After Carmen Salvino picked up his Sun-Times last week and read Gordon Wittenmyer’s article on Kris Bryant and the “blessing and curse’’ of individual success in 2016, Salvino picked up the phone.
“I thought there was some way to help this guy,’’ he said.
Salvino turned pro at 19. Chicago’s greatest bowler–one of the original eight in the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975–built a career when bowling was king.
“I have been to the penthouse to the outhouse and every floor in between,’’ Salvino said. “Still bowling and still love it.’’
Salvino, 83, said there are three basic stages of a legend, something Bryant is on track to become.
“When you are a rookie and have a bad day, people say, `Don’t worry about it, you have all that potential,’ ’’ Salvino said.
Bryant is in the second stage, coming off an MVP season, when he is expected to do well. He nears the final stage.
“When you become a legend, you have to play good every day,’’ Salvino said. “When you become a legend, that is when if you don’t have a good day, you analyze it, because you know your sport. That is when you earn your prestige of learning to be the best. Most people don’t reach that level.
“It is not a curse, but a gift. To be Kris Bryant or Carmen Salvino, you are not a special person, you have a special gift. You have to honor your special gift by hard work and practice. Those are the things you have to go through.’’
Salvino knows what he is talking about.
“People expected me, before I stepped on the lanes, that I had the tournament won,’’ he said. “You have to learn to perform under that kind of pressure.’’
He won 17 PBA titles and two Senior Tour titles. He thinks Bryant can grow into being a legend.
“I think he hasn’t learned to handle pressure as well as he can,’’ Salvino said “I see him swinging at bad pitches. He swings at balls now that he knows better. He is trying too hard to carry the team. He is not the team, he is one of the great ones on the team.
“Some days he gets good hits and looks relaxed. Other days he is swinging at pitches he knows he shouldn’t.
“Yet, I see something else I like about him. I see a lot of people who have great talent for the sport, but are not necessarily good for the sport. Kris Bryant, I like his personality. . . . If some kids want to pattern themselves after Kris Bryant, I am all for it. . . . That makes me cheer for him to handle it.’’
And Salvino reiterated.
“Get on your knees every day, look up and say, “Thank you God,” because you were given a gift,’’ Salvino said. “You’re not a special person, but you got a special gift.’’