I was born in Montclair, NJ. but most of my early years were spent in beautiful Hazlet, NJ. There I attended Beers Street School. In late 1972 (I’m talking late December…what better month to move a family than in snowy December) our family moved to Arizona.
Within months of moving to Arizona, I was selected to play the part of Danny in the movie “The Trial of Billy Jack“. My first thought was “I love this state! They ask you to be in movies…” But in reality, they just needed some kid with one hand. Of course, when I heard they needed a kid with one hand I raised my (only) hand and lucked into the part. Full disclosure – The Trial of Billy Jack was/is widely regarded as a poor sequel to the popular 1971 film “Billy Jack”. It is listed in the 1978 book by Michael Medved titled “50 Worst Movies of All Time.” That fact really doesn’t bother me because:
- I did not write it.
- I got paid well for your average 8 year old in 1973.
- Tom Laughlin (Billy Jack) was incredibly nice me and my family.
My first fast forward will take us to 1978. That was the year a good friend of mine named John Pulzato asked me to join a bowling league. I was 13 years old and really never picked up a bowling ball, but by the time I was 16 I won my first state bowling title. That title earned me a spot in the Coca-Cola Nationals in Washington, D.C., my first real trip away from home.
My next fast forward will take us to 1986, which was the first year I bowled in a PBA event, the Tucson Open. I won a spot as an amateur that year and in 1988 (I did not try out in ’87) by winning both entry tournaments. I have a fond memory of ’88 because of a bet I made with a friend who was also bowling in the event. We were both bowling pretty bad and we had no chance to win unless we pulled off a big game. Just for fun, we put a wager of a beer on our next game to make the bad day a little more exciting. He continued his stellar bowling by shooting a 95…and I shot a 300. So I shot the game I needed to win the tournament, but more importantly I won the beer. (Remember, I did attend Beers Street School). While I didn’t fair to well in either PBA Tournament I did gain valuable experience.
My most enduring memory of bowling happened at the Tucson Open in 1990. I started the 6-game block pretty slow, shooting a couple of 180s, but I started to find my shot and by the middle of the third game started to throw the ball real well. My fourth game I shot 227 and my fifth game was a 259, throwing the last eight strikes in a row. I started the final game of the block with the first eleven strikes in a row. I’m sitting there with one shot to go for 300 and 19 strikes in a row total. Right then I looked up and thanked God for allowing me to shoot a 300 game in front of my parents who were in the audience. But there was one problem – the game wasn’t over. Overconfident, I let up on my speed and threw a terrible shot, leaving what is called a Greek Church for a 295. (For those non-bowlers, a Greek Church is when you go through the nose of the pins and get 5 pins total.) If you haven’t heard the collective moans of a few thousand people rooting for you, including your parents…let’s just say you are lucky. However, I will say that remains the biggest lesson I have ever learned and I think about it to this day. I’m glad it happened the way it did.
I have a lot of great memories from my bowling days. My highest finish in a PBA event was second in the 1989 Merced Open on the Regional Tour, and I have cashed on National Tour. However, I could never secure a full time sponsor to stay on tour. With the lone exception of bowling the US Open on a whim in 2001, I have not bowled since 1992. I never bowled to be a league bowler; I only aspired to be on tour. With that possibility fading, so did my desire to bowl.
My last fast forward will bring us to present day. For the last 20 years I have been with Discount Tire. I started just like many of the people who work for us by changing tires. Even when I consider some of the “cool” things I have had the opportunity to do in my life – like being in a movie or turning pro in my sport – I still rank working in a Discount Tire store to be the accomplishment I am most proud of. Busting tires with one hand is my personal “coolest” thing. It’s not easy work even for people with two hands, because you have to “bring it” everyday.
I have had a great time working for Discount Tire and have had many different responsibilities. I’ve worked in the call center of our mail-order division, Discount Tire Direct. I designed our first Intranet site, and I now run our E Business area. I am also on our employee assistance fund committee, the Bruce T. Halle Assistance Fund and designed the site devoted to the fund: bthaf.org.