Call him “Mr. Perfect.”
Others came close, but nobody was able to roll a perfect game during the televised finals of the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” until Steve Rock turned the trick Sunday at Middleburgh Lanes. You can watch the 36-year-old Glens Falls resident’s milestone this Sunday at 11 a.m. on FOX23.
The “Capital Region Bowling Show” is in its ninth season, and more than 200 shows have aired without a 300 game.
“We had a 300 in a doubles tournament back in season No. 1, but never a single 300,” said Art Hunsinger, the show’s executive producer.
“We’ve been waiting and waiting for one, sitting on the edge of our seats many times, but no one did it until [now],” said Carol Judge, executive director of the Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York.
Rock, known for his thumb-less release, has produced 99 perfect games and 53 800 triples, including a career-best 878, when he rolled 34 out of 36 strikes at Broadway Lanes. But he admitted that he was still nervous on Sunday.
“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “A lot of people told me that it didn’t seem like I had much nerves, and I didn’t show it on the outside, but I was definitely nervous,” said Rock. “I just didn’t want to make a bad shot. Even if I didn’t get the 300, I didn’t want to make a horrible shot after throwing 11 pretty good ones.”
Despite his perfect game, Rock lost in the finals to another big-hooking cranker, Dave Bingham, who beat him, 225-203. That prevented Rock from picking up his second career “Capital Region Bowling Show” title. He has one singles scratch victory, rolled at the old Lake George Bowl, and also finished second in doubles.
“The singles win I had at Lake George was one of my most memorable wins, because it was at my home house,” Rock said. “I remember shooting a 279 game.”
Most of Rock’s powerful release comes from the fact that he doesn’t insert his thumb into the bowling bowl and gets more revs than most bowlers.
“I used my thumb until I was 19 years old,” Rock said. “Then one day, I was at the old Bowlers Club competing in the Amateur Bowlers Tour, and I started practicing without my thumb in the ball. I had watched Mike Miller use that release on the PBA Tour, so I figured I would give it a try. My very first game, I rolled like a 230 with it, and that hooked me. I can generate a lot more pin carry. I’ve watched other people try it, but they are usually erratic. The key for me is to get my fingers in the ball as far as possible, and stay behind the ball when I throw it.”
Despite his success with his unorthodox release, Rock doesn’t recommend it.
“I’ve got some wrist problems at times. I’d rather see younger players pick up the game the correct way, with the thumb and both fingers in the ball,” he said. “But if they want to try it and tinker with it, maybe it will help.”
Rock, who will compete at the USBC Nationals next month, is proud of the fact that he finished second to former USBC Masters champion Brian Boghosian in two major events — the New Year’s Day tournament at Saratoga Strike Zone and a World Team Challenge Sweeper. He also finished eighth in the Bowlers Journal tournament.
“I’d like to bowl more singles tournaments down there [the Capital Region], but I work a lot, and I usually pick and choose. That’s why I bowl in the doubles tournaments,” said Rock, who recently moved from Hudson Falls. “I’ve done pretty well down there. If I don’t cash, I’m usually pretty close.”
Rock, nicknamed “Balboa,” as in Rocky Balboa, said his original goal was to record 100 perfect games, but now that he is only one short of that lofty total, he has a new goal.
“I told my girlfriend that I want to get 200 perfect games before I retire,” he said.
CITY TOURNAMENT UPDATE
The 80th annual USBC Bowling Association Championship Tournament, better known as the City Tournament, begins Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Towne Bowling Academy. There will be two more squads Sunday at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The tournament is sponsored by The Daily Gazette. Other sponsorships are still being accepted, including lane sponsorships for $75 and wall posters for $45.
The first Scratch Team Challenge will be held March 29 at 9 p.m.
Other squads will be April 7 at 3:30 p.m., April 23 at 6:30 p.m., April 24 at 6:30 p.m., April 25 at 6:30 p.m. and April 26 at 6:30 p.m. The second Scratch Team Challenge is set for April 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Entry fee is $22 per event, if paid in advance. Handicap is 90 percent of 240. The prize ratio is one in eight. Call tournament directors Chet Ciembroniewicz (577-8562) or Sharon Sager (346-3245) for more information on entries or sponsorships.
