Have drill, will travel: Lichstein ready to roll
The GBT manager keeps the bowling balls ready for action.
By PAUL TRGOVAC
BOARDMAN -- If you happen to pull into the parking lot at Camelot Lanes in the next couple of days, you will notice the trucks on the side of the building from the Generations Bowling Tour.
One of the trucks is the equipment truck where the players can have bowling balls drilled for their use.
The person running the show is a familiar face to the bowlers. His name is Larry Lichstein, and he has been with these pros for close to 40 years.
Lichstein was the Professional Bowlers Association rookie of the year in 1969. In 1974 he took a job as the guy who ran the players' locker room, which was guaranteed money.
"I thought I would take the job, pay off my bills and after a couple of years go back to bowling," Lichstein said. "But then I started to drill bowling balls and overnight the entire tour became my customers."
By 1976, he was making an extra $1,000 dollars a week above his paycheck and decided to not come back to bowl.
"I realized that as a pro bowler you start each week at zero, and if you don't strike you don't eat. I took the guaranteed money."
So for the next 20 years Lichstein became the PBA Player Services Director.
"I bought an 18-wheeler after I got rid of my bus. I drilled 200-300 balls a week, transported some 400 balls for the players, carried the PBA scoreboards, and the ABC platforms for the TV shows," Lichstein said. "The truck had about a 40,000-pound payload, and by the middle 1980s we got a second truck."
Finally, after 22 years and some 880 events Lichstein retired in 1996. He went back to Connecticut before moving to the Florida Gulf Coast where he opened a couple of pro shops.
"When I heard about this tour I was intrigued. I believe in our owner [Steve Sanders], and I wanted to one more time travel with the greatest bowlers in the world, many of whom are dear friends. I knew it would be an opportunity that if I missed it, I would regret it."
Lichstein added that he is charge of the drilling truck for the GBT just as he was for the PBA.
"Steve said he might want me to do other things next year which I will be happy to do, but he also understands just what I can do with my age."
Lichstein also was quick to point out just how well that the GBT has been treated this week at Camelot.
"We have a wonderful host here plus we had a nice crowd this morning [Sunday]. Still we have to make sure we do everything possible we can to make sure that the word of mouth is that our pros spend time with the amateurs, and are personable. That is how we can grow as a tour."