Pedro E. “Pete” Montalvo, a Sacramento bowling fan who promoted the sport among Mexican Americans as a social activity that grew into an international competition, died Feb. 3 with liver and pancreatic cancer, his family said. He was 75.
Mr. Montalvo helped organize a league with eight five-member teams in 1969 as a way for friends in the close Mexican American community to connect, catch up and enjoy friendly competition every week at the historic Alhambra Bowl. Members celebrated their heritage with major tournaments on Cinco de Mayo and Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day.
The league grew to as many as 32 mixed teams despite several moves over the years as local bowling alleys closed their doors, including the Alhambra, South, Sunset and Alpine. The group sponsored statewide tournaments and inspired Latino leagues in other cities, including Stockton and West Sacramento.
“It was all about camaraderie and bringing together people in the community that you would never think would bowl to relax and have fun,” recalled Rosie Gaytan, a retired Sacramento TV news reporter. “I didn’t even bowl, but I got into it and I met my husband there. Pete had this way of bringing everybody together.”
In 1999, Mr. Montalvo helped start the Mexican-American Bowling Organization, or MAmBO. The group has 20 five-member teams that play every Friday at Pins N Strikes center in Elk Grove and in local tournaments.
MAmBO also sponsors an annual three-day competition in Reno or Las Vegas that has grown from 300 to more than 1,500 bowlers from the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Despite its name, the group has moved beyond its origins to welcome bowlers of all ethnic and racial groups, organizers said.
“Pete just wanted to bring people together to have fun,” said his wife, Pat. “He greeted everybody and always had a smile on his face. He was loved by everybody.”
Mr. Montalvo was born Oct. 26, 1938, in Corpus Christi, Texas. He grew up in nearby Kingsville, where his father once worked on the famous King Ranch, one of the biggest in the world.
He joined the Air Force at 17 and was stationed in Canada, Thailand and other countries. He worked with missiles, learned about computers and served 13 years. After his discharge, he settled in Sacramento and worked with computers as webmaster for the Sacramento City Unified School District.
Mr. Montalvo, who also belonged to Mexican American golf organizations, averaged about 190 as a bowler, said his son Kanji. He bowled his only perfect 300 score at a MAmBO event in 2003, the same day his son also bowled 300 in another league.
“Out of the hundreds of thousands of memories of bowling, that was a special day,” his son said. “Bowling was always a family thing for him.”
Mr. Montalvo is survived by his wife of 35 years, Pat; their son Kanji; and four daughters from a previous marriage, Ria Rose, Sara Hall, Lena and Delphi Michaels. He also is survived by a brother, Oscar; two sisters, Brunie Garcia and Margie; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral was held Feb. 10. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.