In the Pocket: NBA campaign opens Sunday

The Western Diner Northern Bowlers Association has found its niche in the local bowling scene, and t

The Western Diner Northern Bowlers Association has found its niche in the local bowling scene, and tournament director Karl Bieber hopes the quick sweeper format will continue to appeal to local scratch competitors, even though the poor economy has hit some people extremely hard over the last few weeks.

The NBA kicks off its seven-tournament season Sunday at Town ’n Country lanes in Guilderland at

10 a.m. Entry fee continues to be $50, plus a $10 one-time membership fee. Bowlers must compete in at least two regular NBA events to be eligible for the season-ending Bob Guild Championship April 5 at Del Lanes.

Added money from title sponsor Western Diner, plus regular sponsors The Daily Gazette and the Albany Bowling News, will guarantee about $800 on top for 40 entries, but last year, the NBA averaged 50 entries per event. Bieber would love to have at least that many this year. If the fields grow to 50 or more again, top prize could be more than $900.

“I don’t know what to expect with the economy being what it is, but bowlers are bowlers, and I think they’ll be there,” said Bieber, who is also the president of the Albany USBC Bowling Association.

“I’m assuming the bowlers are anxious to bowl. They haven’t done much of anything yet. I know the numbers were good for the first two Huck Finn tournaments. I’m excited, and I’m looking forward to this season. It’s nice to have the schedule set up the way it is.”

Western Diner has kicked in $1,500 to the overall prize fund, and Bieber said there will be $500 in

total added money for this weekend’s tournament.

“Our new sponsor is enthusiastic, and our finances are all set. It’s just a matter of hoping that the bowler comes out and does his thing,” said Bieber.

“Our tournaments are different than the Huck Finn because we don’t take the whole weekend to compete. We just use three to three and a half hours of a bowler’s time, and I think the prize money we offer is pretty good. I think our tournaments appeal to a lot of the guys.”

Bieber has an interesting mix of bowling centers on his schedule this year, including HoBo Lanes in Catskill.

“Brian LeClair talked to us about getting something going down in Catskill, and we’re going to give it a try,” said Bieber. “I think we’ve got a good, eclectic mix of places, and we’re asking all the proprietors for a competitive shot. It’s out of my hands after that. I really think the bowlers appreciate a competitive shot rather than a house shot.

“The other thing is I’d love to see us draw bowlers from a 90-mile

radius. We already draw guys from Massachusetts. When I made a trip to Binghamton for the Empire State Games, I talked to a lot of people out there who said they would love to compete here, including some women bowlers. Maybe we can bring in some people who haven’t bowled here before.”

Last year, the season opener was also at Town ’n Country. The top three finishers were Bob “Goose” Faragon (1,150, $725), Nunzi Manuli (1,106, $350) and Rick Mochrie Jr. (1,075, $200). At Boulevard Bowl, lefty Gary Bingham, who shot a 1,219 and earned a $940 paycheck, was followed by Matt Sherman (1,205, $470) and Dan White (1,168, $280).

The one tournament that got a little out of sync with exceptionally high scoring was at Hometown Lanes in Mechanicville, where Eric Stangle needed a five-game total of 1,298 to earn $830. Sherman was once again second (1,289, $415), followed by Jeff Voght (1,281, $250).

At Sunset Recreation, left-hander Mike Bixler shot a 1,068 and won $820, followed by Jeff Young (1,053, $410) and Dave Bingham (1,050, $240.

Young (1,214, $800) won his first area tournament the next week at Sportsman’s, with Gary Bingham (1,176, $320) and Bob Smith (1,176, $320) rounding out the top three.

At Hi-Roc in Saratoga Springs, LeClair, who was still an exempt PBA Tour member at the time, won $800 with a 1,115, followed by Bob Caputo Jr. (1,098, $400) and Jeff Zielonki (1,094, $200).

Dustin Paupst won $1,160 at the Bob Guild at Del Lanes with a 1,226 total. Sherman (1,167, $580) was second for the third time and Faragon (1,163, $375) was third.


The Menagerie league, which bowls Friday nights at Boulevard Bowl, is one of the oldest and most respected leagues in Schen­ectady.

