Back in the 1960s, when the sport of bowling was in its heyday in the Capital Region and elsewhere, there were few better at it than Harry Polomaine.
A Schenectady native who moved to Simpsonville, South Carolina, in October of last year, Polomaine died early Friday morning at Greenville Memorial Hospital. He was 79.
Inducted into the Schenectady Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1980, Polomaine appeared on the popular television bowling show, "TV Tournament Time" more than 50 times. He rolled 300 games in five different decades and holds a number of SBA records.
"Harry was one of the best in the area, that's for sure," fellow SBA Hall of Famer Rit Carney said of Polomaine. "He had very good coordination, he was very smooth and able to repeat shots. I bowled with him a lot, and as his partner in a lot of tournaments. You couldn't ask for a better partner. He was a great guy, and would do anything for you."
Colonie native Mike Christie, who now lives just outside Phoenix, Arizona, was another of the Capital Region's best who, like Polomaine, became a familiar face to area bowling fans in the 1960s because of their frequent appearances on "TV Tournament TIme."
"He was as good as anybody when we were bowling a lot together back in the 1960s and '70s," said Christie. "We traveled a lot together to bowl, and he was a great guy to travel with. We had some wonderful journeys together, and he was always upbeat. He was always working on his game because he loved to bowl, and he was one of the best."
While Polomaine did enjoy some success on the PBA Tour as a part timer - he cashed four times, including a best finish of 12th at the Rochester PBA Open in 1970 - his most amazing achievement probably came during the 1975-76 season. After having set an SBA record for high average during the 1971-72 season of 221, he broke his own record with a 235 average in the Schenectady Majors at Sportsman's Bowl.
"I can remember people saying, 'Wow, nobody will ever do that again,'" remembered Dave Mennillo Jr., also an SBA Hall of Famer. "He was a great bowler and a great guy. Everybody knew who he was because of 'TV Tournament.' He was a superstar. But he was always a gentleman and always had this willingness to help people."
Nick Miseno Jr. and Marie Mazone, two of the Capital Region's best ever, were growing up in Amsterdam when Polomaine worked for a while at Imperial Lanes back in the late 1970s and early '80s.
"He was very influential in me becoming the bowler that I am today," said Miseno. "I learned a lot of the basics from him, and I don't think I remember anyone saying anything bad about Harry. He was very personable and got along with everybody."
"He was a tremendous help to me, and I loved him so much," said Mazone. "My heart aches to hear that he has passed. He was always a lot of fun to be around and a great asset to the bowling community."
Polomaine was also a high school baseball standout at Mont Pleasant, and had tryouts with the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida, while he was in the U.S. Navy. He hit a home run at Fenway Park in an exhibition game while in the Navy, and also played on the service team in an exhibition game in Texas against a team that included New York Yankee great Mickey Mantle.
"At Fenway Park, he told me how he flipped his bat because he thought it was just a pop up and it ended up going over the Green Monster," said Amelia Polomaine, his wife of 32 years. "He was a great athlete, very fast -- no one was faster -- and he was a very good baseball player. He played shortstop when he was older, but when he was in Schenectady Little League he also pitched a perfect game."
Polomaine, who also excelled on the fastpitch diamond when he stopped playing baseball, had been in ill health for some time, and was checked into Greenville Memorial Hospital in South Carolina a little more than two weeks ago.
Polomaine spent much of his life in the swimming pool industry, and before retiring owned H&A Pools. Funeral arrangements are pending.
"He was a real competitor, but his demeanor was as smooth as his style," said Mennillo.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 518-395-3190, [email protected].