To: President Donald Trump
From: Dave Petruska
Re: National Bowling Czar
Dear President Trump,
Before President George W. Bush left office in 2009, just as the United States Bowling Congress was settling into its new offices in Arlington, Texas, which is a great state, Texas, a great state, well, except for El Paso. Just kidding, love El Paso, “Remember the Alamo.” It rhymes! OK, OK, I know, I know, just kidding, sometimes the pundits just don’t get my sense of humor and I’m starting to think that I have to put “quote marks” around everything I tweet or write. The Alamo is, of course, in San Antonio, Texas, the state that supported you in the 2016 election, where you put up Yuge numbers, YUGE numbers. Anyway I asked “W” in a column in the Tucson Citizen, the conservative newspaper in Tucson that I worked for, unlike the morning rag The Arizona Daily Star, “The Red Star” as some folks around here like to call it, I asked “W” to do something special while he was still in power.
I felt what America really needed was a National Commission on Bowling, a chance to make American bowling great again, and that I was the man to head that commission. President Obama has no love for bowling and I was fearful that “Lefty,” in both his politics and handedness of course, and I think Lefty is a pretty good nickname for him, don’t you think, although there are some great Leftys I tell you, some great, great Leftys out there, like my brother, Lefty, a great man, great father, great son, great husband, great brother, great friend, Navy veteran, went back to school in his 50s to become a nurse, a great one, the kind of man who makes America great, well, “President Lefty” would shine no light on the sport and I feared that he would actually keep one of his campaign promises and tear down the White House bowling lanes and turn them into a basketball court, so I petitioned “W” to make this happen.
As a proud son of New Jersey, I’m from South River, went to South River High School with Drew Pearson and Joe Theismann, great football players, and Joe was a family friend, and one time when Joe came back to visit after the Notre Dame football season was over my Pop, who was a prankster, put up signs in our parlor – “All-American Joe Sat Here,” All-American Joe Touched This Bookcase,” “All-American Joe Turned This Doorknob” after Joe left the house, and Pop thought that was very funny and luckily my sister, Nancy, who was not amused, headed off Joe, who had forgotten his gloves, before he got back into the house to see the signs, and I cracked wise “a timely interception for our team” and Pop spewed out the sip of Schaefer beer he had just taken and laughed for a minute about it, and Joe probably has never heard this story, but I think he’ll laugh about it now if he does, and, Alex Wojciechowicz, a pro college and pro football hall of famer, he went to SRHS and was one of the “Seven Blocks of Granite” at Fordham University, where you went to college for awhile, so this son of New Jersey that I am was imaging the headlines in the New York tabloids:
The Daily News: The Czar of David: Bush Backs Bowling Brahman.
The Post: Kaiser Role: Prez Picks Pepper Pot Petruska Pingod.
My credentials? Well, I was then, and still am a very true friend of bowling. Have one of your aides do a Google search for AVTFOB on that thing Al Gore did not create, and I mean, the nerve of people taking credit for something they did not do, right. Sad. But if you have your well-paid staff – and man I was just looking at a story about the big bucks they all make –check out AVTFOB, and you’ll get the point.
And I must say I thought it was Yuge, YUGE that you were gonna host a bunch of House Republicans for a bowling and pizza party in the White House lanes, because I know you are a golf guy, but it was just bowling’s luck, like Lucy always yanking the football out from under Charlie Brown, that the get-together was canceled on account of snow conditions. In March. In D.C. Sigh. But I did see some video from back in January that Donald Junior shot of his wife, Vanessa, rolling a shot while in high heels at the White House lanes – not alley as The Hill and other “news sites” called it – and I must say that I thought both Vanessa and her shot were going to go flat, she on the floor because she was bowling IN HEELS!, and her shot was going to be flat in the “channel” – us bowling folks don’t call it the “gutter” – but it hooked back and it looked like she got an eight-count, so good on her.