According to league president Kevin Barry, the league started in 1927. Former member Frank Nowicki, who joined the league a few years after it began, said the league’s name came from the variety of occupations its league members had at the time when it competed at Taberski’s Lanes on Broadway.

The league eventually moved to Woodlawn Lanes when that center was built, and remained there until 1958, when it shifted to Rolling Greens Lanes in Rotterdam, where it stayed through 1993-94.

Scotia Lanes, which is now called Rolling Greens Lanes, was the league’s home from the 1994-95

season through 1996-97. The league moved to Boulevard for the

1997-98 season.

Until last season, the league was a men-only league. It is now mixed.

“The league is very compet­itive, and the camaraderie enjoyed by the members is outstanding,” wrote Barry in an e-mail this week. “The league is divided up into four div­isions at midseason. Each div­ision has its own high average, high triple and high single awards.

The anchor of the league is veteran Al Califano, who has been a member since 1948-49. Larry Barry, Kevin’s father, joined the league in 1956-57. Califano and Barry have been members for 60 and 52 consecutive years, respectively.

John DeVarnne is the league’s top bowler, and has fired at least a 700 triple every week this season. Other league members who have registered 700s include Mike Moore, Joe Bennett, Butch Miller, Dave Taber and Kevin Barry. Colletta Aini is the league’s top women’s bowler.


The PBA Tour, now sponsored by Lumber Liquidators, kicks off Sunday with the PBA World Championship at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan. The live ESPN-televised finals will be Oct. 26.

Defending champion Norm Duke will be in the field, as will all-time victory leader Waltler Ray Will­iams Jr., defending PBA Player of the Year Chris Barnes and other standouts like Tommy Jones, Wes Malott, Rhino Page, Sean Rash and Pete Weber.


Former WTEN Ch. 10 and WNYT Ch. 13 newsman John Craig will be the new play-by-play announcer for the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” Sundays on WXXA Fox 23 at 11 a.m.

Craig, who filled in on occasion last year, replaces WXXA sports director Rich Becker, who is leaving for family reasons. Former PBA touring pro Kenny Hall remains as the color analyst.


u Towne Bowling Academy and the Edgewood Independent league are holding the Fred “Snake” Memorial No-Tap Team Tourn­ament Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. Proceeds will benefit Ila Jean Rathbone, a

local child who has cancer. There will be a special youth squad with four youth bowlers or one adult with three youth bowlers. Entry fee is $10 per person, and one in five bowlers will receive trophies. There will also be a team no-tap

events Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. and

Nov. 23 at 4 p.m., with an entry fee of $80 per team. Call Towne Bowling Academy at 355-3939 for more information.

u The CDTL needs bowlers for its Friday night league at Boul­evard Bowl. All teams cash, and first place is worth $1,600. Call Boul­evard at 374-4171 or Chris at

421-1975 for more information.

u Boulevard Bowl will host a Rock ‘n Bowl benefit for SAFE Inc. on Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. There will be music, raffles and a silent auction. Cost is $10 per person, and costumes are welcomed. The event is for both youth bowlers and adult bowlers. Call Sharon Sager at

387-6164 for more information.

u The Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro Scoring League opened its season last weekend with a bang. In the Senior Boys East Division at Sportsman’s Bowl, Mike O’Toole rolled a perfect game and a 793 triple. Seth Adams (259-744), Jordan Schellenger (249-732), Alex Weglarz (278-722) and John Pulver (237-706) each hit the 700 mark. In the Senior Boys Western Division at Boulevard Bowl, Sean Len­ahan (263-736) and Korey Tillman

(256-726) led the way. Liz Kuhlkin (265-759) and Ariel Yushenko

(244-703) were the top bowlers in the girls’ division at Towne Bowling Academy.

u B.J. Smith went wild in the Jack Scaccia NFL this week at Boulevard Bowl. He rolled back-to-back 300s and then finished up the four-game league with a 247 and a 237 for a 1,084 series.

u Michelle Maloney registered her first 700 triple (258-706) this week in the Schenectady Old Dorp league.

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