In the Pocket: Califano a 63-year league veteran

To call Albert Califano a fixture in the Menagerie league would be a monumental understatement.

To call Albert Califano a fixture in the Menagerie league would be a monumental understatement.

Califano, who will celebrate his 95th birthday on Tuesday, has bowled in the Menagerie league for 63 consecutive seasons, beginning in September 1948, a month after his son, John, was born.

“I wish I could be just like him when and if I get to be that age,” said Menagerie league secretary Paul O’Brien. “I just hope I can still be that active. Albert is amazing.”

Califano admits that he’s been slowing down over the last few years, but he still enjoys rolling his 13-pound ball down the lanes. It was only a few years ago that the longtime General Electric employee traded in his 16-pound ball for the lighter model.

Califano is considered the league’s lucky charm, sort of an icon for all of the younger members.

“Everybody in the league loves him,” said O’Brien. “I try to go over to him and give him the sign of the cross before we bowl every week.”

Califano currently averages 115, but he was averaging 130 to 140 just a year or two ago and shot much better than that for several decades.

“I’ve been bowling all of these years, and I still don’t have a perfect game,” said Califano, who also bowls in a senior league on Mondays at Sportsman’s Bowl.

“But my best game was a 258, and it was almost a perfect game.”

Califano proudly tells the story of the time he nearly fired a 300 game.

“The league was at Woodlawn Lanes at the time. There was some woman watching me bowl, and she kept hollering at me. I didn’t know her from Adam, but she told me what I was doing wrong with my game. I followed what she told me to do, and I ended up with eight strikes in a row.”

On his ninth toss, Califano got distracted by some noise and went to the line a little wobbly and on one foot. He fired the ball down the lanes, but he lost his balance and touched his hand to the foul line

after getting what would have been his ninth straight strike.

“Everybody in the house was watching me,” he said. “After that shot, a guy on the other team, who was a state trooper at the time, told me I had to take the shot over again because I had fouled. I got the strike, which ended up being a spare, but I got wobbly after that, and I made a few bad shots. My nerves shook after that.”

Califano has never bowled a 600 triple, but he says his near perfect game is a great career highlight.

“I’ve enjoyed bowling all of these years. I’ve been in this same league for 63 years, and the guys have treated me well. I’m lucky I can still throw the ball. I know I’m way down the hill now in my bowling game. I can’t do what I used to do. It’s terrible when you throw gutter ball after gutter ball because you get on the wrong step. Sometimes, the ball slips off my fingers now.

“As I get older, I just can’t do what I used to do. I tire much sooner, and things aren’t as coordinated as they used to be.”

Califano, named for Italian king Alberto, was the ninth of 10 children of immigrant parents who came to the United States at the turn of the century. He worked numerous odd jobs after high school until landing a job at General Electric in 1939. He worked there for 40 years, retiring as a machinist in 1979.

“My dad always had a very strong worth ethic,” said John Califano. “He was a jack of all trades. He was into carpentry, plumbing, electrical and automobile repair. He and my mother were always hard workers, and my dad actually built the house we have now. I’m kind of surprised that he actually found the time to bowl all of those years, because he was always so busy.”

The elder Califano has been a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church since 1942. Both he and his son are also active members of the Rotterdam Elks.

“My dad has got a huge box of plaques and trophies,” said John Califano, who is the pastor of a church in Amsterdam. “He still wants to be competitive, but he does what he can. He helps out at the Elks, and he does what he can at church. His greatest frustration is that he wants to do more than he can.”

A few years ago, the elder Calif­ano was given a Lifetime of Achievement Award by the Schen­ectady County Office of Aging.

Let’s hope that Califano has many more years of rolling the ball down the lanes.


Following are some notes from the PBA’s weekly news release.

Overnight entries by Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., and Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., have filled the field for PBA’s All-In Showdown, a winner-take-all special event that will be held at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas Nov. 4, to kick off the two-week PBA World Series of Bowling.

With the field filled at eight players, the All-In Showdown will pay the winner a jackpot of $45,000, including a $5,000 bonus from BowlersDeals.Com. All three two-game elimination rounds will be webcast live on’s Xtra Frame starting at 6:30 p.m.

Following the initial entries by Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, and Chris Warren of Grants Pass, Ore., the next players to plunk down their $5,000 entry fees were Joe Paluszek, a two-time PBA East Region title winner and seven-year PBA member from Bensalem, Pa.; four-time PBA Tour title winner Brian Himmler of Cincinnati, and current PBA Tour exempt players Ronnie Russell of suburban Indian­apolis, and Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa. Rash and Jones, who are competing in the Aust­ralian Masters in Victoria, Australia, completed the field.

