59 & 60
Hey Butch I’m going to play a little game with you and your readers. This one is called 59 and 60. These numbers have a special meaning in the action world.
To me and the guys I was with those numbers mean money. To others they mean pain.
I’m hoping the guys that figure this out come forward and vouch for me. I know a few definitely will. We are talking mid-eighties through early nineties. We are in Queens, NY late Friday and Saturday nights. Guys like The Cane, The Count, The Snake, Cheese, O.K, Carvel, Roxy and others were all there all the time.
The action at this place was always strong. There were 180 bowlers and 220 bowlers roughing it up all night long. The alley manager used the combination to the house safe for ammunition a few times!! For many that’s a dead giveaway for the location.
We went down every week specifically with one guy in mind. We hoped and prayed he could find yet another backer for us to bust out. Yeah as good as he was he never had any money of his own to bet. Sure enough around 2 am each week he strolled in aching to give us his backer’s cash. He always obliged, always.
You may know the house. Not many had 60 lanes. Some of you already are laughing out loud because you know what I’m talking about. Others who tried to forget the weekly beating will reluctantly nod in agreement. And some will same I’m full of it. You know somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. In this case though we NEVER lost.
Now don’t say that’s impossible, remember I’m talking 59 & 60 only. I hope he has the humility to tell the truth. Even if he doesn’t you will get many to verify this as a true story. It’s amazing how we try to forget the pain and hope we aren’t reminded about it. Sorry, but if you want the glory you have to take the pain too.
These were 2 of the best action bowlers ever!! But if life existed on 59 & 60 only, one of them would be the “King” the other well you know what I mean. I’ve said enough. Where were we? Who was the Manager? Who were the bowlers?
More to come……..
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Butch thank you for allowing me the time to talk about who many consider to be the greatest action bowler of all time- Richie “The Horn” or “The Hornet” Hornreich. Now remember I’m 60 years old 8 years younger than Richie. I saw him many times traveling with my uncles to Leemark, The Strand and Central, but I was very young then. Not that I didn’t understand what was going on, just didn’t have any money to bet with!!
When Richie came back from Vegas in the mid-seventies, I’m the guy who put him back in action. I set up matches all over New York and New Jersey for him. We went all over bowling in tournaments which were never his cup of tea. I thought it was a good idea to have all the new guys and the guys his age see he was not the same bowler he used to be. We got easier matches with lots of guys who wanted Richie’s name on their resumes. Even though he was a shell of his old self, he was still the best 10th frame, strike for the “wheat” bowler I’ve ever seen.
I have a lot of great stories on the action trail. I’ll tell you one. If you like it I’ll post as many stories and you want to hear. Most of them are about the “Horn”, but not all. I’ll tell you stories about Bobby Spallone (I was his best man), Joe “Snake” Lorenzo and other guys I went to the action 3 nights a week for 15 years. I’ve never seen this story posted about Richie, here goes:
It’s me, Richie & Bobby Simonelli Sr. Richie was talking to Davey May (another real good action bowler), and Davey tells him about a major league where he’s living at the time in Worcester, MA. Now Worcester is on the Connecticut border, so maybe 200 miles, 3 to 4 hour drive. League is on a Friday night. Davey tells us the action is super and the bets are minimum $1,500 a game. He’s bowling in the league and he will give us the heads up when we get there. If you know Davey this whole thing is either a score or a setup. Bobby Sr. makes some calls and finds out the place is for real, the lanes are tough and the action after league play is strong. Okay road trip.
We leave Friday evening around 7 pm. League ends at midnight. We will be there 10 or 11 pm, more than enough time to be ready without unnecessary attention. You have to remember any bowling alley you walk into anywhere in the country, somebody knows or has heard of Richie. That usually means we get the best bowler in his house probably on his best pair. Beat him 2 straight and we made a long trip for short money!!
Well Richie is great at bowling, he sucks at everything else. He screws up Davey’s directions. He gets the name of the bowling alley wrong. There is no navigation, no cells phones and no lights on the roads we are on. Finally we get Davey on the house phone from a pay phone and get to the bowling center at 12.45. I don’t recall the name of the place, Richie thinks it was Colonial Lanes? Davey is disgusted because just about everyone left. There are a few matches going for peanuts and pot games for $50 a pop. The only real bowler in the house is the owner’s son who is probably the best bowler in the place, the last guy we want to bowl because beating him kills any future action.
