IN THE POCKET – One of the most accurate spare shooters and clutch bowlers in local major tournament history, a talented lefty who continues to shine competing against senior pros on national and regional tours and a veteran kegler known for his exceptional work behind the scenes will join the Schenectady USBC Hall of Fame at next month’s awards dinner.
Steve Wagoner and Rich Strath will be enshrined for achievement, while John Mecca, also a solid bowler in his own right, joins the HOF in the meritorious service category. They will be honored, along with all of the Schenectady USBC tournament winners, at the Schenectady USBC Bowling Awards Banquet and Hall of Fame Ceremony June 21 at Max 410, formerly the Water’s Edge Lighthouse Restaurant. The legendary Parker Bohn III, one of the all-time greats on both the PBA Tour and the PBA50 Tour, will be the guest speaker. The festivities begin at 6 p.m.
The 45-year-old Wagoner, a Broadalbin-Perth High School graduate and Broadalbin resident, is more known for his extraordinary tournament resume than for his outstanding league performances.
One of Wagoner’s favorite memories was qualifying for match play as an amateur in the 2005 PBA Tour stop at Clifton Park Bowl. He’s won 12 NBA titles including the prestigious Bob Guild Memorial Championship twice, and also captured two New England Bowling Association crowns. Wagoner won the inaugural Donato Scratch Singles Tournament in 2003.
The 1993 NYS Scholastic champion was part of the victorious 2020 Towne Team Tournament squad and was also a member of the mixed four-person team — including Marty Capullo, Debbie Capullo and Don Herrington — that held the national record at one time.
The 2012 Adirondack Open champion is a three-time Diggers Doubles titlist as well as the 2022 Valley Scratch Action winner, the 2016 New Year’s Day Tournament champ and the 2022 Kingpin’s Alley Masters Championship titlist, earning $8,000, one of the area’s richest paydays for a non-professional. He won 12 Huck Finn Capital Region Bowling Show events, captured a Sammy V’s tournament this past season and tied for third at the prestigious Bud Bowl.
Wagoner’s SBA league resume includes 57 perfect games, 26 800 triples, a high average of 241 in the Towne Mixed Doubles league and a top triple of 845. He competed in the City League at Towne Bowling Academy for 20 years with a high average of 238. Wagoner also competed in the Capital District All Star league at Sportsman’s Bowl.
A member of the Track bowling equipment staff, Wagoner has also been an assistant coach for the Broadalbin-Perth High School bowling team.
Known for his smooth and simple release, Wagoner continues to excel in the clutch.
Strath, a 63-year-old Schenectady resident, has compiled a lengthy list of team and individual achievements both in Schenectady USBC league competition and major tournaments. Currently competing on the PBA50 national and regional tours, Strath has cashed 7 times in PBA50 tournaments and twice more on the regular PBA tour.
Strath won six Huck Finn titles and one Huck Finn senior crown to go along with three New Era Senior Tour victories and two Northeast Senior Challenge titles. He was a two-time Grand Masters champion and also won the New Year’s Eve Tournament at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center, as well as the Joe Donato Senior Classic Championship.
He won the SBA team championship for both scratch and handicap with Joe VanDerLinden, Scott Chastenay and Mike DeCerbo in 2015 and won the Town ’N Country Baker Doubles title with Don Herrington in 2020. He teamed up with Wagoner to win the 2017 Diggers Doubles crown.
Strath was third in the nation in mixed doubles with league partner Lindsey McPhail. He compiled at least a 230 average in leagues at Towne Bowling Academy, Sportsman’s Bowl, Del Lanes and Town ’N Country, to go along with a 225-plus average at Boulevard Bowl and Redwood Lanes. Strath owns 89 perfect games, 45 800 triples and has a high triple of 845 and a best four-game series of 1,104. He once averaged 238 in league play.
Mecca, a 65-year-old Scotia resident originally from the Buffalo region, has compiled a lifetime average of 209 in 20 years as a member of the Schenectady USBC. His highest average was a 231 in the Schenectady League, and he’s recorded 10 perfect games and a couple of 800 triples.
Mecca competed in numerous major leagues in the area, including the Vitalo Classic, the Rolling Greens Classic, the Dick Peckham Classic, the Schenectady League, the Rolling Greens Thursday Classic, the Sportsman’s Majors, the Capital District All Stars, the D.V. Greco Insurance City League, the Towne Majors, the City Catholic League, the Frank DePalma Boulevard Classic and the Boulevard Summer NFL.
But Mecca’s main contributions have been as a Schenectady USBC board member on and off since 2005. He was on the merger committee that helped transition the Schenectady Bowling Association, the Schenectady-Scotia Women’s Bowling Association and the Schenectady Junior Bowling Association into one combined association.
Mecca has been instrumental in assisting Schenectady USBC Association Manager Lloyd Denny in record keeping, filing, copying and general office management. He became proficient at the Win Labs bowling program and has been invaluable in inputting league information into the system.
Mecca has also been a mainstay at all Schenectady USBC tournaments, helping out in various ways, from running 50/50 raffles to operating tournament programs and brackets. Mecca is currently not an official board member and is strictly a volunteer, but he can often be found in the SBA office catching up on league sanctions or awards applications.
Mecca has also been a volunteer coach for the Boulevard Bowl junior program.
The cost of the dinner is $30. Meal choices will be terrace stuffed chicken, prime rib and grilled salmon. Reservations must be made by June 12. To make a reservation, call the Schenectady USBC office (518-370-0614) or contact Sharon Sager ([email protected]).
STRIKES & SPARES
The local bowling community lost one of its all-time best competitors last week when Dale Bird died at age 66 after a long illness. Bird was one of the youngest members of the Schenectady USBC Hall of Fame. On Dec. 17, 2007, he rolled games of 280, 279 and 300 for an 859 triple at Sportsman’s Bowl. He competed in many of the top area leagues, including the Sportsman’s Majors, the Bud Light City League and the Sportsman’s Tuesday Classic. A fun-loving leaguemate, Bird will be missed.
Rotterdam native Liz Kuhlkin is off to a fine start on the 2023 PWBA Tour. In the season-opening PWBA Stockton Open at Pacific Avenue Bowl in Stockton, California, Kuhlkin finished 13th and earned $2,900. After a week off, she finished 31st at the USBC Queens and earned $3,100. Meanwhile, Kuhlkin is also currently second in the USBC Women’s Open Diamond Singles with an 805 triple and is first in the Diamond Doubles with partner Jessica Aiezza with a 1,439 total. Kuhlkin is first in all-events, as well, with a 2,288. Her team is in ninth place.
Steve Rock and Mark Ross won the third annual John Drexel Memorial Scholarship Doubles Tournament earlier this month at Town ’N Country Lanes.
Strath finished third/fourth in the PBA50 event at Jordan Lanes over the weekend.
Anthony DeRobertis won six consecutive matches after a loss in the second round to capture the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour’s Masters earlier this month at Town ’N Country Lanes. It was DeRobertis’ second CDYST title and he earned $1,100 in scholarships.
Helen DiCarlo, 100 years old, is still bowling in the Thursday morning mixed spring bowling league at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Very sad to hear that longtime SSWBA secretary and Schenectady USBC Hall of Famer Millie Kielmann passed away at the beginning of last bowling season.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].