And we’ve met a couple of times, I can’t remember for sure how many because when you are a celebrity, well, what passes for one in Tucson, who keeps track of that kind of stuff? We met when you owned the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and one time in Tucson when you and future wife Marla Maples came to a University of Arizona men’s basketball game. The Citizen was running an “Ask a Wildcat” story where we had someone in the crowd ask a question of one of the players and then we interviewed that player, and my colleagues, who were great, great people, I know you don’t like a lot of mainstream media folks but these folks working with me at the Citizen were great people, told me I should talk to you, but there was no ring on Marla’s finger, I had great hair then, and you know when you are celebrity …
So, I was hoping Bush would do this as personal favor because, after all, the Petruska family has made some sacrifices, some Yuge sacrifices for the Bush family over the years. And the Bush family, their great people, and “W’s” father was president, too, I don’t know if everyone knows that, but in 2001, “W” gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame University. My niece, Liz, was graduating, and the ceremony ran more than three hours over because of all the security measures.
And when his daughter, Barbara, graduated from Yale in 2004, the Secret Service, and these are top-notch guys, just the best folk, great guys, great women, great Americans, took over Sage Hall, the headquarters of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Liz received a master’s degree that year from Yale, which is a great school, and I’m sure you could have attended Yale, which is in the Ivy League just like your alma mater the University of Pennsylvania, but the ceremony was held outside in a tent instead of inside Sage Hall on account of the Bush family.
But even though that column was Yuge! YUGE!!, the United States Bowling Congress, and those are great people there, just love the people who work there and how hard they work to support this great sport, and the Bowling Proprietors’ of America Association (BPAA) is also in Arlington, right near the amusement park Six Flags America — which I think should be call One Flag America because the six in Six Flags refers to the different nations — Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States, and the Confederate States of America – that controlled Texas, so maybe Two Flags I’d be OK with because I’m OK with the Republic of Texas – the USBC awarded me first prize in the column writing category, and that was Yuge!, YUGE for me, because it was a national writing contest, not just a local thing but with writers from all over America, which is a great country, a great country, it paid $500,000 – well, I might be off by a couple of zeroes on that because it was a while back – and it was the first time I’ve finished in first place in column writing, and “if you ain’t first, you’re last,” as Ricky Bobby says, but I never heard back from “W,” who probably thought “That was some weird s_ _ _.”
So what’s happened since then? The best bowler in the world is an Aussie! An Aussie!! THANKS OBAMA!!! And he uses two hands to bowl!!!! I’ve heard some people call it shovel style. I threw my back out trying to bowl like this Aussie, and the back, you know, that’s a key part of your body, the back is, it really truly is, and your trying to find a doctor to see and nobody knew health care could be so complicated, nobody knew, and I threw my back out trying to throw the ball like this Jason Belmonte, an Aussie, and there are a lot of great Aussies out there, and Jason is a great mate, an ambassador of the game, and I know you’re not a fan of some of the Australian politicians, but I’ve got family members and friends who are Aussies, and they are great, great people. This Jason Belmonte throws it shovel style, they call it, not like the two-handed, between-the-legs style that Tom Haverford used during that fundraiser for Leslie Knope in Pawnee, Indiana, which is a great state, your VP Mike Pence is from Indiana, the Hoosier State they sometimes call Indiana, and Tom was working on a perfect game during that fundraiser when he got an “owie,” so we’ve got to make changes to make American Bowling Great Again.
Just because it’s a national commission, doesn’t mean we have to be in D.C. I told “W” I’d move to Texas if he gave me the job, but I’m happy to stay here in Tucson. I know you are guys are trying to “drain the swamp,” but in Arizona we’ve already drained the entire state! In Tucson, we get most of our water through the Central Arizona Project, a diversion canal, and I know you could use some diversions right now. I’ll even put two ex-presidents I greatly admire on the commission – Rothschild and Roberson. That’s Tucsonans Lowell Rothschild and Walt Roberson, former presidents of the USBC. They can help make those bucks stretch. Lowell, an attorney, has handled many bankruptcy cases, and Walt was the University of Arizona’s director of purchasing from 1975-1985.
