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In the Pocket: Ray is a natural on the lanes

In the Pocket: Ray is a natural on the lanes

Bob Weiner's weekly bowling column
In the Pocket: Ray is a natural on the lanes
Mark Ray
Photographer: Photo Provided

Famed aging actor Robert Redford played the extremely talented, almost magical baseball player Roy Hobbs in the popular 1984 sports movie “The Natural.”

Perhaps Mark Ray would be a good pick to star in a bowling film about a similar natural talent on the lanes.

Since learning the bare basics of how to pick up the ball from his father and older brother Ken when he was just 4-years-old, Ray quickly excelled and developed himself into one of the best bowlers in the Capital Region.

“I don’t like to say it, but bowling came natural to me,” said the 57-year-old Ray, who already averaged 172 when he was in the sixth grade. Remember that scoring back then was 30-40 pins lower in that era than it is today. “They already wanted me on the high school team in sixth grade back then.”

When Ray eventually became old enough to bowl varsity for the Cannoneers, he became a four-time team captain and was the team’s bowler of the year as a senior.

“I never had anyone coach me other than my father and my brother,” Ray said. “My father never rolled a 300 game, but he was a 192-193 average bowler at a time when that average was very good. I just practiced on stuff I got from watching bowling on TV. Plus, I bowled 50 games a week back then.”

Ray eventually joined numerous adult bowling leagues, including a scratch league at Troy Bowl (now Uncle Sam Lanes) and another at Westlawn Lanes, where he bowled with Kim Julien Brown.

One of Ray’s proudest achievements was winning the average title in back-to-back seasons in the now defunct Bowlers’ Club’s Travel League, which included 48 teams and more than 240 bowlers.

“I averaged something like 204 back then,” Ray recalled.

Ray’s natural ability allowed him to adjust his style as the game changed. As a youngster, he took up to 10 steps before releasing the ball. Later, as a young adult, he fired his shots hard and straight. In later years, he has developed the ability to hook the ball moderately and to use most of the more modern equipment.

“When I was growing up, I would stand at the edge of the approach and run to the line, but in the late 1980s, it was hard for me to get the ball down the lanes, and it made me learn how to hook the ball. Now, I can play it straight or hook it. I can play where I need to for any condition. I’m certainly not a cranker. I’m more of a tweener,” Ray said.

Ray is now the secretary for two of the Capital Region’s most competitive scratch leagues, the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League Monday nights at Towne Bowling Academy, and the Vitalo Classic Saturday nights at Sportsman’s Bowl. He’s averaging 241 in the City League — second behind Joe VanDerLinden — and carries a 234 average in the Vitalo Classic, which is currently third.

The ageless Ray figures he’s been a member of 17 championship teams over the years, and he’s captured roughly six or seven average titles, including three in the Vitalo and another in the City League. His career high average was 245.6 one season in the Vitalo.

Ray recently rolled his 88th perfect game, and he also has 75 800 triples.

“I’m bowling with a lot of confidence lately. After many years using Storm equipment, I recently bought a new ball from Karl Wolf,” Ray explained. “He talked me into buying a Global 900 Badger. Since then I’ve already rolled two 299s and that 300 game. Because of my style, where I lean over the foul line, I’ve always had trouble getting the ball down the lane. My new ball gets down the lane and gives me more back end than I’ve ever had. Plus, I’m carrying more light hits. That’s a big advantage.”

Although he doesn’t have the time or interest to compete in tournaments any more, Ray more than demonstrated his abilities on that front by winning 15 Northern Bowlers Association crowns. He finished seventh one year in the prestigious ABC/USBC National Championships, and also was 32nd in all-events.

Ray’s “natural” athletic prowess also includes golf. He carries a 1 handicap in the 300 league at Eagle Crest Golf Club.

“I used to have a big hook or draw in golf with my driver and my irons. I wasn’t happy with that, so I made it a point to watch some videos, and I found something that would help me get rid of the hook,”  he said. “After five or six weeks, my handicap blew up to a 6, but the more I played, the better I got, and eventually I was hitting the pins. At the end of last year, I was down to a 1 handicap, and now I’m looking forward to playing golf again.”

Longtime Vitalo Classic secretary Davey Mennillo, who retired and was replaced by Ray last year, thinks Ray is one of the best around.

“Without a doubt, he is one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the Vitalo Classic,” Mennillo said. “He’s one of the most humble bowlers I have ever had the pleasure of bowling with and a class act on and off the lanes.”

Comparing Ray to Skip Vigars Jr., the all-time greatest Vitalo Classic bowler, Mennillo believes if there were a Mt. Rushmore for that league’s bowlers, Ray would surely be on it.

