Although he was often overshadowed by his legendary brother, Joe, the late Nick Donato was one of the area’s finest balldrillers and lane men.
The “other” Donato always had a smile for everyone who walked through the doors at Sportsman’s Bowl. As the desk man, he was often the first person you saw when you entered the Crane Street bowling establishment, and he was also the last guy you saw when you left. And you were never surprised if you got a different joke coming and going.
That’s one of the reasons why the Donato name will be added to a new doubles tournament this weekend.
The first Uncle Nick Doubles Tournament, sponsored by Towne TV and Park Building Supplies, will be held Sunday at Sportsman’s Bowl. Top prize will be $2,000 guaranteed, based on 60 entries.
Entry fee is $130 per team. There will be two qualifying squads, at 9 a.m. and noon, with the semifinals set for 3 p.m. One in five teams qualify from each squad and will cash.
The format for the qualifiers will be four games across eight lanes. Once in the semifinals, tandems bowl two more games before the field is cut to the top eight teams for head-to-head match play.
“We didn’t want to over-Donato everybody, but we felt my Uncle Nick was the backbone of the bowling alley for many reasons,” said Tom Donato. “Sure, my father was the bowler everyone remembered, and he was the promoter, but my uncle was a great lane man and balldriller. He did everything. Everybody liked him and respected him. I figured it would be a great way to remember him with this tournament, especially by calling it the Uncle Nick tournament.”
Most bowling fans in the Capital Region know Joe Donato as one of the greatest bowlers in area history. His name is on the Donato Scratch Singles Tournament, a yearly event held every March, and many individual area events have been named after him over the years, including several Huck Finn and NBA tournaments.
But Nick Donato was also an important person in local bowling circles, and the rest of the Donato clan wanted to give him his due.
“My son, Tommy, came up with the idea originally. They were very close,” said Donato. “My uncle was the best lane man I ever saw. He and Bert Brindisi were the best around, but they had different styles. Uncle Nick was also an incredible balldriller. Many pros from all over the country came to see him, and he ended up teaching a lot of the local pros who are still drilling balls today.”
The field for this event is star-studded and includes Joe Mazuryk with Mike Drezel, Nick Galusha with Mark James, Tim Banta with Mike Miseno, Dan Furman with Nick Miseno, Brian LeClair with his son, Connor, John Pulver with Bill Pulver, Ron Gardner with Craig Schoonmaker, Len Reygoudt with Tim Boever, Dave and Gary Bingham, Jay and Jamie Diamond, Julie Drexel with Danielle Manuli and Rick Mochrie with Seth Adams, just to name a few.
Donato already had 40 or so teams as of this writing, but he was hoping for at least 60-65 teams.
“I want to give everyone at least double their money back if they cash, so I’m hoping for a good field,” Donato said.
Call 496-7812 or 788-0771 for more information.
Bowlers always have plenty of Christmas ideas, and area pro shops are bursting with business at this time of year.
Now is a great time to ask for a new bowling ball, a double or triple carry bag or a pair of shoes, but if your budget is a little tight, why not put a handy equipment pouch on your wish list? Bowlers always need some tape, scissors, towels, etc. It’s not a bad idea to carry some Nu-Skin for your sore thumb and some meds (headache, upset stomach), as well. Wrist supports are another idea that is helpful and not very expensive.
And if your game is in trouble — like mine always is — don’t be afraid to ask for some lessons. There are plenty of local pros who can at least try to fix your game, although some of us are beyond help.
NEW SENIOR TOUR
The PBA Senior Tour has a new name along with some new formats and new venues.
The PBA Senior Tour is now the PBA50 Tour, and will include 11 tournaments with new stops in Welch, Minn., Tampa, Fla. (tentative), and Trussville, Ala.
The season-long point competition will qualify the top three players for the ESPN-televised PBA50 Tour Finals, which will be a stepladder event conducted during the 2013 PBA World Series of Bowling V next November. Also, selected PBA50 Tour events will be webcast live on pba.com’s Online Bowling Channel Xtra Frame. Details regarding the televised finals and Xtra Frame schedule will be announced later.
