Joe Donato, Johnny Walther, Mike Christie, Harry Polomaine, Jim Lewis, Skip Vigars, Dick Peckham and many other outstanding local bowlers became household names during the old “TV Tournament Time” show that used to run Sunday mornings on Ch. 6.
As a young man, I tried to watch the show as often as possible. Saturdays were set aside for the PBA Tour, with Chris Schenkel and Bo Burton handling the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively, to describe the performances of stars like Earl Anthony, Mark Roth and Marshall Holman.
But for me and many of my friends, Sunday mornings were reserved for our local heroes. With Howard Tupper as the announcer, and with Duke Moran and Charlie “The Hand” Bechard behind the scenes, we got to know the area’s best bowlers up close and personal.
Those days are long gone, but the Huck Finn/Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York’s “Capital Region Bowling Show” is trying to bring them back — at least for a week — with the Huck Finn “TV Tournament Time” scratch event, sponsored by Karl and Warren’s Pro Shop.
The qualifying tournament will be held Sunday at 10 a.m. at Saratoga Strike Zone. The format will be five games of qualifying. One in five will cash, with the top two earning byes and the next four bowling head to head. The winners meet the top two seeds, and those winners advance to the TV finals to bowl a three-game match. Total pinfall determines the winner.
Top prize will be $800 guaranteed, while the runner-up will earn $400.
Nobody bowls three-game matches in head-to-head competition anymore.
“I just wanted to try it and see if it will work,” said Huck Finn tournament director Jeff Segel. “If it’s even moderately successful, I’ll try to incorporate it and do it again. The qualifier won’t take long, and I think it will be a little different for today’s bowlers. I remember when I used to bowl. It was exciting to get on television and bowl a three-game match.”
Segel admitted that most of today’s scratch bowlers weren’t competing when the “TV Tournament Time” show was in its glory years.
“The young kids of today don’t even know what it was all about,” said Segel. “Only guys like Sonny Dorstek were still bowling back then, but I think it will be interesting. I’d love to get 45-50 entries. I’ve got 21, so far. There’s always other tournaments going on, but this is a little bit different, and I’m hoping it will be successful. It’s an opportunity to see what the bowlers think about the old format. It brings me back to the old days.”
For those of us who love the history of the game, this bit of nostalgia is refreshing. I hope the tournament is successful.
Call Segel for reservations at 439-7628.
YEAR IN REVIEW
Everyone has their own take of the top local bowling stories in 2012, but for what it’s worth, here is mine.
5 — Redwood Lanes in Colonie, home of the first Pro Bowlers Tour telecast on Jan. 27, 1962, closes its doors for financial reasons. Not only did most of the area’s best bowlers compete there over the years, but Redwood was also the home of the extremely successful Colonie High School bowling program.
4 — Two area bowling legends pass away in Joey Schmidt and Cuby Fiorillo. Schmidt was a charter member of the PBA and was not only one of the area’s all-time greats, but also helped start and run the Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League. Fiorillo rolled the first perfect game in the history of the Schenectady Bowling Association tournament, won the first SBA singles title in 1941 and competed in the Vitalo Classic for a league-record 51 seasons. He also helped form the original Northern Bowlers Association.
3 — Kenny Hall teams up with Nick Galusha to win the Huck Finn Over-50/Under-50 tournament at Spare Time-Clifton Park. It was Hall’s first appearance on television since he was a PBA touring pro. He spends most of his time now as a pro shop operator and color commentator for the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show”, but it was nice to see him back on the lanes.
2 — Steve Wagoner won what proved to be the final Northern Bowlers Association Bob Guild Memorial Championship by a whopping 102 pins over Galusha at Del Lanes. Nobody knew it at the time, but the NBA eventually became a two-tournament organization rather than field an event once a month with a season-ending championship.
1 — Dan Furman, an Amsterdam native now living in Niskayuna, captured the Jack Scaccia Sr. Memorial Championship at Alpha Lanes. The Carbone car group salesman has more than 85 perfect games to his credit. He won $4,000 in what is considered the area’s premier event.
By the way, the PBA Tour also came up with its top stories of the year, based on how many fans visited their pba.com official site and clicked on each story. I won’t print all 20, but instead will pick out some of ones I feel were most important.
5 — Don Carter, termed the original PBA superstar, dies at 85.
