There are so many jokes to be made about fear the Bear Brian Wilson throwing massive bowling balls around. Just imagine the bowling pins being your tonsils and I will leave the rest up to your sick, sick mind!
Brian Wilson isn’t just the beard to be feared on the baseball diamond. He also throws mean strikes down a bowling alley.
In fact, the San Francisco Giants closer will have a lane inscribed with his number, 38, when Lucky Strike Entertainment opens its 12-lane “upscale bowling lounge” for business next week, across the street from AT&T Park. Of course, you can get that kind of honor when you’re a part owner of the place.
Lucky Strike, which operates 22 “upscale bowling lounges” across the country, named Wilson as a “partner/owner” of the San Francisco location this week. “Of all the well-known folks from the professional sports and entertainment world … there isn’t anyone that I would rather have as a partner than Brian,” said Lucky Strike founder and CEO Steven Foster. “He brings a unique energy to San Francisco.”
Details of the business arrangement, including how big a stake Wilson has, weren’t disclosed. “The amount is confidential, but it is meaningful,” said a company spokeswoman.
So, how did he get involved with Foster? “We were introduced by a mutual friend,” Wilson said in a text from spring training. “We are both originally from Boston, we both love the ‘The Big Lebowski’ and we are both mad scientist inventors.”
Although he won’t be at the opening next Thursday – spring training comes first – he said he intends to frequent the place. “I am pumped to be in the Lucky Strike mix, and I expect to roll many massive strikes on (lane 38),” he said when his involvement was announced.
Besides the dozen lanes, the 22,000-square-foot venue includes a full menu restaurant, a separate sushi bar, a 40-foot-long drinking bar, game rooms and plush seating areas. Wilson called the concept “edgy.”
How edgy in terms of a business venture remains to be seen. Other local sports legends have gone into business, some faring better than others.
Former San Francisco 49ers MVP Steve Young is doing just fine as co-founder and managing partner of Huntsman Gay Global, a private-equity firm whose first fund raised $1.1 billion. U.S. and British Open winner Johnny Miller heads a syndicate that bought the Silverado Resort in Napa in 2010; Miller is redesigning its two golf courses. Nate Thurmond, the peerless Golden State Warriors center, had a great run with Big Nate’s BBQ in San Francisco before he retired in 2010.
Reggie Jackson, who led the Oakland A’s to three successive World Series in the 1970s, wasn’t so fortunate. His block-long Chevrolet car dealership in Berkeley closed after just one year, in 1989.
And HRJ Capital, (H for ex-49er Harris Barton, R for Ronnie Lott, J for Joe Montana), came to a particularly bad end. Their hedge fund, which at one time managed $2.4 billion in investments from clients such as Barry Bonds and Peyton Manning, went belly-up during the great financial meltdown and was taken over by a Swiss private equity firm in April 2009. (Montana had left in 2005.)
In November, Bloomberg reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating some of the company’s financial transactions during the meltdown. Neither the SEC nor the company’s principals or attorneys have commented on the investigation. Lott, the Hall of Fame cornerback and free safety, is still on his feet, however. He’s one of the angel investors participating in an $85 million investment, the social-network company Yammer announced this week.
Wilson said he will definitely be dropping by his new business during the Giants’ first home series in April. Asked what his highest bowling score is, Wilson responded, “perfect or whatever is higher.”