The 2013 PBA50 season will again see a new crop of top-level players from the PBA Tour eligible to compete, including PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber, Parker Bohn III and ESPN PBA Tour analyst Randy Pedersen. Following is the tentative schedule:
April 14-17 – Tampa, Fla.
April 20-23 – PBA50 Sun Bowl In The Villages presented by Hammer, Spanish Springs Lanes, The Villages, Fla.
April 28-May 1 – PBA50 Greater Birmingham Open presented by Ebonite, Lightning Strikes Lanes, Trussville, Ala.
May 5-8 – PBA50 Miller High Life Classic presented by Columbia 300, George Pappas Victory Lanes, Mooresville, N.C.
May 13-16 – PBA50 Dayton Classic presented by Roto Grip, Capri Lanes, Kettering, Ohio
June 2-7 – Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open presented by Storm, Suncoast Bowling Center, Las Vegas
June 9-14 – United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters, South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas
June 16-19 – PBA50 Northern California Classic presented by Track, Harvest Park Bowl, Brentwood, Calif.
Aug. 5-8 – PBA50 South Shore Open presented by DV8, Olympia Lanes, Hammond, Ind.
Aug. 10-13 – PBA50 Decatur Open presented by Brunswick, Spare Time Lanes, Decatur, Ill.
Aug. 18-21 – PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open presented by MOTIV, Island Xtreme Bowl, Welch, Minn.
November – PBA50 Tour ESPN Finals (details to be determined)
STRIKES AND SPARES
* Tony Palumbo and Patti Tenyenhuis beat Chris Eggleston and Nicole Persico, 280-202, with handicap, in the finals of the Huck Finn Mixed Doubles tournament Sunday at Boulevard Bowl. The men bowled scratch, and the women received handicap. The finals used a Baker format, where each bowler remained on the same lane.
* The third annual Towne Bowling Academy Team Tournament continues with squads Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Top prize is $4,000, with $2,000 for second place and $800 for the top mixed team. Entry fee is $140 per team, plus an additional $15 fee for singles. One in eight teams will cash. Handicap will be 85 percent of 225 per bowler, but maximum handicap is 50 pins per person. Other squads are Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Dec. 30 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Jan. 4 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 12 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Jan. 18 at 9:15 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Call Towne at 355-3606 for reservations.
* The 21st annual Michelob Ultra Scratch Challenge is set for AMF Pin-O-Rama Lanes in Utica. Top prize is $3,000 guaranteed. The tournament runs Jan. 9-13. Entry fee is $75. Local bowlers have done quite well over the years, with Steve Wagoner winning in 2007, Warren Guernsey winning in 2000 and Mike Neumann winning in 1997. Call 315-793-0201 for more information.
* Town ’N Country Lanes offers a Kids Having a Ball league beginning Jan. 4 at 3:30 p.m. The league runs for 12 weeks and has an entry fee of $7 per week. Bowlers roll two games. Call 456-1113 for more information.
* The Northern Bowlers Association’s 2012 Holiday Classic is set for Dec. 23 at Olympic Lanes in Menands at 9:30 a.m. Entry fee for the five-game sweeper is $50. One in five will cash. There will be an open and a women’s division. The open division will offer a top prize of $840, based on 60 entries, while the women’s division will feature a top prize of $550, based on 30 entries.
* Just a reminder that the handicap division qualifiers are now under way for the Huck Finn tournament. Bowlers can qualify using their league scores for $10. Check with your bowling center for details.
* Speaking of Huck Finn tournaments, a special Huck Finn “TV Tournament Time” event is set for Jan. 6 at Saratoga Strike Zone. The tournament, sponsored in part by Karl and Warren’s Pro Shop, will have one squad at 10 a.m. First place is $800, guaranteed, with $400 for second. Entry fee is $60, plus Huck Finn membership if not already paid. One in five will cash. Call Jeff Segel for reservations at 439-7628.
* The Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour continues on Saturday at Sportsman’s Bowl with a Junior Gold event, with the top four or five advancing to the Junior Gold Nationals in Detroit. The CDYST has also scheduled a Holiday Open Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 at Towne Bowling Academy. Call 393-8296 for reservations.
* The New Era Senior Tour will hold its Digger’s Doubles Over-50/Under-50 tournament Saturday at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy.