Now that he’s just about fully recovered from last year’s back surgery, B.J. Rucinski feels comfortable bowling on the lanes, drilling in the pro shop and coaching from the cheap seats.
The 44-year-old Colonie native is on a hot streak recently, tossing a pair of 300 games and either leading or finishing near the top of the standings for several weeks in the high-powered Capital District All Star league at Sportsman’s Bowl. He also bowls Tuesday nights, and enjoys competing with his daughter in an adult-child league. Recently, he filled in as a sub Monday nights in the Sportsman’s Majors, where he just picked up another perfect game.
When Rucinski isn’t knocking down the pins, he’s drilling balls in the pro shop for Bob Tedesco Jr., who owns the pro shop and is part owner of Sportsman’s. This season, Rucinski took over from Tedesco as head coach of the Mohonasen High School boys’ bowling team. Rucinski was previously the JV coach for eight years.
These days, Rucinski is an extremely busy man. His day job is as the vice president of Camelot Print & Copy, but he’s also been working in the pro shop for 12 years, and that part of his bowling duties is very taxing during the holidays, when so many people purchase new equipment. Throw in his new role as head coach for the Mohonasen team, and it’s easy to see why Rucinski must keep a tight schedule.
Rucinski got a late start in the game. Unlike most of his peers, he didn’t bowl in the junior programs.
“I didn’t start bowling until I was 21 years old,” he said. “I played golf and baseball for the high school team. My father was in a league at Sunset, and he asked me to join one year, so I did. Since my father had a horseshoe pitch, and we always played a lot of darts, I had good hand-eye coordination from the very beginning. My father showed me how to bowl, and I used go bowling on snow days in school. Besides my father, I also got some pointers from Kenny Hall.”
Rucinski’s late start didn’t hinder him.
“I have speed and rotation, but I would say my hand-eye coordination helps me the most in this game,” he said. “I like to hook it inside, but I can go straight when I need to. This year, I slowed things down, so I wouldn’t hurt myself. It’s easier to repeat my shots that way. I’m kind of going through the motions, and not putting too much on the ball. I didn’t touch a ball from April to November last year, and now I’m trying to be careful. I even use a personal trainer to strengthen that back issue.”
Despite letting up a little bit in the power department, Rucinski is still a force when everything clicks. He’s thrown 34 perfect games and recorded 23 800 triples. He once averaged as high as 242 in an adult-child league, but adds his highest average in an adult league was a 236 at his home house. He’s currently averaging 233 in the Sportsman’s Majors.
Among his most noteworthy accomplishments are bowling on television with his grandmother in the old Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York’s Capital Region Huck Finn Bowling Show. He appeared four times in Huck Finn tournaments.
Rucinski rolled back-to-back perfect games earlier this season and is a regular at the USBC Nationals.
He won the Schenectady USBC team event with Jeff Kallner, Eric Hilton and Jason Deitz, and he also won the Schenectady USBC doubles crown when he competed with his dad, Bill. They both had the first eight strikes in one game, with his father shooting a 279, while B.J. tossed a perfect game.
His foray into the pro shop business also came late in life.
“I was bowling with Bobby Tedesco in the Tuesday night Classic, and I told him I would love to know what made bowling balls do what they do,” Rucinski said. “He needed some help, and for an entire summer, I went in with him a couple nights a week. I plugged and resurfaced some kids’ bowling balls, and the more I got into it, the more I really liked it. I liked learning about the RGs [Radius of Gyration] and pin differentials. It was interesting.”
After graduating from Colonie High School, Rucinski went to Hudson Valley CC for business management. He began his own DJ business at the now-defunct Bowlers Club, sold insurance for a brief time, and also was in the siding and windows business before starting to work in the copy/print business in 1995.
Although he’s enjoying his solid bowling of late, Rucinski, who does a lot of charity work for the American Cancer Society, says he gets the most enjoyment from helping others improve their games.
“Right now, the fun part is drilling balls to help others with their game,” he said. “I love drilling something and seeing someone bowl well with it. I also love coaching the kids. I’ve known a lot of them since they were in seventh and eighth grade. Now that I’m the varsity coach, it’s even more fun to see them excel.”
SCHENECTADY USBC UPDATE
The next two tournaments on the Schenectady USBC tournament calendar are the Youth Team Tournament, Feb. 9 at Towne Bowling Academy, and the Open Tournament, Feb. 7-16, at Boulevard Bowl.
Entries for the Youth Team Tournament close Feb. 2. Squad times are 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Entry fee is $12 per bowler. There will be a girls’ team division, two boys’ teams divisions (601 and over team average in Class A, 600 and under team average in Class B) and a mixed division (551 team average in Class A, 451-550 team average in Class B and 450 and under team average in Class C).
