PBA Tournament of Champions Re-visited: George Pappas Wins in 1979

by Jerry Schneider January 13, 2011 03:55

(Editor’s Note: A sports tradition will return to network television when the finals of the record $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions will air live Saturday, Jan. 22, on ABC at 2:30 p.m. Eastern from Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.

Some of the most historic moments in professional bowling, took place in PBA’s signature event. PBA is providing a look back at some of these great moments through re-release of tournament results as they were written by PBA’s media relations staff at the conclusion of the event.

Below is a trip back in time as we re-visit the 1979 Tournament of Champions won by George Pappas).

$150,000 FIRESTONE TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Riviera Lanes, Akron, Ohio, Apr 18-21, 1979

1979 Firestone - Pappas Pockets $30,000

George Pappas captured the biggest PBA crown of his career as he completed a rare wire-to-wire victory over Dick Ritger in the 15th annual Firestone Tournament of Champions, awarding him the prestigious white jacket that goes to all winners of professional bowling's richest event.

Rolling 268 in the opening game of the tournament, Pappas, a 5-9, 135 lb. righthander from Charlotte, N.C., assumed the lead in the first round and led after every round throughout the 48-game event leading to the TV finals.

Pappas averaged 223 while his closest pursuer, PBA Hall of Famer Ritger, who was never lower than third in the tournament, qualified at a 218 pace.

Twenty-time champion Ritger advanced to the final game by defeating Jeff Mattingly after Mattingly had beaten Steve Neff. Neff had opened the TV finals with a tight, 190-187, decision over local favorite Tommy Hudson.

In the championship match, Pappas took an early lead with a pair of doubles but allowed his opponent to pull within nine pins by missing a six-pin in the sixth frame. However, Pappas regained his timing with three straight strikes and spared in the 10th frame to lock out Ritger.

It was Ritger's second runner up finish in the Firestone Tournament of Champions, the first coming in a memorable 1970 title game loss to Don Johnson by a score of 299-268.

For Pappas, a 10-year tour regular who has ranked among the PBA's top 25 money winners in each of those years, it was his sixth title and his first major championship. And for the 32-year-old Southerner, victory was all the sweeter knowing that very soon he was going to be a father for the first time.

"Realizing that now I'll have three people to support really pumped me up," explained George, $30,000 check in hand. "Especially since I hadn't been having a good Winter Tour prior to this tournament."

Ritger earned $17,000 for second, Mattingly $10,000 for third, Neff, in his second appearance in a Firestone T of C finals, made $7,500 for fourth, and Hudson $5,000 for fifth.

TELEVISED FINALS

Pos. Name, City/State Total Amount

1, George Pappas, Charlotte, N.C., 224 (1 game), $30,000

2, Dick Ritger, River Falls, Wis., 423 (2 games), 17,000

3, Jeff Mattingly, Tacoma, Wash., 359 (2 games), 10,000

4, Steve Neff, Sarasota, Fla. ,323 (2 games), 7,500

5, Tommy Hudson, Akron, Ohio, 187 (1 game), 5,000

PLAYOFF RESULTS: Neff defeated Hudson, 190-187; Mattingly defeated Neff, 202-133; Ritger defeatedMattingly, 228-157; and in the championship game Pappas defeated Ritger, 224-195.

48-GAME TOTALS

Name, City Pins Avg WLT + Tot Amt

1, George Pappas, Charlotte, N.C. , 10,729, 13-9-2, 420, 11,149

2, Dick Ritger, River Falls, Wis., 10,495, 15-8-1, 465, 10,960

#3, Jeff Mattingly, Tacoma, Wash., 10,449, 14-10-0, 420, 10,869

4, Tommy Hudson, Akron, Ohio, 10,532, 11-13-0, 330, 10,862

5, Steve Neff, Sarasota, Fla., 10,388, 15-9-0, 450, 10,838

**6, Wayne Zahn, Tempe, Ariz. , 10,219, 17-7-0, 510, 10,729, $4,000

7, Nelson Burton, Jr., St. Louis, 10,136, 18-5-1, 555, 10,691, 3,350

Guppy Troup, Columbia, S.C. , 10,301, 13-11-0, 390, 10,691, 3,350

9, Steve Martin, Kingsport, Tenn. , 10,270, 14-10-0, 420, 10,690, 3,000

10, Gary Dickinson, Ft. Worth, 10,345, 8-16-0, 240, 10,585, 2,900

11, Johnny Petraglia, Staten Island, N.Y., 10,161, 14-10-0, 420, 10,581, 2,800

12, Mike Durbin, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, 10,166, 13-11-0, 390, 10,556, 2,700

