBA Hall of Fame for nearly 20 years, and served as the organization’s official historian for longer than that. He helped open the door for women bowling writers to join the previously all-male Bowling Writers Association of America (which later named its scholarship program in his honor) and he was a lifelong advocate for high school and collegiate bowling. He was actively involved in charitable fundraisers, and worked closely with curator Bruce Pluckhahn in planning exhibits for the “new” International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

When the PBA dedicated its pressroom in his honor in 2011, Pezzano said, “It was Will Rogers who noted that he never met a man he didn't like. I won't go that far but I will say that I never met someone in bowling that I didn't like something about.

“Through bowling I have traveled more than three million miles, visited every state, and places such as Las Vegas and Reno more than 150 times, delved into the history of the sport, learning about the roles of women, minorities, bowling communications and halls of fame. Writing, broadcasting, speaking, serving on special committees (18 hall of fame committees) being involved in major innovations to and for the sport that provide endless fodder for all bowling involvements. The goal always is to just do everything a little better than it has been done.”

Failing health had limited his travel in recent years, but Pezzano never stopped wanting to help.

“Chuck called me a week ago, still trying to help the PBA,” PBA Commissioner Tom Clark said Friday. “He’s an icon, prolific and multi-talented. There will never be another like him. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Pezzano is survived by his four sons, grandchildren Amanda Rose Pezzano and Jarod Charles Pezzano, and brothers Russell and Arnold Pezzano. He was preceded in death by his wife Lila (nee Grosser) in 1983, brother William and sister Joan.

Services are pending.

OBITUARY FROM THE UNITED STATES BOWLING CONGRESS

Chuck Pezzano of Clifton, New Jersey, a United States Bowling Congress and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame member, died Friday at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, New Jersey. He was 86.

Pezzano, who began writing about bowling for a local newspaper while an English major at Rutgers University, would go on to become one of bowling’s most prolific authors. He would write articles for more than 100 publications, authored more than a dozen books and wrote thousands of newspaper columns about the sport.

Pezzano150xBorn in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1929, Pezzano started bowling at age 14 and became one of the top bowlers in his area by the time he was 17. After a short stint in the Army, he attended Rutgers and continued to bowl, posting the first certified 800 series (824) by a collegiate bowler. He also started writing a bowling column three times a week for the Paterson Morning Call, then added a golf column and would later become the paper’s lead sports columnist.

He eventually joined The Record newspaper in Hackensack, New Jersey, and continued a writing career that would last more than 60 years.

While Pezzano was a competitive bowler – he averaged more than 200 for 23 years – he became more involved in the sport including serving as commissioner of the Eastern Professional Bowling League. He was a charter member of the PBA and, in the 1960s, he and future PBA Hall of Famer Frank Esposito started the PBA Regional program.

In addition to running the PBA East Region, Pezzano would serve as PBA secretary for 20 years and become its historian. He was a member of the PBA’s inaugural hall of fame class in 1975, inducted for meritorious service, and the PBA named its pressroom in his honor in 2011.

Pezzano also was involved in the early productions of bowling on television, starting with his work with legendary announcer Mel Allen on Jackpot Bowling. He would later work with hall of fame broadcasters such as Chris Schenkel, Jack Buck and Brent Musberger, and did work as a consultant on TV shows, movies and instructional bowling videos.

He served as president of the Bowling Writers Association of America and was the first American selected to serve as president of the World Bowling Writers. He also served on several hall of fame boards, including the PBA, American Bowling Congress (ABC) and Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC).

He was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame for meritorious service in 1982.

Pezzano is survived by his brothers Russell and Arnold Pezzano, sons Charles Jr., Craig, Curt and Clay, and grandchildren Amanda Rose Pezzano and Jarod Charles Pezzano. He was preceded in death by his wife Lila, brother William, and sister Joan.

IBMA: THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER CHUCK PEZZANO

International Bowling Media Association Hall of Famer Chuck Pezzano died January 23 at 86; and his passing reminds us that bowling, because of people like him, is a sport known and enjoyed today across the globe. That will be his legacy.

"It is with a heavy heart we report that while the bowling world lost an icon this week, the IBMA lost a dear friend and colleague," said IBMA President Joan Romeo.  "Personally I am deeply saddened, as our friendship goes back to our east coast days, over 30 years and it was because of his influence that I became a member of the bowling writer's organization."

To say Chuck Pezzano was bowling's most famous and prolific journalist is the understatement of the century. No one ever has, or ever will surpass the sheer volume of positive publicity he generated for the sport in an incredible career spanning more that 60 years.

Often called the Dean of Bowling Writers, Pezzano earned his stripes starting at the tender age of 19 while a student at Rutgers University. After a two year stint in the U.S. Army, Pezzano majored in English at Rutgers and earned his Bachelors Degree.

