SI Vault
 
It's pat-ently confusing
Douglas S. Looney
June 30, 1980
Two of the top winners on the women's pro tour happen to be named P. Costello
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
June 30, 1980

It's Pat-ently Confusing

Two of the top winners on the women's pro tour happen to be named P. Costello

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

Several women bowling pros were sitting around the coffee shop at the Mundelein (Ill.) Lanes last week, laughing about the mother who worried over the lack of development of one of her twins—until she discovered she had been feeding the other six meals a day. Such small cases of misidentification are good for a big reaction among members of the Womens Professional Bowlers Association, because these days their tour is a source of similar confusion. Two of its stars—in fact, a case can be made for saying its two stars—have the name Pat Costello.

P. Costello vs. P. Costello is an identity crisis of the first order. They're not related, but both have the middle name Ann. They're both 33 years old. In the WPBA's seven tournaments this year, P. Costello and P. Costello—just two of about 80 entrants in each event—have finished next to each other three times.

The pinnacle of double vision came a few weeks ago when P. Costello won a $50,000 tournament in Rockford, Ill., and P. Costello came in second. Appropriately, the local newspaper ran a picture of a P. Costello with a caption identifying her as the winner. Wrong P. Costello. No big deal, though, seeing as pretty much the same thing had happened once before in Cranston, R.I. after a P. Costello had won a tournament.

Reading the results of a WPBA event can be mystifying. Says one P. Costello, "Most people think we're a misprint." When a P. Costello got married recently, it was thought that a hyphenated last name would, at last, end the chaos. No chance. Says that P. Costello, "I'm not letting 'em off the hook now. I'm keeping the confusion going."

When Pat Costello, the married one, who's from Union City, Calif., joined the WPBA tour in 1968, life was reasonably simple. Then, two years later, the second Pat Costello, from Scranton, Pa., came along. "Thank God they're not from the same state or we'd all slit our throats," says a WPBA executive.

California Pat was asked by tour officials if she'd like to change her name. She asked them if they'd like to drop dead. In a moment of pique not too long ago, WPBA Commissioner Roger Blaemire said, "The way you tell the Costellos apart is that Pat is the rude one."

Pennsylvania Pat, being new and with no real choice in the matter, was called Patricia during her first tournament, but she hated it. Well, what about Patsy? "I am not," she sniffed, "the Patsy type." So, Pennsylvania Pat reluctantly accepted Patty as a very poor second choice.

But for WPBA fans, the difference between Pat and Patty is a slim one. And the distinction is lost altogether on many bowling writers, for whom the next stop is obit rewrite. When California Pat (she is seldom called that) bowled the record series for a woman of 863 (games of 298, 266 and 299) in 1978, news of the feat was sent out across the land—only the writer's report credited Pennsylvania Patty (who's also seldom called that) with the accomplishment. P. Costello and P. Costello also suspect that when votes are being taken for various tour awards, the Costello who gets a vote is not necessarily the Costello the balloter had in mind.

Blaemire confesses that when he took his job 2� years ago, "I couldn't get them straight." The tour's tournament director, Larry Swafford, estimates the two are mixed up "90% of the time." It doesn't help that California Pat is called Patty by some of her friends and that Pennsylvania Patty is called Pat by a lot of hers.

In truth, the Costellos are quite different in bowling style (Patty of Pa. is jerky; Pat of Calif. is smooth); in performance in the clutch (Patty tends to leave herself with splits; Pat is wont to squeeze the ball too hard and thus leave the 10-pin standing); and in manner (Patty is reserved; Pat is mouthy). Keen observers also note that Patty is lefthanded and Pat rolls right. Still, it seems that P. Costello has been dominating bowling twice as long as she really has and been winning twice as much as she actually has.

Continue Story
1 2 3