“Mark holds the league record for most team titles [11], seasonal 900s [29] 300s [40], 1,000s [129] and consecutive 800 four-game series [299],” Mennillo said. “In a few years, he will break Skip’s record of 630 900s. One of the hardest decisions I ever made was to resign as Vitalo Secretary/Treasurer. I couldn’t be happier that the league is in Mark’s hands,” Mennillo added.

FARAGON INVY SET FOR MAY 5

Middleburgh Lanes will be hosting the Middleburgh Lanes Faragon Invitational Scratch Tournament May 5, with squads set for 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Spots are limited as only 24 entries are available for each squad. Entry fee is $60. First place will be $1,000, based on  48 bowlers. The lane condition will be the Cheetah pattern.

Each squad will be a three-game qualifier. The top two from each squad receive first-round byes into the finals. There will be 12 finalists, with four receiving byes. The next eight bowlers will bowl head-to-head in the first round of match play, and then the byes begin play in the second round. For more information, call 518-827-6880 or 518-321-2685.

STRIKES & SPARES

Speaking of Faragon, “Goose” rolled his 132nd perfect game last week.

The NYS Queens Championship will be held Saturday at Saratoga Strike Zone in Saratoga Springs.

Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls is hosting the 83rd annual New York State Women’s Championships. Squads continue today through April 14, April 26-28, May 3-5 and May 17-19.

The revamped New Era Senior Tour will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. Town N Country Lanes. The format will be a five-game sweeper. Age groups have been redefined to what they were a few years ago: 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus. The prize money will be distributed within each division, depending on the amount of entries in that division. Entry fee will be $75. Call Jim Burton at 518-209-4748 for more information.

The 24th annual Blizzard Bowl continues with squads on Sunday and April 28. Entry fee for the four-person team event is $80 per team, and both singles and doubles brackets are available. Top team prize is $2,000. Call 518-374-4171 for more information.

Spare Time Latham hosts the Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York’s “The Main Event” April 28 at 9:30 a.m. Only those bowlers with averages lower than 215 and have competed in two previous singles events are eligible. There will be an expanded prize list, a stepladder finals and a complimentary luncheon buffet included.

MAJOR BOWLING

Natasha Bidwell connected for a 1,039 four-game series, Liz Kuhlkin fired a 1,030, Dave McLear slammed a 1,025 and Scott Rogers delivered a 300 game in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Mixed Doubles league Wednesday night at Towne Bowling Academy.

Steve Wagoner put together an 815 triple, Tony Palumbo slammed a 790 and the trio of  Rogers (773), Marty Capullo Jr. and Bidwell rolled 300 games in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City league Monday night at Towne Bowling Academy.

Jamie Diamond registered a perfect game en route to an 813 triple to pace the Sportsman’s Majors Monday night at Sportsman’s Bowl. Len Reyngoudt also shot a 300 game during a 747, and John Musto ripped a 743.

Joey DeVellis (985), BJ Smith Jr. (975) and Jon DeVarnne (974) topped the Frank DePalma Boulevard Classic Tuesday night at Boulevard Bowl.

