Bowling: Gate coming down on Kenny Hall’s stellar career

'I’ve got to touch so many lives in our sport, so I feel very lucky'
Kenny Hall at Kenny Hall's Ultimate Pro Shop in Spare Time Latham Bowl.
Kenny Hall at Kenny Hall's Ultimate Pro Shop in Spare Time Latham Bowl.

Few people have made more of an impact on the Capital Region bowling scene than Kenny Hall.

The former Professional Bowlers Association touring pro estimates he has drilled close to 100,000 bowling balls and given thousands of lessons in his 43-year career. For 13 years, he was the color commentator on the popular Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” alongside play-by-play men Rich Becker and John Craig. And his career on the lanes was one of the best for any local kegler on the national stage.

Hall, 61, announced he will retire from his duties at Kenny Hall’s Ultimate Pro Shop at Spare Time Latham on May 15. His countless friends can help him celebrate with a party on April 29 at Spare Time Latham from 1 to 5 p.m. Appetizers and cake will be served throughout the afternoon. You can bet Hall’s plethora of stories and jokes will be included.

Hall became one of the most recognizable people in the bowling community during his run on the “Capital Region Bowling Show.” His analysis and tips were extremely popular and, eventually, the Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York named the Huck Finn Tournament of Champions after him.

“I like to think of it as me getting into people’s homes and letting them know what it’s like to be a competitor,” Hall said. “It was like me giving them an oral lesson on the TV set. That’s where I was coming from. I was lucky enough to have an insight as a competitor and as a coach. I was just trying to give the local people some ideas about what the bowlers on TV were actually thinking. It was easy for me, because I was just talking from my heart.”

Hall’s competitive career on the lanes was noteworthy. The Shaker High School graduate competed full time on the PBA Tour from 1978 to 1983, and again in 1984 to 1985. He continued to make part-time PBA Tour appearances for the next eight seasons. He finished fourth in the 1982 Cleveland Open, registered a half-dozen top-10 finishes, won a PBA regional and recorded more than 70 perfect games and 30 800 triples while on tour.

Along with his performances on the PBA Tour, Hall said his most memorable experiences included winning the ABC Championship (now USBC Championship) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the Bruegger’s Bagels team that included Hugo McGroty, Mark Hilton, Ron Priester and Dave Wolfe. Their record for high team score (3,537) lasted more than 20 years.

Hall also recalled fondly his first PBA Tour appearance in a TV final, and his victory over the late Barb Leicht, considered one of the best female bowlers and coaches in Capital Region history, while he was still in high school. Becoming an exempt bowler on the PBA Tour also was a career highlight.

His long run as a pro shop operator and instructor began when he learned how to drill balls from former PBA Tour pro shop legend Larry Lichstein when they roomed together on the road. He has worked in numerous pro shops at Playdium Bowling Center, Towne Bowling Academy, Olympic Lanes and even at his own building that included two bowling lanes and a deli, before he moved to Spare Time Latham. His work as a ball driller spanned more than four decades and many changes in technology.

“I’ve seen just about every phase of bowling,” he said. “I remember drilling some 2-finger bowling balls for some old-timers back in the day. I’ve drilled balls from rubber, to plastic, to urethane and to reactive resin. I’ve drilled balls with two-piece weight blocks, to three-piece weight blocks and even to four-piece weight blocks. Some of the changes over the years have been insane.”

The Shaker High School, Schenectady Bowling Association and Albany Bowling Association Hall of Famer said his bowling career, both on the lanes and in the pro shop, was slowed when he contracted Lyme disease. “It really has affected all my joints, especially my hands,” he said. “I’m in Stage 4 now, and my hands twitch a little. Sometimes, I lose feeling in them. If it wasn’t for the Lyme disease, I would have continued bowling for a lot longer. Now, my hips and feet hurt. Most days I’m in a lot of pain, but I try not to focus on it. My fuse is shorter.”

Hall, a natural athlete who also played baseball and hockey as a youngster, said he still will be around to give occasional lessons, and he will try to devote more time to playing golf, a sport that he once dreamed he could play professionally. “I can’t play three or four days in a row, because my hands are terrible. They cramp up all the time now,” he said.

Except for the Lyme disease and some other physical ailments these days, Hall said he has no regrets. “I’ve got to touch so many lives in our sport, so I feel very lucky,” he said.


Uncle Sam Lanes proprietor Tom Walsh won his first New Era Senior Tour event at Olympic Lanes by edging Chris Rebstock 202-186. Walsh earned $450 and Rebstock cashed for $250. Tom Anderson and Jim Burton each won $175.

Greg Klopfer earned $500 for winning the Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York tournament at Uncle Sam Lanes last weekend. There were 78 entries. Jason Rector ($250), Robert Honsinger ($150), Kim Wilson ($120) and Don Alger $100) rounded out the top five. The A.L.B.A.N.Y. tour continues April 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Don Herrington placed an impressive third in a PBA50 regional at Elmira last weekend that was won by the legendary Parker Bohn III.

Liz Kuhlkin had a banner weekend prepping for the upcoming Professional Women’s Bowling Association tour in the annual Green Mountain Open in Rutland, Vermont. She teamed with Chris Fawcett, Jeff Kallner and Tony Palumbo to finish fourth in the  team event (3,463), rolled a 300 game and a 725 triple in doubles with Mark Ray and then combined with Kallner to take over the lead in mixed doubles with a 1,468 after she shot a 796 triple.

The Schenectady USBC Open Championship begins April 7 with doubles and singles events at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Towne Bowling Academy. Singles and doubles continue April 14 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and April 15 at noon. The team event, held at Sportsman’s Bowl, will have squads April 14 at 4 p.m., April 15 at 1 p.m., April 2 at 6 p.m., April 28 at 1 p.m. and April 29 at 4 p.m. Entry fee is $25 per event, plus $5 to be included in the all-events prize pool. Contact Chet Ciembroniewicz (518-577-8562) or Jackie Oliveira (518-370-1006) for more information.

The Schenectady USBC Women’s Championship Singles Tournament will be held April 28 at noon at Towne Bowling Academy.

Boulevard Bowl’s annual Blizzard Bowl continues April 8 at 11:45 a.m. Entry fee for the four-person team event is $80 per team and the price includes a continental breakfast.

The next qualifying squads for the Joe & Tom Donato Scratch Singles Tournament will be Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl, Saturday at 2 p.m. for a seniors-only squad at Sportsman’s Bowl and Monday at 9:15 p.m. at Towne Bowling Academy. Entry fee is $60, and the top prize will be $3,200. The finals are set for April 8 at Towne Bowling Academy. Call Tommy Donato at 518-788-0771 for more information.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

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