Bob Kavanaugh doesn’t get the attention that many other bowlers of his generation enjoy, but that’s just fine with the 54-year-old postal worker.
“I fly under the radar, because when you hang around with Hall of Famers, you’re an also-ran,” said Kavanaugh, who is a Cohoes native, a Shaker High School graduate and a Clifton Park resident. “I’ve always been fortunate to bowl with good bowlers. I only bowled in the junior program for two years because I wasn’t good enough to make the travel team against the likes of Kenny Hall, Chris Fedden, Andy Smith, Ed Martenis Jr. and Butch DiNuzzo, but I always hung around with those guys, and I still do.”
Always a solid competitor once he moved into the adult ranks,
Kavanaugh didn’t really come into his own until he became a senior. Now, he’s among the area’s top 50-and-over competitors. He has two PBA Senior regional titles to his credit, including the Mark Roth PBA East Region Colony Park Open in York, Pa., last October, and is leading both the points and money list. Through five events, he has 70,182 points and leads such well known bowlers as Sam Maccarone, Steve Ferraro, Steve Tripp and his good friend Fedden.
Last season, he was third in points and in the top five on the money list.
“Chris [Fedden] and I were both fortunate to be in the regional yearbook last year. Chris and I have both worked very hard to be able to compete with those guys, but we both realize that when it comes to the pro events, your last tournament doesn’t mean a thing. It’s always what you’re doing in the next one that counts.”
Kavanaugh’s bowling resume includes 24 perfect games and nine 800 triples. He won the Albany City League individual championship one season, and also captured the Rutland Doubles title.
“I’ve become a better bowler
after I turned 50. I’ve had more accolades,” Kavanaugh said. “But I’ll always remember my first 300. It was Jan. 10, 1985, at Cohoes Arena. It was on lanes 5 and 6, and at the time, it was virtually unheard of to get a perfect game there. I was one of the first 12 bowlers ever to get one there. At the time, I was high average in the house at just 208.
“That just shows you how low the scoring was back then. When I came back to that league a few years later and filled in, my 208 average wasn’t even on the left side of the standings sheet. That lets you know how much bowling had changed in five years. I had to go out and get some new equipment.”
Kavanaugh uses a combination of Ebonite and Hammer products now. He won his last regional title using the Hammer Black Widow Pearl.
Kavanaugh credits the legendary Joey Schmidt with teaching him how to bowl.
“I grew up in Cohoes until I was 10 years old, and then I moved to Colonie and attended Shaker High School,” Kavanaugh said. “I started bowling in Joey Schmidt’s junior program at Latham Bowl. What a class guy he is. He really knew the game.”
In the early 1970s, Kavanaugh bowled in the Cohoes Arena adult leagues, but he retired from the game soon after.
“I was only 31, but I moved to Malta and got married,” he said. “I didn’t feel like commuting all the way back to Cohoes, and I didn’t know anybody up in Malta. I stayed retired from the game for six or seven years, but then I got a divorce. If there was anything good about the divorce, it was that I started to bowl again.”
Kavanaugh said his bowling friends helped keep him going during those first difficult years after the divorce.
“Chris Fedden and Andy Smith are like brothers to me. I went to high school with them, and I’ve known them for about 37 years. We’ve been hanging around
together for a long time, and we’ve bowled together for many, many years. ”
Kavanaugh competed with both Fedden and Smith in the now defunct Bowlers Club Classic league and in the Albany City League. The trio often travels together to PBA regional events.
“I never bowled in the regionals when I was younger. First, Chris started bowling in them. The first one I bowled in, I was an amateur. I tried to get my PBA card, but I didn’t get it in time. I entered the Shippensburg tournament in 2005, and I got bumped to the waiting list. I decided to go anyway, and I lucked out, because somebody pulled out just two minutes before we got started. I ended up finishing fourth, and I was kind of hooked.”
Kavanaugh said he currently bowls only once a week in league competition, and doesn’t need a lot of practice to keep sharp.
“I used to bowl twice a week in the Westlawn Doubles league and the Albany City League, but I’m down to once a week now,” he said. “My game is pretty simple, and I can get my timing very quickly. A big layoff doesn’t worry me.”
Kavanaugh doesn’t compete in many NBA or Huck Finn events, because he enjoys his Sundays off when he’s not competing in PBA regionals.
“I’m a big football fan, and I enjoy relaxing and watching football when I’m not bowling,” he said. “I work a lot of Saturdays at the post office.”
Kavanaugh said that he’s happy with his accomplishments, so far, and plans on competing in as many regional events as he can.
“If I never did anything else, I’d be happy with what I’ve done right now,” he said. “But I don’t want to stand still. I would like to be Senior PBA Bowler of the Year in the East Region. That’s my goal, but there are a lot of tournaments left.”
The next PBA Senior regional is Dec. 12-14 at Brookville Lanes in Brookville, Pa.
STRIKES & SPARES
u There were some big numbers in this week’s Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro Scoring League. Ryan Sickler of Boulevard Bowl shot a 300 game and a 765 triple, while Nick Caputo, also of Boulevard, fired a 300 game and a 703 triple.
u In a high school match between Colonie and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Matt Olson tossed a 300 game and a 780 triple for Colonie.
u Sportsman’s Bowl will conduct its Adult/Child league beginning Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. Three games cost $12 per team. Call 355-4330 to sign up.
u The Muny Grille 10-week
Casino league at Sportsman’s starts Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. Cost is $12 a week.
u Sportsman’s Pee Wee Bumper league also begins Jan. 11 at either 9:30 or 11:30 a.m. Cost of two games is $5 per week, including shoes.
u The next Huck Finn/Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York qualifiers for the “Capital Region Bowling Show” will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Hi-Way Recreation in Wynantskill and Sunday, at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., at Playdium in
Albany. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7628 for reservations.
u Anthony Bergela captured the Sunset Recreation Turkey Shoot with a 773 handicap total. Joe Mazuryk shot a 750 (scratch) for second.
u In the Red Richards Thanksgiving Tournament at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy, Sam McDonald shot a 732 handicap total to nip Christine Lamphere and Scott Zalud by one pin.
u The second Towne Bowling Academy Scratch Challenge will be held Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. The format will be five games rolled on five different oil patterns. One in five bowlers will cash, and the field will be limited to the first 60 paid entries. Entry fee is $50. Top prize is $500. Call 355-3939 for reservations.