Bowlers Journal At 100 By Mort Luby Jr. (Part 9 in a 12-Part Series)
FAWNING: IT WAS NOT BJ’S STYLE
AFTER THE MALAISE of the mid- and late-1960s, the U.S. bowling industry began to perk up again. The PBA continued to generate huge ratings on the ABC-TV network, keeping bowling fi rmly in the public eye. Although bowling began to falter in some international markets, particularly in Japan, cheap used equipment began fl owing from overseas into America, triggering the construction of new centers.
As advertising revenues began to rise again, I felt we might be able to aff ord a full-time editor again. The job became something of a revolving door as inept editors came and went. I fi nally got a call from Jim Dressel in Philadelphia, who assured me that he could shape up the mag- azine.
I knew Jim because he had written several excel- lent freelance stories for us. He’d also run the BJ
Mort Luby Jr.
Women’s Championships, an assignment that proved he had patience and endur-
ance. (I’ve always said that running one of the BJ tournaments is one of the toughest jobs on earth. Dealing with contentious bowlers, handling mountains of cash and laboring into the wee hours for months on end is a mettle-testing chore. How Pat Holseth managed to run our men’s tournament for nearly four decades — and still stay reasonably sane — is be- yond my comprehension.) Dressel settled into the edi- tor’s chair and promptly shook up the bowling establishment.
Until he arrived on the scene, most bowl- ing journalism had been remarkably com-
pliant. Bowlers, industry leaders and asso- ciation offi cials rarely suff ered a negative mention in any industry magazine. Bowlers Journal had published some careful criti- cism and even a few fi ery denunciations, but we probably erred on the side of ac- commodation over the years. Other bowl- ing periodicals were absolutely fawning. That wasn’t Dressel’s style. He soon en- raged just about every executive in the industry with exposes, revelations and un- seemly digging into their previously sacro- sanct aff airs. My telephone rang constantly with sputtering industry leaders demand- ing his ouster. He is still around after more than three decades and numerous awards. He may still be the raging bull of bowling journalism, but we rarely hear a complaint anymore.
EVERYTHING BOWLING, ALL THE TIME
Before Jim Dressel was hired as Bowlers Journal’
s editor, he served as
tournament director of the BJ Women’s Championships.
Dealing with bowling leaders has been a challenge for industry journalists since Genesis. Although it’s a huge industry that generates some $20 billion in annual rev- enues worldwide, bowling is largely a fi rst- name business. Corporate presidents and association managers mingle easily with bowling’s hoi polloi at tournaments, meet- ings and conventions. Bowling people may be congenitally approachable, but some among our leadership have been highly sensitive to the smallest crumb of criticism. Our company’s relationship with BPAA has seen a remarkable metamorphosis. When I attended my fi rst BPAA annual convention in 1953, I was barred from all of the meetings. Mostly, I hung around the bar of the host hotel and gleaned snippets of information from loose-lipped conven- tioneers. Later, I acquired a friendly spy — a proprietor from Florida — who would take copious notes during the meetings. We’d meet in his hotel room on the fi nal day of the convention, and he’d recite the doings of the group and put them in proper con- text.
When he retired, I took to hiding in clos- ets and lurking behind backstage sets with my little spiral notebook. My resulting cov- erage of the BPAA conventions infuriated long-time Secretary Howard Seehausen and his brigade of offi cers. Bowlers Journal and Bowling Proprietor, BPAA’s then-offi cial magazine, battled furiously for shares of
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