“It’s the closest thing around to old-school bowling,” Paluszek, a 31-year-old pro shop owner, said. “I’ve always bowled action. If you put your own money up, you find out who wants to play. As long as they don’t add extra pins to the rack, I have as good a chance as anyone else. I’m not scared.”

“I grew up bowling a lot of action around the Super Hoinke tourn­ament,” said Himmler, a four-time PBA Tour title winner. “I’ve been pretty successful on TV. I thrive in that environment. I’m looking forward to it.”

“The ratio for winning a big paycheck is pretty good if you have a couple of big games,” the 31-year-old Russell said. “I’ve bowled some games on TV for $20,000 and that’s about the same thing. No, sir, I have no fear bowling these guys. I barely even focus on who I’m bowling against. If I don’t bowl good, it doesn’t matter who you’re bowling against.”

O’Neill and Jones were both entered into the event by in Dallas, which is owned by fellow PBA Tour competitor Dino Castillo.

PBA fans can watch the webcast live on Xtra Frame under a new $3.99 one-day subscription program being introduced during the WSOB, a special WSOB package for $29.99 that will cover more than 100 hours of WSOB programming airing through Nov. 30, or a full-year subscription for $64.99. To sign up for Xtra Frame, visit pba.-com and click on the Xtra Frame logo.

Meanwhile, the top seven players on the European Bowling Tour’s 2011 points list, and nine of the top 16, will be in the field for the PBA World Series of Bowling when it gets underway Nov. 4 at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas.

EBT points leaders who are entered in the World Series, and their ranking after the Vienna Open, were: 1, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 821 points; 2, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 700; 3, Mika Koivuniemi, Finland, 598; 4, Paul Moor, England, 531; 5, Dominic Barrett, England, 520; 6, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 496; 7, Stuart Williams, England, 440; 12, Jesper Agerbo, Denmark, 335; and 13, Dennis Eklund, Sweden, 334.


* Qualifying squads for this week’s Huck Finn Capital Region Bowling Show are Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Hi-Way Recreation in Wynantskill and Sunday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at Spare Time-Latham.

* The New York State Women’s 700 Club Tournament will be held Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl. The tournament format is doubles with a $50 entry fee. The 700 Club members also will be competing for prize money donated by the club. Entries and new members will be accepted up to the time of bowling. Call Diane McGroty at 356-2282 for more information.

* Mark Landolfo rolled his fifth career perfect game in the Daily Gazette league at Sportsman’s Bowl on Tuesday.

* Following are the top finishers from the 25th annual Schenectady-Scotia Senior Singles Tournament at Burnt Hills Lanes: Class AA (Thelma Richardson, 714, Naomi Henderson 694), Class A (Lena Becker 694, Joan Clark 657), Class B (Linda Cortese 687, Andrea Gaffney 665), Class C (Sandra Knabner 697, Betty Mae Belli 679) and Class D (Janet Truelove, Debbie Truelove).

* The second annual Al Heins No-Tap Tournament to benefit a Scotia-Glenville graduate will be held Nov. 11-12 at Rolling Greens. Handicaps will be based on 75 percent of a 1,100 team average. Entry fee per five-person team is $60. One in 10 teams will cash.

* Sportsman’s Bowl’s Tavern Tournament will be held Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $120 per five-person team. One in six teams will cash. Handicap will be 100 percent of a 220 average. A hot buffet will be included. Call Sportsman’s at 355-4330 for more information.

* Redwood Lanes will hold a Tavern Tournament Sunday. Entry fee is $125 per five-person team. First place team prize will be $500 guaranteed. One in five teams will cash. Included in the entry fee will be a buffet, drink specials and prizes. Call Redwood or 869-3581 for reservations.

* The Troy Bowling Assoc­iation’s 800 Tournament will be held Saturday at Barbecue Lanes in Hoosick Falls.

* Habitat for Humanity’s “Help Build It!” Habitat Bowl-Athon, to benefit Habitat in its mission to build simple decent housing for selected hard-working low income families, will be held Nov. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl. Sign up as an individual, team captain or team by going to www.schenect­ and follow the links. To bowl, be a corporate sponsor or contribute a silent auction item, call Darlyne at Habitat at 395-3412, extension 1.

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