Mike Smith’s delivery and release are among the smoothest I’ve ever seen on the lanes.
He reminds me of the late Dave D’Entremont, the Professional Bowlers Association standout who died last month after a standout career that included six victories and more than $1 million in earnings.
Both big men unleashed powerful strikes with a big, effortless hook.
Smith used his high-rev release to record the 32nd 1,100 four-game series in Vitalo Classic league history last Saturday night at Sportsman’s Bowl, but even more impressive was the first-three 837 triple that included three consecutive 279 games. That’s quite a triplicate.
“In my third game, I had the first six strikes, and I was thinking about getting a 300, especially after the first two 279 games,” said Smith. “But I tugged my seventh shot a bit and ended up with a 9-pin. At that point, even though I would have rather had the 300 game, I put my mind on getting that third 279, and I got it.”
Smith lost his chance at perfection in his first game when he left a solid 10-pin after pitching the ball a little bit too far to the right. His attempt at another 300 failed when he left a 7-pin in the second game.
Smith also started out strong in his finale with the first six strikes, but he left a 10-pin.
“I was thinking about my fourth straight 279 game, but I left another 10-pin and settled for a 268,” he said. “But I ended up with a 1,105 series, and that’s my highest four-game series ever.”
Smith often flies under the radar when it comes to top Capital Region bowlers, but he’s had an excellent career that spans more than three decades.
“I just turned 50,” he said. “I might not look it, but I certainly feel like it.”
Smith bowls three times a week, all at Sportsman’s Bowl. He competes in the Sportsman’s Majors Monday nights, the Capital District All Star league Thursday nights and the Vitalo Classic on Saturdays. He is averaging between 233 and 235 in all three leagues.
He’s also been the secretary of the Capital District All Star League for more than 20 years.
“I used to bowl in the Boulevard Classic on Tuesday nights, but I’ve had some knee problems, and I just couldn’t bowl on back-to-back nights,” said Smith. “Plus, it gets pretty expensive to bowl in multiple scratch leagues these days. I was only going to bowl twice a week this year, but I got talked into bowling Saturday nights. At least I have a few days off between bowling nights.”
The Mohonasen High School graduate and Schenectady resident has recorded 52 300 games. That 837 triple was the 16th 800 of his career and was 10 pins shy of his all-time high.
“I have enough power, but sometimes, I have timing issues,” he said. “It feels really good at times, and Saturday night was one of those nights. It’s funny, because a lot of people tell me I have a smooth
release, so I guess I do.”
Smith was basically self-taught when he started bowling in high school. Later, he worked with former PBA touring pro and current Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show.” color analyst Kenny Hall.
“I worked a lot with Kenny at his old pro shop off of 890, and he really helped my game,” Smith said.
“The highlight of my career was back-to-back 300 games a few years ago. I used to bowl in couple of Huck Finn tournaments, but I haven’t bowled in tournaments in quite some time. I’m planning on bowling some Huck Finns this year, though, and maybe I’ll bowl in the New Era Senior Tour events, now that I’m 50.”
Smith, who uses Storm bowling equipment exclusively these days, enjoys the new synthetic surface at Sportsman’s.
“The conditions are really nice over there. It’s just a matter of carrying,” he said.
Smith wasn’t the only bowler to have a memorable night Saturday in the Vitalo Classic.
Mark Ray, who is now averaging an eye-catching 247, rolled a 1,067 four-game series, his third straight 1,000. He now has 101 career 1,000 series in that league. He also has 30 career Vitalo 300 games and 23 800 triples.
Skip Vigars Jr. rolled his 600th 900 series. He is 200 ahead of the next man on the league leaderboard.
Nick Stricos rolled his 11th 300 and 24th 1,000 series in Vitalo competition.
STRIKES & SPARES The Huck Finn handicap division qualifier will be held Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Spare Time-East Greenbush. All handicap division bowlers who qualified through their league should report there by 12:15. I qualified at two different houses, but won’t be able to compete because I’m covering the Stockade-athon Sunday morning. Probably just as well, since I haven’t bowled well recently in the qualifiers for the TV show.
The next Huck Finn scratch division qualifier will be Saturday at Green Island Lanes at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at Spare Time-Clifton Park. Entry fee is $35, plus season membership, on Saturday and $45, plus season membership, on Sunday. Re-entry is $35. Top prize will be $1,000 guaranteed. Call Jeff Segel at
439-7628 for reservations.
Scott Kilinski rolled his first-ever 300 game in the Turbine Bush league at Boulevard Bowl.
Four tandems qualified for the Huck Finn Over 50/Under 50 doubles finals, to be taped Nov. 17 at Sunset Recreation. George Gorman III with George Gorman Jr., Steve Wagoner with Mike Tryniski, Dan Kryzak with Mark Kepner and Bob Daigneault with Tom Walsh Jr. all advanced.
The Northern Bowlers Association’s 2013-1014 season kicks off Nov. 17 at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy at 9:30 a.m. The Troy stop will be the first of five events on the NBA calendar this season, which will conclude on May 4 at Del Lanes with the Bob Guild Memorial Championship. Bowlers need to compete in at least one tournament and have their $15 membership fee paid to be eligible for the Guild event. As in past years, each Sunday winner will be determined by total pins after five games. Entry fee is $55. The NBA will offer a special women’s division at this year’s Stockade Open Dec. 1 at
Boulevard Bowl, and at Sunset Lanes for the Riverfront Insuring Agency Classic.
Following are the winners in the Schenectady-Scotia USBA WBA 27th annual Senior Singles Tournament at Sportsman’s Bowl: Shirley Burgess (712 in Class AA), Phyllis Washburn (703 in Class A), Gail Browning (736 in Class B), Dawn Jacob (748 in Class C), Kathlene Hunt (776 in Class D) and Michelle Duchowny (693 in Class E).
For bowling fans who enjoy playing video games on their mobile devices, Concrete Software released a new version of its PBA Bowling Challenge game for iPhone and iPad users in the iTunes app store. The “official game of the PBA” features actual tournaments, oil patterns, bowling balls and legendary PBA bowlers who are faithfully represented throughout the game’s extensive career mode.
When the PBA begins its television coverage Dec. 1 on ESPN, fans will get the chance to see what oil conditions the competitors will face, as blue dye will be added to the lane conditioning oil for the five PBA World Series of Bowling championship events.