Davey pulls me aside and asks me if I want to invest some money and collect it next week. I know where he’s going and it’s a great idea as long as we can trust Davey which is coin flip. What we are going to do is bowl the house kid and lose to him. Now this is like that pool movie with Paul Newman. You want to lose kid? Fine do it the right way. Your man Iggy Russo was the best at this. He could chop the 4 off the 7 any time he wanted to. You know miss close enough that it looks like your just good enough to lose.
Richie bowls the kid and we come down 6 or 7 games. I leave over $5,000 on deposit. Now we have to hope Davey didn’t set us up for the return trip. Well Butch he didn’t. We cancel a few weeks then show up 3 weeks later. Bobby Sr. can’t make it. That was a good thing because he was broke anyway! Richie brings Joey Molina (from Bay Ridge Lanes) with us. He comes heavy and he’s a real tough dude. The entire league is eyeing us and whispering the “Suckers” are here. We ignore Davey but we know we have to take care of him if we win. The games Richie bowled a few weeks ago started at $500 and we lost the last two for $1,500 each. We are hoping to jump out at $1,500. Well we were wrong. A guy in his sixties, well dressed, calls Richie over and tells him if we bowl the kid they will bet $1,000 a game max. If we bowl his guy they will cover anything we bet up to $5,000 a game. Richie asked the guy one question and then we laid the match out. “Is he a lefty because I won’t bowl any lefties”? No he’s righty. Okay, it’s your house so this is what we want:
Not bowling on league lanes
Pick for lanes
Can’t quit until your 5 games down. Usually that would be 3 games but we came a long way
Can switch pairs if your 3 down or if both agree
No foul lights
Bet for next game is at least same or bigger than last game
Now there was one more condition. And when there was real action, I mean big cash action you better believe all of this was worked out BEFORE anyone even got their shoes on. This was a huge part of action no one talks about. You know why Butch? Because they were bowling for peanuts. No real action guy is going to lose 2 games and see the bets decreased because the money was coming from the back not from the bowlers. Don’t believe guys didn’t quit after losing 1 game taking shots at your bankroll. It happened all the time. There were quite a few fist fights over it. It still happens. You can’t force anyone to bet money they don’t have. I know what I was risking. I had a reputation of not quitting until 3 down minimum. You have to put the money on the table if you want my action.
Oh, the last condition of the match. There’s an old action saying “Match starts outta the bag”. You know what that means right. No practice. You will never see that these days. This was a huge edge for us. The league shot was different from the house shot he just bowled on. Davey told us the non-league shot was a dead gutter shot. By the way “The Horn” was deadly of the 1 or 2 board. That was his best shot!! So now you know what we are doing right. $5,000 out of the bag! You tell me Butch who has the edge now? Before they even knew what happened they are stuck $15,000. This guy starts the first game with 3 opens. Swearing and cursing at his backer about the rules we put in. By the way in the 3rd game, the real swing game, Richie needs a strike to shut this guy out in the 11 box. He fouls on purpose and smashes the rack 10 in the pit. I pick up the money, everyone is screaming he fouled he fouled. I said talk to the guy in the suit. We told him fouls don’t count.
Action was so much more than just bowling. It was a mind game. A well placed comment, having the right hot looking girl with you, knowing how to get under some guys skin, stalking the pace, re-racking bad head pins. I never read about any of these things. Action was the ultimate mind game. I loved it, I don’t anymore because the equipment can overcome big errors. That was never the case. Richie was rarely out of any match because it was hard to string strikes and he was such great spare maker.
By the way we took close to $30,000 out of that house. We never went back there because I’m sure they found out who Richie was eventually. I ran into Davey May a few years later in Elk Grove, IL at the American Dream Classic. If you like my style. I’ll tell you that story.
This will be an ongoing series of action stories by Ronny Carroccio – check back often, Butch
Butch, What’s up brother – If Ronny Carroccio is giving u info on the action listen to him cause he was the one from our click, and even before to bet more than anyone, including Jamsie. He was best friends with Hornet and then Spallone – Rocky Salemmo
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