4 — Norm Duke wins his 35th career PBA title in the Detroit Open.
3 — PBA Tour veteran Tony Reyes dies in a car accident in September.
2 — Sean Rash ends his five-year victory drought and wins the PBA Tournament of Champions.
1 — Pete Weber captures his fifth U.S. Open title, surpassing his legendary father, Dick, and Carter in the number of wins in that prestigious event.
STRIKES AND SPARES
u Colonie’s Bill Pulver defeated Amsterdam native Nick Miseno, 234-232, in the finals of the New Year’s Day Tournament at Saratoga Strike Zone Tuesday. There were 86 entries.
u Qualifying for the Huck Finn handicap/scratch show has been extended until Jan. 13. Bowlers can qualify through their leagues by using their league score and paying $10. Only bowlers with averages lower than 220 are eligible. One in eight bowlers from each house advance to the Jan. 20 rolloffs at Playdium to determine the two handicap bowlers who will make the TV finals.
u Zachary Doty of Nassau rolled an 846 four-game series to win his second Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour title in the CDYST Holiday Bowl last week at Towne Bowling Academy. There were 57 entries. In the doubles event held concurrently, Doty combined with Albany’s Casey Schoonmaker to beat Colonie’s Kalynn Carl and her brother, Justin. The next CDYST event will be Saturday at Alpha Lanes in Troy.
u The third annual Towne Bowling Academy Handicap Team Tournament, sponsored by Ebonite, continues with qualifiers tonight at 9:15, Jan. 12 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Jan. 18 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 26 at 2:30 and 6 p.m. and Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Top prize will be $4,000 per team, with $2,000 for second. There will be an $800 bonus for the best mixed team. A singles event will run concurrently using your team scores. Top prize for the singles event will be $450. Entry fee will be $140 per team, and handicap will be 85 percent of 225. Maximum handicap is 50 pins per person. Call Towne Bowling Academy at 355-3939.
u Dick Peckham, 71, shot a first three of 837 and finished with a four-game total of 1,137 recently in the Rolling Greens Thursday Classic. Peckham had games of 299, 259, 279 and 300. He left a 10-pin in the first game, two 10-pins in the second game and another 10-pin in his third game. Peckham registered 44 strikes in 48 frames.
u Dave Browning of the KAPL Mixed Bowling League converted the 7-10 split on Wednesday.
u Rolling Greens Lanes hosts the Scotia-Glenville Cheer tournament tonight at 7 and Saturday at 9 p.m. The nine-pin no-tap tournament has a five-person team format. Handicap will be 75 percent of a 1,100 team average. One in 10 teams will earn prizes. Entry fee is $60 per team. Call Rolling Greens at 381-4848 for more information.
u The Huck Finn Senior Tournament will have qualifiers Jan. 12 at 3 p.m. at Sunset Recreation and Jan. 13 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. The finals will follow at 1:30 p.m. Entry fee is $40 on Saturday and $50 on Sunday. Re-entry is $40.
u The 21st annual Michelob Ultra Scratch Challenge will be held Jan. 9-13 at AMF Pin-O-Rama Lanes on 1724 Genesee Street, Utica. Entry fee is $75, and re-entry is $65. Qualifying will be four games. One in six bowlers make the cut off each squad and advance to the eliminator finals. Top prize is $3,000 guaranteed. Call 315-735-7543 for reservations.
u Lynda Barnes, wife of PBA standout Chris Barnes and a standout bowler in her own right, and PBA Tour veteran Jason Couch have been inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place May 2 in Reno, Nev. Barnes is a two-time USBC Queens champion and has six top-five finishes in the U.S. Women’s Open. She also captured four USBC Women’s Championship titles. Couch has 16 PBA titles, including four majors. The left-hander won back-to-back Tournament of Champions events in 1999 and 2000 and was ranked 24th on the list of the 50 greatest players in PBA history.
u The 19th annual Capital District 600 Clubs tournament will take place on Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. at Del Lanes. Entry forms were distributed to Electric City 600 Club members. Contact Marianne Hogle on 393-8907 if you need a form.
u The 10th annual 500 Club Snow Ball Scotch Doubles tournament is set for Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. at Sportsmans Bowl. Contact Marie Moorhead (399-3063) or Hogle for more information.