Scott Gregory rolled his sixth career perfect game and ninth 800 triple this past Monday in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League at Towne Bowling Academy. They were notable personal milestones in his favorite sport, but his exploits were more meaningful for a different reason.
Three years ago, the Mohonasen High School graduate struggled to get out of bed and walk more than a few feet. He was in agony, and his plummeting scores on the lanes were the least of his concerns.
“My teammates were calling it ‘the mystery disease,’ ” Gregory recalled. “I was having difficulty getting up out of chairs, and it hurt just to get out of bed. I remember it all sort of came to a head when we made a trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., to see a North Carolina basketball game in 2015. We were walking to the gym from the parking lot, and I couldn’t keep up with my buddies. I was way back. I knew I had to call the doctor and have it checked out.”
Eventually, Gregory’s doctors discovered that he had a severe form of arthritis. He was treated with chemotherapy infusions and still takes meds for his affliction.
“Things are pretty good right now. My mobility is back,” said the 42-year-old New York state employee who studied communications at Ithaca College and finance at Siena College. “I ended up missing at least half of two different seasons because of the arthritis condition. I really missed bowling and competing with my teammates.”
Gregory is back on the same team he used to compete on for more than a decade. He was always paired with members of the legendary Donato bowling family, including the late Tom Donato and his sons, Joel and Tommy Jr. Tom Donato used to coach him in baseball, and Gregory has been so close to the Donato clan over the years that he’s treated like an adopted member of the family.
“If I can’t spend the holidays with my own family for some reason, I usually spend it with the Donatos,” Gregory said.
Monday night was a breakthrough performance for Gregory, who has kept his average in the 220s for most of his career.
“I’ve been pretty much a steady bowler in the 220s, and my goal is to get back in the 230s and stay there,” he said. “I’m just about there now in this league after Monday night.”
Gregory’s most memorable bowling accomplishment was when he rolled back-to-back 279s and added a 300 for a whopping 858 triple a few years ago before the arthritis took over his body.
He was almost as excited this week. Monday, using his Roto Grip Idol ball, Gregory recorded his first 300 game in quite some time during the opener, but his line started to break down in the second game.
“In the second game, I would double, get a split, double again, and get a spare,” he said. “I had been bowling with a down-and-in line during the first game, but I had to move left and hook the ball more by the time the third game came around. I almost shot a pair of 300s with two different lines.”
Gregory, who also bowls on the Edgewood Independent league on Thursday nights, ended up with a 206 in his second game and then strung the first 11 shots in his finale. It looked like he might get a second perfect game in the same night.
“I knew I needed a double in the 10th frame to get my 800 triple,” he noted. “The 300 games are great, but I take even more pride in an 800 triple. When I got the 11th strike, I think I let up a bit. I ended up leaving three pins on my final shot for the 297.”
Gregory credits Action Bowling Supply pro shop operator Matt Fazzone with drilling up his equipment, which used to be predominately Storm products until he purchased his Idol last May.
“Matt knows my game. I’m not that big on what all the new equipment does,” Gregory said. "It feels great to be helping out my team again."
FAREWELL JOHN HUHN
The bowling community lost a good friend last week with the passing of John Huhn. The 65-year-old Huhn was a huge fan of local bowling and loved to watch keglers of all abilities, especially tournament bowlers.
Huhn was a longtime employee of the NY state Tax Department and also worked part-time in the mail room and as a delivery man for The Daily Gazette. He was a member of the Old Timers Baseball Club and was quite an expert on local sports history, especially high schools. He could beat most “experts” in a local sports trivia contest.
Huhn loved to ride a bike. He and his wife made a huge cross-country bike trek from New York to California many years ago. Until his health started to fail, he still rode a bike often around Schenectady.
What most people didn’t know is that Huhn was quite a scratch bowler in his youth. He was one of the better bowlers in the Schenectady league but hadn’t picked up a ball in more than three decades.
STRIKES & SPARES
Former PBA Tour member Kenny Hall is now available Monday nights from 4-7 p.m. to drill balls at Towne Bowling Academy. He is also available by appointment.
Willis Bickford (U20 boys) defeated Brandon Vallone (U20 boys) 184-147 to win his first Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour title and $195 in scholarships Saturday at Del Lanes. Vallone earned $110 in scholarships. Nate Purches and Zachary Bogholtz were third and fourth, respectively.
Laura Gregus of Mechanicville won the Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York tournament for bowlers with averages under 215 Sunday at East Greenbush Bowling Center. She pocketed $500. Octogenarian Clyde Winney finished second and picked up $240.
Towne Bowling Academy hosts its annual Scratch Challenge Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. BowlerX will be the title sponsor. Entry fee is $80, and first place will be $1,000, based on 60 entries. One in five bowlers will cash. The format will be five games of qualifying, with the top five advancing to the stepladder finals. Contact Tom Earl, Tommy Donato or Towne Bowling Academy for more information.
Top prize will be $4,000 for the Nut & Bolt Scratch Mixed Doubles tournament Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. at Green Island Lanes. Entry fee is $300 per team. The format will be six games of qualifying before lunch and then Baker-style head-to-head matches with 30 bonus pins for a win. The total pin leaders make the stepladder finals. Payout will be one in four teams. Call Green Island Lanes at 518-273-2322 for more information.
The next Schenectady USBC Board of Directors meeting will be Sunday at 6 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].