As a writer and public speaker, he was a natural. In his junior year, the editor of the Patterson (NJ) Morning Call noticed his talent and hired him to write three bowling columns per week. His column was called Down My Alley; and it was so popular, it led to three golf columns per week entitled Down the Fairways.

Soon after, he was the paper's lead sports writer, turning out five sports columns per week in addition to his three bowling offerings. And all the while he had become one of the top bowlers in his region; the first college student to ever roll an 800 series. He shot 824 in 1951. In 1958, he helped organize and became one of the charter members of the Professional Bowlers Association, and became their historian; a position he held for life. He was also very involved in the short lived National Bowling League, serving as Team Manager of the New York Gladiators team.

His proudest achievements on the lanes, however, revolved around family. Chuck and his four sons, Chuck Jr, Curt, Clay and Craig were the first father and four sons to record sanctioned 300 games. He was also very proud that Chuck, Curt and Clay followed in his footsteps to become captains of their college bowling teams. Chuck Sr. at Rutgers, Chuck Jr. at Pace University, Curt at the University of Miami, and Clay at Bergen College.

Pezzano would often go out of his way to help individuals or groups that needed a friend. Two examples were his work with women's groups and youth bowling. He was the driving force behind allowing women to join the bowling writer's organizations; and he served for many years on the Women's International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame board. In youth bowling, he helped organize the nation's first high school bowling program in New Jersey, and never stopped singing its praises for the rest of his life.

Pezzano also made his mark as the author of more than a dozen books on bowling, and easily more than 10,000 columns, magazine articles and press releases for numerous organizations. He was the king of print journalism, but he was also one of the early pioneers in sports television, working behind the scenes and handling announcing duties.

Pezzano and his close friend Frank Esposito worked with and mentored such famous sports announcers as Mel Allen, Jack Buck, and Pat Summerall, to name only a few; And of course, bowling's most famous announcing duo, Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton Jr. "I worked with more than 70 announcers in one way or another" Pezzano told Stars & Strikes in a 1994 interview.

"Chuck was the consummate bowling journalist," said Burton. "He was an excellent teacher and ambassador, and always did his best to personalize bowling. In my early days on television, he helped me enormously. I got a lot of the quips I used on air from him. He will be missed by anyone who ever met him or read his articles, and that is a lot of people."

Pezzano's fellow journalists knew a side of him we seldom saw in print . . . he loved a good bowling argument, and more than held his own. Pezzano was often seen at bowling events in the company of his bowling brothers - John Jowdy, Dick Evans and Joe Lyou; the "four musketeers" they were affectionately labeled. They loved each other like brothers, and they argued like brothers. Chances are they are enjoying a heavenly but lively discussion right now.

Pezzano often challenged writers and experts, even those he mentored, when he saw something a little differently. Bowlers Journal publisher Mort Luby Jr. and iconic bowling coach Bill Taylor were two of his favorite debate partners.

"Chuck was the most versatile journalist in bowling. He not only wrote newspaper columns, magazine articles and books but he was also active in the electronic media. He worked in TV production for the PBA for many years," said Luby. "No writer knew more about the PBA. As one of its original members, his writings reflected his knowledge and devotion to the sport's most visible organization. He was also a very nice guy. Although we had some ferocious arguments over the years, we remained close friends. He called about two months ago, just to chat."

In that '94 Stars & Strikes interview, Pezzano departed from his usual very positive spin; sounded off about bowling technology, and agreed with Taylor about equipment, but not with his method of seeking change. "I think we should have been tougher on equipment changes when the first dynamic balls started to come out. I think the same thing has happened with pins. I think if Bill Taylor had a better approach with people, he could have really accomplished something for our sport" he said. When Taylor won the prestigious BWAA Rip Van Winkle Award, Pezzano was the first to offer his sincere congratulations.

IBMA Past President Jim Goodwin and Hall of Fame member Joan Taylor were two of Pezzano's students who turned to him often for wisdom and an accurate history lesson.

"I enjoyed our times together at meetings and conventions, and our frequent phone calls in recent years. He was a good friend, mentor, and a walking encyclopedia of bowling knowledge and history," said Goodwin. "I'll never forget his generous spirit and good humor, and how proud he was of all aspects of bowling."

"Chuck always welcomed new writers, and was especially proud when women became leaders in the bowling community or industry. He would cite Pearl Keller being president of the BWAA (Bowling Writers Association of America) as one example. He called me his protégé from Day One and when I started winning awards he said; "Now I'm YOUR protégé." For 60 years he wrote a weekly bowling column. Nobody can come close to that record," said Taylor.

Chuck Pezzano was inducted in 17 Halls of Fame during his career. He deserved every one.

But it is the thousands of lives that he touched and made better that will be his greatest legacy.

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