REIS GROUP KIM BROWN MEMORIAL CITY LEAGUE

Standings
Falvey Real Estate 27-15, Vito Sindoni & Sons 25.5-15.5, DeCrescente Dist. 25.5-16.5, Mohawk Honda 24.5-17.5, Downs Roofing 23.5-18.5, J&F Lawn Care 23-19, Kristel Mechanic 23-19, 20 North 20-22, Towne Bowling Academy 20-22, Boulevard Bowl 19-23, Driveline Motors 19-23, D&D Lawncare 17-25, Bedrock Construction 14-28, Action Bowling Supply 12-30.
———
Falvey Real Estate (2)
Dan Auricchio 214-167-205 — 586, Ron Unser 244-229-268 — 741, Jeff Young 246-168-210 — 624, Craig Taylor 256-228-218 — 702. Totals: 960-792-901 — 2,653.
Boulevard Bowl (1)
PJ Derenzo 224-214-212 — 650, Craig Smith 244-225-205 — 674, Ken Wilkins 227-216-257 — 700, Zach Gravall 189-233-196 — 618. Totals: 884-888-870 — 2,642.
———
Mohawk Honda (1)
Ed Gumm 201-233-254 — 688, Chip Tashjian 191-176-247 — 614, Ken LaBelle 214-207-215 — 636, Mark Ray 232-258-257 — 747. Totals: 838-874-973 — 2,685.
J&F Lawn Care (2)
Jason Brown 217-257-195 — 665, RJ Martinez 221-235-237 — 693, Nick Stricos 216-179-227 — 622, Steve Hallenbeck 251-215-241 — 707. Totals: 905-886-900 — 2,691.
———
Driveline Moors (1)
Rob Beedleson 194-195-236 — 625, Keith Lawyer 247-203-213 — 663, Dan Rotter 218-225-213 — 656, Tony Palumbo 268-245-277 — 790. Totals: 927-868-939 — 2,734.
Bedrock Construction (2)
Jim Geiger 212-223-248 — 683, Ed McGaffin 205-201-212 — 618, Zack Porter 228-235-258 — 721, Steve Wagoner 258-278-279 — 815. Totals 903-937-997 — 2,837.
———
Vito Sindoni & Son (1)
Scott Chastenay 203-157-193 — 553, Mike DiCerbo 181-194-258 ‑633, Rich Strath 182-213-219 — 614, Joe VanDerLinden 256-228-227 — 711. Totals: 822-792-897 — 2,511.
D&D Lawncare (2)
Karrie Blake 258-234-184 — 676, Laura Rotter 224-235-245 — 704, Bill Judge 236-248-233 — 717, Patti Tenyenhuis 211-216-222 — 649. Totals: 929-933-884 — 2,746.
———
DeCrescente Dist. (2)
Jessica Aiezza 248-203-258 — 709, Mark Kuhlkin 195-205-228 — 628, Scott Rogers  227-300-246 — 773, Liz Kuhlkin 226-203-207 — 636. Totals: 896-911-939 — 2,746.
Kristel Mechanic (1)
Mel Kristel 176-266-221 — 663, Jeff Whitehouse 194-187-247 — 628, Ed White 194-228-183 — 605, Bryan Kelley 230-29-222 — 721. Totals: 794-950-873 — 2,617.
———
Downs Roofing (1)
Chris Tinkle 196-172-206 — 574, Nick Barnes 248-197-290 — 735, Ryan Karabin 250-242-259 — 751, Billy Wigand 244-225-245 — 714. Totals: 938-836-1,000 — 2,774.
Towne Bowling Academy (2)
Tom Earl 218-236-225 — 679, Nunzi Manuli 234-212-214 — 660, Marty Capullo Jr. 300-220-230 — 750, Debbie Capullo 267-217-200 — 684. Totals: 1,019-885-869 — 2,773.
———
20 North (3)
Marc LeClair 224-232-184 — 640, Bob Faragon 233-214 — 447, Scott Gregory 237, Joel Donato 222-209-233 — 664, Tommy Donato 165-204-266 — 635. Totals: 848-878-897 — 2,623.
Action Bowling Supply (0)
Rit Fazzone 138-145-154 — 437, Bob Messick 213-202-203 — 618, Natasha Bidwell 204-300-228 — 732, Matt Fazzone 233-220-222 — 675. Totals: 788-867-807 — 2,462.

FRANK DEPALMA BOULEVARD CLASSIC

Standings
Boulevard Bowl 46-14, Masons Automotive 36.5-23.5, Ledies 35.5-24.5, Town N Country Lanes 34-26, Karner Auto 30-30, D.A. Parisi & Co. 27-33, Team 8 16.5-43.5, Kalpro 14.5-45.5.
———
Team 8 (1)
Mike Nolan 225-184-189-264 — 862, Ray Haupt 200-152-240-158 — 750, Tony Bianchi 187-165-227-225 — 804. Totals: 612-501-656-647 — 2,416.
Boulevard Bowl (4)
Zachary Gravell 220-203 — 423, Brian Hart 212-225-268-234 — 939, Terry Ra 203-197-199-214 — 813, Craig Smith 196-136 — 332. Totals: 611-558-687-651 — 2,507.
Town N Country Lanes (4)
Jake Shank 234-194-239-178 — 845, Joey DeVellis 239-236-242-268 — 985, Jack Scaccia Jr. 193-214-180-215 — 802. Totals: 666-644-661-661 — 2,632.
Ledies (1)
Lee Quivey 259-216-215-228 — 918, Mark Hansen 216-181-183-216 — 796, Dan Bryk 199-225-199-201 — 824. Totals: 674-622-597-645 — 2,538.
———
D.A. Parisi & Co. (5)
John Mecca 185-233-226-246 — 890, Jeff Williams 214-202-189-161 — 766, Ken Wilkins 257-218-256-190 — 921. Totals: 656-653-671-597 — 2,577.
Kalpro (0)
Keith Lawyer 219-222-179-214 — 834, Joe Carusone 221-182-181-203 ­  787, Phil Scacchetti 212-168-146-155 — 681. Totals: 652-572-506-572 — 2,302.
———
Masons Automotive (3)
Ron Williams 253-255-204-217 — 929, Robin Fredenburgh 258-217-203-224 — 902, B.J. Smith Jr. 236-279-227-233 — 975. Totals: 747-751-634-674 — 2,806.
Karner Auto (2)
Vince Villano 210-175-204-234 — 823, Bryan Delehanty Jr. 14-163-258-174 — 737, Jon DeVarnne 203-235-246-290 — 974. Totals: 555-573-708-698 — 2,534.

