Cover image for Pin action : small-time gangsters, high-stakes gambling, and the teenage hustler who became a bowling champion
Title:
Pin action : small-time gangsters, high-stakes gambling, and the teenage hustler who became a bowling champion
Author:
Manzione, Gianmarc.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Pegasus Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pegasus Books, 2014.
Physical Description:
xiii, 226 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Summary:
Most of us think of bowling as a "sport" in quotation marks, and bowling alleys are places with disco balls, matching shirts, and funny shoes. But in the 1960s, New York City was the center of "action bowling", a form of high-stakes gambling in which bowlers--often teenagers--faced off for thousands of dollars every night. When money like that is changing hands, you can bet the pressure is on (and the balls are rigged), and losses come with dire consequences. But for a few kids, the world of action bowling would turn out to be a ticket off the mean streets and onto the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. For Ernie Schlegel, it would be a chance to shed his hustler ways and become a bonafide champion.
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9781605986456
Format :
Book

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Central Library GV902.S35 M36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Audubon Library GV902.S35 M36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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East Delavan Branch Library GV902.S35 M36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Grand Island Library GV902.S35 M36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Hamburg Library GV902.S35 M36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Julia Boyer Reinstein Library GV902.S35 M36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

Most of us think of bowling as a "sport" in quotation marks, and bowling alleys are places with disco balls, matching shirts, and funny shoes. But in the 1960s, New York City was the center of "action bowling", a form of high-stakes gambling in which bowlers--often teenagers--faced off for thousands of dollars every night. When money like that is changing hands, you can bet the pressure is on (and the balls are rigged), and losses come with dire consequences. But for a few kids, the world of action bowling would turn out to be a ticket off the mean streets and onto the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. For Ernie Schlegel, it would be a chance to shed his hustler ways and become a bonafide champion.

For the more than 100 million bowlers worldwide and for fans of timeless sports histories, Pin Action captures the underbelly of 1960s and '70s New York and tells the true story of how the most notorious action bowler of all time became a Hall of Famer. Set in the gritty, flashy, lost world of action bowling, Gianmarc Manzione tells an epic tale filled with seedy characters, uproarious eccentricities, improbable twists of fate, and a rags-to-riches narrative so crazy it has to be true.


Author Notes

Gianmarc Manzione is the most recognized writer in the bowling industry today. He has written on the subject for the New York Times and all of the bowling industry's highest-profile publications. Manzione fell in love with bowling as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, where he spent so much of his childhood in local bowling alleys that he was virtually raised in them. Manzione currently teaches English and creative writing at the College of Central Florida, and lives with his wife near Tampa.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Mention bowling today and three things come to mind: family fun, coworker leagues, and a niche professional sport. So, a book about bowling? Zzzzzz, right? Nope. Manzione, editor of Bowler's Journal, takes readers back in time to the rough-and-­tumble, action-heavy bowling environment of New York City from the fifties into the seventies. It's known as action bowling, and it's a bowling version of the pool world portrayed in the movie The Hustler. The best print ­comparison is David McCumber's 1997 Playing off the Rail, a participatory exploration of the pool hustle. Manzione covers a lot of ground and profiles a number of colorful characters, but Ernie Schlegel, a blue-collar action bowler, dominates the book. Schlegel began hustling as a kid, showing up at an alley where he wasn't known. He'd lose a couple games, intentionally looking mediocre. Then he'd sucker a mark into a game with some money on the line. It was easy money for a teenager. But Schlegel's action bowling the whole scene, really was of interest to the Mob. Where there's action, there's gangsters. A good part of the book focuses on Schlegel's move into the Professional Bowler's Association tour, where he subsequently won a number of tour events, including American Bowling Congress Masters in 1996 at age 53. Manzione lays bare a world to which most readers will have had little exposure. But he brings that world alive with vivid prose and razor-sharp characterizations. A superb sports memoir.--Lukowsky, Wes Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

The action of the title refers to "action bowling," in which bettors gamble on head-to-head match-ups. Action bowling was most popular in New York City and the Northeast around the same time bowling was booming in the U.S.-the 1950s and '60s-and, though it took place in the same alleys where families bowled, it was a late-night affair. Manzione, a native of Brooklyn, action bowling's capitol, paints the scene of these late night battles and the hustlers, gangsters, murderers, gamblers, and characters, such as Joe the Kangaroo, Fish Face, Ox, and Bernie Bananas, who haunted these smoky alleys from dusk to dawn. While the mayhem and debauchery of action bowling is the central to the first part of the book, Manzione later turns his focus to Ernie Schlegel, a great bowler with a hot temper and a hustler's spirit who tried to make it on the straight and narrow in the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. Manzione's account of eccentric people, colorful places, and once-popular pro sport is a strike. (16 pages of color photos). (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Manzione (editor, Bowlers Journal International and Bowlers Journal Interactive) displays his love for the sport in this fast-paced biography of champion bowler Ernie Schlegel, who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. The author offers a look into the sub-rosa world of "action bowling," whose practitioners had as much in common with Minnesota Fats and other famous pool hustlers as they did with bowling greats Don Carter and Dick Weber. Many action bowlers arrived at dead ends but others made the jump onto the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tour, which offered legitimate success and safety from the fists, guns, and knives of opponents who didn't savor defeat in high-stakes matches and the mobsters who lost bets on them. The volatile and flamboyant Schlegel was denied entry into the tour for a protracted period because he stabbed a fellow bowler during such an altercation, and once he was admitted, suffered a years-long drought before winning his first championship. But perseverance paid off, and over the years he earned a place in the PBA's Hall of Fame. VERDICT This well-researched account is for those who remember the glory days of bowling. Others will be fascinated by the gritty side of the sport, which few knew existed.-Jim Burns, formerly with Jacksonville P.L., FL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 A Fish in Philadelphiap. 1
2 The Guns of Avenue Mp. 29
3 Centralp. 55
4 The Road to Buffalop. 91
5 The Bicentennial Kidp. 116
6 The Gorillas of Vancouverp. 140
7 Shrugging off the Monkeyp. 158
8 The Last Great Action Matchp. 169
Epiloguep. 193
Acknowledgmentsp. 205
Notesp. 215
About the Authorp. 226

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