And maybe will add Chris Hardwick to our board, the stand-up comedian, actor, television host, writer, producer, podcaster, musician, I mean this guy seems to do everything, am I right? Anyhow, a lot of people don’t know that Chris’ father, Billy, was an outstanding bowler back in the day. Billy won the Triple Crown, and yeah, it’s not just baseball or horse racing that has this, Billy won the U.S. Open, PBA National Championship and the Tournament of Champions in his career and anyway when two years ago the New York Times wrote a story about Chris, and I know you don’t like the Times much, but I noticed you seem to get along with Maggie Haberman at the Times, and I don’t know if they are related but Maggie has the same last name of one of my favorite teachers at Creighton University, Dr. David Haberman, who prefers to be called “Just Good Old Dave Haberman” these days, well anyway the Times wrote this story about Chris Hardwick and didn’t use Billy’s name or Chris’ mother’s name, which is Sharon Hills, and referred to Billy simply as a former pro bowler. Sad. And unfair! I mean, right? If the Times had done a story on Gary Nicklaus and had referred to his father as a former golfer, and didn’t even have the grace to mention his father’s first name, well, all hell would have rained down.
So, where was I? Oh, we’ll set up shop in Tucson and you won’t have to offer an olive branch to the Dems in Tucson because olive trees that bare fruit have been banned in the Tucson area since 1988 because of their contribution to the pollen count, and since the war on coal is over maybe we can take on the war against olive trees, starting growing them here again so that American nightclubs can start serving martinis with great Arizona grown olives.
My original pitch in 2008, and I thought it was a great one at the time, was $733 million. That’s what Boeing got to build border security infrastructure, (“Virtual fence”! That was a good one, huh!) But I know the border wall is going to cost a lot, so I think we can get by with $73 million or so, that is not a Yuge number. There won’t be any political turmoil. We’re not talking immigration reform here. Left-wingers and right-wingers bowl, as do middle-of-the-road left-handers and right-handers. We’ll even help out the candlepin and duckpin bowling industries. Yes, this bowling czar will be a kind and benevolent despot. I’ll have only one rule: No business will be carried out on a golf course! I know you love golf, have a bunch of golf properties, like to talk a lot about golf, which is great sport, a Yuge sport in your mind, but my first thought when I hear BPAA members, and these are great people that support the sport, but when they talk about meetings away from their place of business my first questions is: What, are you ashamed of where you work? How are we going to make American bowling great again that way?
But now I’m going straight back to the text, with some slight editing, of what I pitched to Bush in 2008. I think if I read this off a teleprompter I’d be very presidential. About half of this column has recycled content, and this will not be in print, only on the allsportstucson.com website, so we won’t be wasting any paper, and I think we can get some sort of Green certification for this.
• We’ll help expand junior bowling programs in every state, providing equipment for those who need it free or at reduced costs.
• We’ll add, where space allows, a pair of lanes to any youth center in America.
• We’ll help get bowling recognized as a varsity sport in those states that don’t have programs and grow the sport in states that already sanction it.
• We’ll push more colleges to add bowling teams.
• We’ll help bring bowling centers back to the inner cities and create bowling academies similar to the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California.
Think of all the jobs we’ll create in construction, for bowling equipment makers, for the technicians to service the lanes and help set up the computers for the scoring systems, for coaching and the travel industry, etc.
I’ll use my bully pulpit for a serious lobbying effort to get bowling in the Olympics, to buttonhole sponsors to jack up the prize fund for the men’s and women’s pro tours. We’re not talking PGA Tour money here, but we can do much better. American automobile, oil and beer companies should be ashamed that they are not major sponsors of the bowling tours.
Lobbying the International Olympic Committee isn’t cheap, you know, but c’mon, table tennis and synchronized swimming are Olympic sports, and so is skeleton – better known as riding a sled downhill face first – as opposed to the luge, also an Olympic sport, in which you ride a sled downhill feet first. (I admit, too, I had to look up what skeleton was). And I almost forgot curling, which is basically bowling on ice with the help of a broom, although you can play defense in curling.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. Let’s make American bowling great again.
Dave Petruska, an award-winning writer and editor during his days with the Tucson Citizen, is an occasional contributor to allsportstucson.com