REIS GROUP KIM BROWN MEMORIAL MIXED DOUBLES

Standings
A Touch of Country Florist 195-105, Sindoni Sausage 188.5-111.5, Towne Bowling Academy 179.5-120.5, GPS Transport 174-126, Pete’s Auto 171-129, Capital District Mobile Vet 168-132, Next Level Detailing 160-140, Action Bowling Supply 159.5-140.5, Strike & Spare Pro Shop 157.5-142.5, Home Town Pub 151.5-148.5, Limitless Plumbing 145-155, DeCrescente Dist. 141.5-158.5, Bellevue Builder 141.5-158.5, Debra Lamay Agency 139.5-160.5, Marcella’s Appliance 139-161, MAC Tools 129.5-170.5, Battenkill Motor 127-173, Fifteen Church 119.5-180.5, DeNooyer 112-188, A Plus Heating 97-203.
———
Battenkill Motor (12)
Laura Rotter 218-218-178-192 — 806, Dan Rotter 230-250-167-200 — 847. Totals: 448-468-345-392 — 1,653.
Fifteen Church (8)
Aliyah Liberatore 199-154-140-190 — 683, Ben Empie 159-136-170-193 — 658. Totals: 358-290—310-383 — 1,341.
———
DeNooyer (10)
Michelle Largeteau 113-146-122-131 — 512, Bill Migliani 234-253-205-178 — 870. Totals: 347-399-327-309 — 1,382.
A Plus Heating (10)
Felicia Campanella 159-211-201-178 — 753, Michael Schmitt 123-152-163-193 — 631. Totals: 282-363-368-371 — 1,384.
———
A Touch of Country Florist (13)
Janelle Irvin 279-231-199-267 ­ 976, Steve Irwin 227-257-237-201 — 922. Totals: 506-48-436-468 — 1,898.
Sindoni Sausage (7)
Liz Kuhlkin 279-278-238-235 — 1,030, Joe VanDerLinden 247-248-181-226 — 902. Totals: 526-526-419-461 — 1,932.
———
GPS Transport (7)
Matt Swiatocha 224-183-237-180 — 824, Kim Swiatocha 224-224-258-197 — 903. Totals: 448-407-495-377 — 1,727.
Towne Bowling Academy (13)
Debbie Capullo 216-218-208-234 — 876, Ryan Gahan 245-197-217-227 — 886. Totals: 461-415-425-461 — 1,762.
———
Capital District Mobile Vet (4.5)
Chris Allen-Valenzuela 249-203-198-231 — 881, John Askew 206-211-242-234 — 893. Totals: 455-414-440-465 ‑ 1,774.
Pete’s Auto (15.5)
Jenn Schissler 223-215-213-268 — 919, Chuckie Schissler 181-246-219-243 — 889. Totals: 404-461-432-511 — 1,808.
———
Strike & Spare Pro Shop (7)
Jackie Malone 205-196-231-231 ‑863, Paul Dumas 237-217-204-213 — 871. Totals: 442-413-435-444 — 1,734.
Action Bowling Supply (13)
Jordan Byrnes 225-235-229-235 — 924, Kenny Livengood 235-212-249-210 — 906. Totals: 460-447-478-445 — 1,830.
———
Next Level Detailing (14)
Natasha Bidwell 278-256-237-268 — 1,039, JP Harrell 221-215-278-256 — 970. Totals: 499-471-515-524 — 2,009.
Limitless Plumbing (6)
Lindsey McPhail 279-258-225-210 — 872, Dave McLear 279-236-267-243 — 1,025. Totals: 458-494-492-453 — 1,897.
———
Home Town Pub (14.5)
Nicole D’Amario 202-230-213-216 — 863, Tom Rogers 225-245-279-202 — 951. Totals: 429-474-492-418 — 1,814.
Bellevue Builder (5.5)
Ursula Pasquerella 217-196-230-276 — 919, Bill Nolan 165-239-219-189 — 812. Totals: 382-435-449-465 — 1,731.
———
Debra Lamay Agency (8)
Amber Dominic 248-213-220-215 — 896, Chris Charron 181-165-168-220 — 734. Totals: 429-378-388-435 — 1,630.
DeCrescente Dist. (12)
Jessica Aiezza 217-256-210-184 — 867, Scott Rogers 231-300-202-233 — 966. Totals: 448-556-412-417 — 1,833.
———
Marcella’s Appliance (14)
Jessica Brockmyer 223-217-198-259 — 897, Chad Sutliff 200-257-232-201 — 890. Totals: 423-474-43-460 — 1,787.
MAC Tools (6)
Kylie Pasquerella 158-247-203-196 — 804, Keith Diamante 244-216-185-208 — 853. Totals: 402-463-388-404 — 1,657.

