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Lou Campi

Sport: Bowlingl

Born: March 23, 1905

Died: August 31, 1989

Town: Dumont

Luigi Campi was born March 23, 1905, in Verona, Italy. Lou grew up playing bocce as a boy, developing a finish to his throws that he would bring to bowling after his family moved to Bergen County. Instead of sliding to the foul line with his left foot, he slid with his right, earning the nickname Wrongfoot Louie.

CampiVaripapaLou refined his game during the Depression in small tournaments in the NJ-NJ area, as well as one-on-one competition, and by the 1940s was drawing crowds wherever he bowled. In 1947, Lou and Andy Varipapa (left) won the national doubles title against Therm Gibson and George Young. They repeated as champions in 1948.

With the advent of television in the late-1940s, bowling became one of the most popular televised sports. In 1948, Lou appeared on a show broadcast from Bowl-Mor Lanes in New York City that pitted an Eastern bowler and a Western bowler. He won every match in the 13-week series, elevating to superstar status.

Lou continued to win titles in his 50s. He was a member of the Faber Cement Block team, bowling with Italian-American stars Lindy Faragalli, Tony Sparando, Frank Esposito, Graz Castellano and Chuck Pezzano. At age 50, he rolled a 300 game during the BPAA All-Star Tournament—one of six in his career. In 1959, the PBA held its first official event in Albany. Lou was a charter member of the organization and, fittingly, won that inaugural tournament, the Empire State Open.

Lou was a fixture at Paramus Lanes and co-owned a bowling alley in Newburgh, New York. He was enshrined in the ABC Hall of Fame in 1968. Lou lived in Dumont for most of his adult life, and passed away there in 1989 at the age of 84.

 

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