Qualifiers are winding down for the 11th annual Joe Donato Scratch Singles tournament at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Top prize for one of the Capital Region’s premier events is $4,000, and second place is worth $2,000. Regional pros from outside of the area have won the last four titles — Steve Ferraro (2012), Mike Rose (2011), Mike Lichtstein (2009) and Ray Cyr (2008). Other former champions are Darrell Coonrad (2007), Lee Aiezza (2006), Jerry Brunette Jr. (2005), Gene Speenburgh (2004), Mike Drexel (2003) and Steve Wagoner (2002).
“We get quite a few outstanding bowlers coming in for this tournament, but our local bowlers are as good as anybody,” said Tom Donato. “We’ve got guys like
Brian LeClair, Joe Mazuryk and Steve Wagoner, and a bunch of other guys. We have so many good players in this area, that it should be a great field once again.”
There will be a qualifier tonight at 9 at Imperial Lanes in Amsterdam, plus qualifiers Saturday at 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. at Sportsman’s. Two more qualifiers follow on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and noon at Sportsman’s, followed by the semifinals.
“We’re hoping for a big weekend,” Donato said. “I always want to get at least 300 entries, but it’s getting tougher and tougher every year, because there is so much else going on. It’s not as easy as it once was, but I’m hoping for a big turnout this final weekend.”
The tournament is sponsored by Towne TV and Park Building Supplies.
Call Tom Donato (496-7812) or Tommy Donato (788-0771) for more information.
STRIKES AND SPARES
u Boulevard Bowl hosts the team event as the 18th annual Blizzard Bowl continues at 9:45 p.m. Saturday. Entry fee is $60 per four-person team. Handicap is 100 percent of 220. Call Boulevard Bowl at 374-4171 for reservations. The singles and doubles portion of the tournament, which benefits the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Schenectady, begins on March 23 at Burnt Hills Lanes at 12:30 p.m. Entry fee for the singles and doubles is $15 per event. Call Burnt Hills at 399-0999 for reservations.
u Junior program leaders are reminded that the inaugural Daily Gazette Junior Team Championship will be held April 21 at Sportsman’s Bowl. Each local center can send as many four-person teams as they wish to compete. Each team consists of four bowlers from the majors, juniors and preps divisions. There must be at least one girl on each team. Most teams will have two majors, one junior and one prep bowler, but coaches can mix up their squads any way they like. Handicap will be 100 percent of 720. Entry fee is just $20 per team. Pizza and soda will be provided. The members of the winning team will receive plaques, and the winning team will also get possession of the permanent trophy, named in honor of the late Hal Buell, for one year.
u The Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour holds its next event Saturday at Uncle Sam Lanes. A “Winding Road” sport pattern will be used for this Junior Gold qualifier.
u The next Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” qualifiers will be March 23 at 3 p.m. at Alpha Lanes in Troy and March 24 at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at Towne Bowling Academy. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7628 for reservations.
u In the Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League, the roll-off between the Senior boys’ Western and Eastern divisions will be held Sunday at Hometown Lanes at 10 a.m. Sportsman’s Bowl won the junior boys’ division, and Green Island Lanes captured the girls’ division.
u Speaking of Huck Finn qualifiers, the final qualifier for the second annual Adult/Junior Tournament, sponsored by Huck Finn’s Warehouse, Awards by Walsh and Bob Daubney’s, will be held Saturday at 12:30 or 3 p.m. at Spare Time East Greenbush. The semifinals will be Sunday, also at Spare Time East Greenbush. Handicap will be 90 percent of 225. There are two divisions: team average of 360 and under and team average of 361 and over. The TV finals will be taped March 24 at Cove Lanes in Great Barrington, Mass., and that show will air March 31.
u Steve Moore converted the 7-10 split while bowling in the Menagerie league last week.
u The next New Era Senior Tour event will be Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl. The tournament will combine with a New Era Women’s Tour event.
u Wagoner and Mike Neumann won $550 apiece, while Nick Galushua and Dan Furman earned $300 each in the 26th annual Bud Bowl at Lighthouse Lanes in Oswego.
u Schalmont graduate Liz Kuhlkin, a sophomore at Nebraska, advanced to the sectionals of the Intercollegiate Singles Championships, to be held next month in her new backyard, Lincoln, Neb.
u The Schenectady/Scotia USBC Women’s Bowling Association will hold its annual membership meeting March 23 at 4 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl’s party room. On the agenda will be adoption of the budget, the election of delegates and alternates to the national and state conventions, various reports from the local clubs and other business. Refreshments will be provided.
u Thomas Buonomo (Gansevoort) and Travis Plansker (Johnsburg) of Adirondack Community College won the doubles title at the NJCAA Bowling Championships.