SPORTSMAN’S MAJORS

Standings
Muny Grille 48.5-15.5, Guidarelli’s Liquor 37-27, Mazone’s Heating 39.5-24.5, Madison Grille 36-28, Metroland Photo 36-28, Mike’s Hot Dogs 36-28, Universal Auto Parts 32-32, Sauce Baseball 27-37, Mohawk Tap Room 25-39, The Appliance Specialist 26-38, IDID 14-50, Klonowski’s Pro Shop 27-37.
———
Sauce Baseball (3)
Fred McMahon 194-219-267 — 680, Brian Brown 172-215-161 — 548, Bob Tedesco Jr. 196-199-216 — 611, Mike Smith 226-269-203 — 698. Totals: 788-902-847 — 2,537.
The Appliance Specialist (1)
Steve Alexander 191-210-160 — 561, Terry Ray 191-195-212 — 598, Chris Fawcett 266-229-191 — 686, Vacant 200-200-200 — 600. Totals: 848-834-763 — 2,445.
———
IDID (2)
Tony Fernandez 279-178-154 — 611, Flash Gordon 154-158-224 — 536, Jim Valentino 199-237-201 — 637, AJ Perone 193-220-214 — 627. Totals: 825-793-793 — 2,411.
Klonowski’s Pro Shop (2)
Doug Bywater 187-203-210 — 600, Cliff Ruth 194-176-263 — 633, Vince Simoni 183-162-205 — 550, Jim Petronis 204-236-222 — 662. Totals: 768-777-900 — 2,445.
———
Muny Grille (4)
Jay Diamond 204-227-232 — 663, Dave Bingham 236-225-225 — 686, John Musto Jr. 237-254-252 — 743, Jamie Diamond 300-226-287 — 813. Totals: 977-932-996 — 2,905.
Guidarelli’s Liquor (0)
Mike Guidarelli 24-245-244 — 713, Jim Bassotti 232-193-256 — 681, Jim Parker 236-247-247 ­ 730, Matt Swiatocha 247-239-216 — 702. Totals: 939-924-963 — 2,826.
———
Mohawk Grill (1)
Nick Kallner 236-219-213 — 668, Eric Hilton 203-216-175 — 594, Bill Carl 238-221-213 — 672, Jason Deitz 217-224-184 — 625. Totals: 894-880-785 ‑2,559.
Mazone’s Heating (3)
Joe Paone 219-224-211 — 654, Chris Mazone 246-204-215 — 665, Len Reyngoudt 236-211-300  ‑ 747, Ryan Gahan 279-190-237 — 706. Totals: 980-829-963 — 2,772.
———
Metroland Photo (3)
Lee Quivey 197-225-224 — 64, Mike Kamm 179-256-237 — 672, Steve Renzi 222-268-205 — 695, Mike Gallitelli 224-173-179 — 576. Totals: 822-922-845 — 2,589.
Universal Auto Parts (1)
Andy Smith 236-186-174 — 595, Dave Henderson 237-256-221 — 714, Keith Livengood 186-191-205 — 582, Chris Fedden 266-171-223 — 660. Totals: 925-804-823 — 2,552.
———
Mike’s Hot Dogs (4)
Doug Semerad 247-172-184 — 603, Tammy Sader 184-193-216 — 593, John Leone 205-225-234 — 664, Kevin Palmer 215-247-259 — 721. Totals: 851-837-893 ‑2,581.
Mohawk Tap Room (0)
Brett Rozniewski 170-225-210 — 605, Walt Jones 206-175-224 — 605, Joe Rozniewski Jr. 199-226-212 — 637, Christian Chiarito 205-184-201 — 590. Totals: 780-

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeineri58 on Twitter.

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