The Open Tournament is a three-person team handicap event, with $1,200 for first place, based on 80 teams. One in eight teams will cash in the handicap division. There are also $10 optional singles scratch, singles handicap and team scratch events. Brackets will be available for both scratch and handicap bowlers.
Entry fee is $25 per player for the team handicap event. The squad times are Feb. 7 (2:30 p.m.), Feb. 8 (9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.), Feb. 14 (6 p.m.), Feb. 15 (2:30 p.m.) and Feb. 16 (9:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.).
STRIKES & SPARES
Juniors will have plenty of competition available in the month of January. Both the Pepsi USBC Youth Championships, which have qualifying for the entire month, and the NYS Youth Scholarship Tournament that is going on through Jan. 15, have in-house qualifying events. Check your local center for entry blanks and more information on how to sign up.
Reservations are filling up fast for the Scratch Doubles tournament Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls. There are already 32 teams signed up. The field is limited to 63 teams. Top prize is $2,000. Qualifying will be five games across 10 lanes. One in five teams advance to the single-game bracket finals. Entry fee is $180 per team.
Speaking of Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center, Revolutions Pro Shop proprietor Brian LeClair, a longtime PBA Tour standout and former PBA50 Player of the Year, won that center’s New Year’s Day tournament for the second consecutive year and pocketed $3,000. He also teamed with Sam Ventura to win the doubles title. There were 83 entries.
Sportsman’s Bowl hosts the next Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour event Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Del Picard shot a 799 handicap total (781 scratch) to win the Green Island Lane New Year’s Day Tournament. Lefty Joey Herrington was second with a 793 handicap total (712 scratch).
Towne Bowling Academy’s 10th annual Handicap Team Tournament continues Friday at 9 p.m., as well as Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. In total, there will be 23 squads over 14 days through Jan. 26. Top prize will be $4,000 guaranteed. There also will be an optional singles event, using your team score. First place for the singles event will be $450. A 3-6-9 jackpot and a scratch high game jackpot also will be available. Entry fee is $40 per person for the team event, $15 for optional singles and $10 for the 3-6-9 and high-game jackpots. Handicap will be 90% of 225, with a maximum of 50 pins per game. Call 518-355-3606 for more information.
The next Amateur Bowlers Association of New York singles tournament will be held Jan. 12 at Town & Country Lanes at 9:30 a.m.
Hometown Lanes in Mechanicville hosts the sixth annual Women’s Capital District 700 Tournament Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. The event is open to all women who have bowled a 700 triple in the Troy, Albany or Schenectady adult association. Entry forms are available at Boulevard Bowl, Towne Bowling Academy and Sportsman’s Bowl. Contact Diane Morrell (518-664-8119) for more information.
Boulevard Bowl will host a Rock N Bowl Fundraiser for the Albany Veterans Club Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. (noon registration). Bowling for the five-person team tournament is just $10 per person. A few NFL players are expected to be on hand to sign some autographs and there will be a drawing for two Super Bowl game tickets (not including hotel or airfare). Those tickets are currently available at Boulevard for $25. For more information, call Boulevard at 518-374-4171.
Sportsman’s Bowl is hosting a Ladies 500 Club Snowball Bowl Scotch Doubles Tournament Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. Entry forms are available a Boulevard Bowl, Towne Bowling Academy and Sportsman’s Bowl. For additional information, contact Marie Moorhead at 518-399-3063.
Town & Country Lanes’ fourth annual 5-Man Baker Tournament is scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m. Entry fee is $150 per team. Format is 12 games to qualify, with the top six advancing to best-of-three match play. Top prize is $750, based on 20 teams. Handicap is 80% of 240.
The 26th annual Capital District 600 Clubs Tournament is set for Jan. 25 at noon at East Greenbush Bowling Center. Participants must be a member of the Electric City 600, Capital City 600 or Troy 600 Clubs. Entry forms are available at Boulevard Bowl, Sportsman’s Bowl and Towne Bowling Academy. Bowlers who have rolled a 600 triple and are not yet a member of the Electric City 600 Club should contact Marianne Hogle (518-393-8907).
Sportsman’s Bowl’s rescheduled 5-Man Baker Tournament will be held Jan. 19 at noon. Entry fee is $175 per team. First place will be $1,000. Six teams will advance to the finals after the 12-game qualifier. Handicap will be based on 90% of a 240 average.
Uncle Sam Lanes hosts its Superbowl Bakers Doubles Tournament Feb. 2 at 11 a.m. Entry fee is $80 per team. There will be eight games of alternate-frames baker style.
