By PHIL GULICK
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2001
When the Senior PBA Tour opens May 5 with the Greater Syracuse Open in Liverpool, N.Y., among the players will be John Douglas Troup, better known as "Guppy."
Troup is familiar to senior and national tour fans, and there's one reason: Guppy Troup is a loveable flake.
During his 26 years on tour, Troup has built a reputation as a character, outlandish, outspoken and dressed to kill. Troup was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1950. His family moved to the United States after Guppy's uncle got his father a job at the University of South Carolina.
Troup picked up the nickname as a youngster bowling in the state tournament inColumbia, S.C. "Every team was named after a fish, and we were the Guppies," Troup said. "I was their captain, and we won and set a state record."
Troup honed his game, joined the pro tour and introduced his off-the-wall character and dress.
Oh, yes, the dress. Troup's wardrobe on and off the lanes is best described as early paisley, which, incidentally, is a Scottish city near Glasgow.
There was the time in Erie, Pa., several years ago when Troup qualified for the TV finals.
"There were five guys in the audience without shirts and 'G.U.P.P.Y.' painted on their chests, the most awesome thing I ever saw," he said. "I won my first match and threw my resin bag to one of the guys. I lost my second match and threw my towel to another guy. The owner of the center suggested I throw my shirt to the kids ... and I did. I think I'm the only bowler to take off his clothes on national TV."
When the tour was in Kansas City several years ago, Troup bought 14 pairs of trousers, "wildest colors I could get." He split them down the middle and sewed different-colored legs together, one orange, the other green. His appearance on the lanes was sensational.
Years ago, when the PBA Southern Region visited Southland Lanes in Pinellas Park, Troup appeared in his usual outrageous dress, and this time his rococo rags got soaked.
To celebrate winning the tournament, Troup threw what he said was a $10,000 diamond ring into the retention pond behind the center. After second thoughts, he waded in to retrieve it, unsuccessfully. Several onlookers spent days underwater groping the mud, also unsuccessfully.
"That's okay," Troup said. "I'll collect the insurance."
Troup later admitted the ring was worth about $25.
Troup turned 50 after the second stop of last year's senior tour. He cashed in eight of the final nine events, made the match-play four times and earned $16,045. He was named senior rookie of the year.
He has won eight national titles and 26 regional crowns. He won his first national title in 1978 and hasn't won since 1985.
"I told the new PBA owners that if they wanted somebody with personality to come get me," Troup said. "It's been a great career, and I've loved every minute of it."
Troup said he has been tempted to wear his father's Scottish outfit on the lanes, but "it's a kilt, and you can't wear anything underneath."
The national tour is off until September, but the ABC Masters will attract a large number of pros and amateurs. It is June 12-16 at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., with entries still open and $40,000 going to the winner. Log on to http://www.bowl.com and click on ABC for information.
- Phil Gulick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.