Meet world's biggest college basketball fan


It's somewhat unclear whether Bob Petrella, a 64-year-old freelance television producer in Los Angeles, has any interest in actual college basketball. But he's still a bigger college basketball fan than any of us could ever hope to be.

How? Leslie Stahl explained as much in a fascinating "60 Minutes" segment Sunday night. When Petrella was in junior high school in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, he created an imaginary college basketball team -- Holland College -- in an imaginary town (called Tigertown), acting out the team's games and voicing the broadcasters. You might have done something similar when you were a child. You probably didn't maintain the fiction -- with complete season statistics, recruiting classes, coaching transitions, off-court scandals, nicknames, beloved announcers, and players' life stories -- for more than 50 years. Petrella has.

He is also one of the only people in the world with a condition known as highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM, which grants a person clear recall of virtually every day in his or her life. When Petrella was quizzed, on seperate occasions, by a leading expert on memory and cognition -- who reacts to Petrella not unlike Raleigh St. Clair reacts to Dudley Heinsbergen -- he was consistent on every question, no matter how arcane, about Holland College hoops. "It was seamless," Dr. James McGaugh told Stahl. "He just remembers everything about it."

Meanwhile, Petrella doesn't just ponder new games and enter them into his mental database. He acts them all out. Players, coaches, announcers. All of it.

See? Until you invent and maintain an imaginary college basketball team for 80 percent of your life, you can't possibly be the world's biggest college basketball fan. Bob Petrella has that corner on lock. And Bob, if you're reading this, we'd like to order a Holland College t-shirt in men's size large. Thank you.

(Hat tip to reader DiDi for passing this along.)