B.J. Smith tossed a 279-762, Mike Guidarelli hammered a 752, Jim Bassotti ripped a 739, Bob Tedesco Jr. slammed a 737, Jim Petronis also rolled a 737 and B.J. Rucinski shot a 300 game en route to a 736 to lead the Sportsman’s Majors Monday night at Sportsman’s Bowl.
In the Amsterdam Men’s City league at Kelly’s Imperial Lanes Monday night, Billy McGaffin Jr. shot a 297-809 triple, George Savoie connected for a 266-705, Tim Grant shot a 239-698, Chad Chiara ripped a 247-691 and Gene Piurek had a 256-685.
The Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League was postponed because of the ice storm Monday night at Towne Bowling Academy. Both the Frank DePalma Boulevard Classic Tuesday at Boulevard Bowl and the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Mixed leagues Wednesday at Towne Bowling Academy were off because of the holiday.
Metroland Photo 4-0, Muny Grille 3-1, Next Level Detailing 3-1, Team No. 5 3-1, Universal Auto Parts 3-1, Mike’s Hot Dogs 3-1 Madison Grille 1-3, Team No. 10 13, Bob’s Pro Shop 1-3, The Appliance Specialist 1-3, Klonowski’s Pro Shop 1-3, I.D.I.D. 0-4.
The Appliance Specialist (1)
Mike Liberatore 244-229-206 — 679, Melissa Bogholtz 204-226-225 — 655, Zach Gravell 248-247-211 — 706, Chris Fawcett 223-234-234 — 691. Totals: 919-936-876 — 2,731.
Team No. 5 (3)
B.J. Rucinski Jr. 173-300-263 — 736, Bill Carl 202-190-247 — 639, Kalynn Carl 204-249-214 — 667, Justin Carl 259-280-192 — 731. Totals: 838-1,019-916 — 2,773.
Tony Fernandez 171-174-210 — 555, Flash Gordon 173-168-135 — 476, Jim Valentino 179-184-203 — 566, A.J. Perone 224-181-254 — 659. Totals: 747-707-802 — 2,256.
Metroland Photo (4)
Lee Quivey 172-161-221 — 554, Steve Renzi 184-218-202 — 604, Mike Gallitelli 279-223-197 — 699, B.J. Smith Jr. 204-279-279 — 762. Totals: 839-881-899 — 2,619.
Universal Auto Parts (3)
Andy Smith 256-227-180 — 663, Dave Henderson 269-203-249 — 721, Chris Smith 214-219-216 — 649, Chris Fedden 266-237-205 — 708. Totals: 1,005-886-850 — 2,741.
Klonowski’s Pro Shop (1)
Doug Bywater 171-277-184 — 632, Ted Klonowski Jr. 180-192-181 — 553, Vince Simoni 248-182-148 578, Jim Petronis 254-258-225 — 737. Totals: 853-909-738 — 2,500.
Mike’s Hot Dogs (3)
Doug Semerad 225-268-233 — 726, Earl Lawrence Jr. 258-217-242 — 717, Mike Giaquinto 299-203-183 — 685, Kevin Palmer 241-188-198 — 627. Totals: 1,023-876-856 — 2,755.
Madison Grille (1)
Nick Kallner 224-25-185 — 666, Eric Hilton 211-234-212 — 657, John Leone 279-237-172 — 688, Chris Mazone 193-223-178 — 594. Totals: 907-951-747 — 2,605.
Next Level Detailing (3)
Mike Guidarelli 258-248-246 — 752, Jim Bassotti 206-278-255 — 739, Jim Parker 223-233-215 — 671, Matt Swiatocha 186-225-192 — 603. Totals: 873-984-908 — 2,765.
Bob’s Pro Shop (1)
Fred McMahon 238-192-216 — 646, Brian Brown 203-214-203 — 620, Bob Tedesco Jr. 246-265-226 — 737, Mike Smith 258-247-201 — 706. Totals: 945-918-846 — 2,709.
Team No. 0 (1)
Rob Mengel 257-248-193 — 698, Cory Buckley 191-182-236 — 609, Tyler Mochrie 258-235-201 — 694, Matt Olson 208-217-175 — 600. Totals: 914-882-805 — 2,601.
Muny Grille (3)
Jay Diamond 239-233-259 — 731, Dave Bingham 227-168-188 — 583, John Musto Jr. 238-258-179 — 675, Jamie Diamond 225-208-213 — 646. Totals: 929-867-839 — 2,635.
AMSTERDAM MEN’S CITY
Imperial Lanes 76-36, JLD 67-45, Excellent Autos 65-47, Skyview Lounge 60-52, Bob Co. Video 59-53 R&J Sheetmetal 55-57 Advantage Builder 50-62, Kyle’s Bounce Re 50-62, Trim Builders 60-62, Bye 0-0.