13, Bill Beach, Sharon, Pa., 10,179, 12-12-0, 360, 10,539, 2,600

14, Dave Soutar, Kansas City, 10,075, 14-10-0, 420, 10,495, 2,500

15, Mark Roth, N. Arlington, N.J., 10,218, 8-15-1, 255, 10,473, 2,400

16, Steve Jones, Kerrville, Texas, 10,103, 12-12-0, 360, 10,463, 2,300

17, Dave Davis, Hackensack, N.J. , 10,072, 9-15-0, 270, 10,342, 2,200

18, Dick Weber, St. Louis, 10,027, 9-15-0, 270, 10,297, 2,200

19, Louie Moore, Indianapolis, Ind., 9,915, 12-12-0, 360, 10,275, 2,000

20, Jim Godman, Lorain, Ohio, 9,930, 10-14-0, 300, 10,230, 1,900

21, Joe Berardi, Pearl River, N.Y. , 9,890, 8-15-1, 255, 10,145, 1,800

22, Bill Spigner, Hamden, Conn. , 9,845, 9-15-0, 270, 10,115, 1,700

23, Larry Laub, Santa Rosa, Calif., 9,776, 7-17-0, 210, 9,986, 1,600

+24, Jay Robinson, Van Nuys, Calif., 9,624, 10-14-0, 300, 9,798, 1,463

24-GAME TOTALS

Pos. Name, City/State Amount

+25, Fred Conner, Mar Vista, Calif., $1,438

*26, Butch Soper, Whittier, Calif., 1,380

27, Carmen Salvino, Chicago, Ill., 1,350

28, Warren Nelson, Downey, Calif., 1,350

29, Wayne Webb, Rehoboth, Mass., 1,300

30, Kevin Gannon, Long Beach, Calif., 1,300

31, Jimmy Certain, Huntsville, Ala., 1,300

32, Marshall Holman, Medford, Ore., 1,300

33, Fred Jaskie, Greendale, Wis., 1,250

34, Paul Moser, Somerset, Mass., 1,250

35, John Guenther, Seattle, Wash. , 1,250

36, Paul Colwell, Tucson, Ariz., 1,250

37, Emmett Shutes, State College, Pa., 1,200

38, Steve Westberg, Cottage Grove, Ore. , 1,200

39, Matt Surina, Longview, Wash., 1,200

40, Earl Anthony, Kent, Wash., 1,200

41, Mike Berlin, Muscatine, Iowa, 1,150

42, Ed Ressler, Bethlehem, Pa. , 1,150

43, Cliff McNealy, San Lorenzo, Calif., 1,150

44, Roy Buckley, Columbus, Ohio, 1,150

45, Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill., 1,100

46, Frank Ellenburg, Mesa, Ariz., 1,100

47, Curt Schmidt, Ft. Wayne, Ind., 1,075

48, Wayne Chester, San Mateo, Calif., 1,050

49, Don McCune, Munster, Ind., 1,050

50, Don Johnson, Las Vegas, 1,000

51, Steve Cook, Roseville, Calif. , 1,000

52, Randy Lightfoot, St. Charles, Mo., 1,000

*Alternate. ** - TV Alternate. 24-game qualifying leader - Pappas, 5,414. 24th place - Berardi, 5,002. # Jeff Mattingly rolled a perfect game. PRO-AM CASHERS - Fred Conner (2), Earl Anthony, Dick Ritger. BONUS AWARDS - High Game ($250) - Wayne Webb, Johnny Petraglia, Steve Martin, Bill Spigner and Jeff Mattingly. ($125) Louie Moore and Dick Weber, High Block ($500) - George Pappas, Steve Neff, Johnny Petraglia, Steve Martin, Tommy Hudson and Jeff Mattingly. + - Robinson replaced Conner in match play after 32 games when Conner withdrew due to illness. Robinson was penalized 126 pins, and they shared 24th and 25th place money. Robinson received $25 for saving as alternate for one round, and Butch Soper received $50 as the new alternate.

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