Section: Sports,  Page: C4

Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It shouldn't be about the money or the TV. The issue here is commitment, and several area bowlers failed to keep one Sunday night.

Five of the eight players scheduled to participate in a "Capital Region Bowling" taping at Olympic Lanes arrived late because they competed in the Joe Donato Scratch Singles tournament at Sportsman's.

The doubles semifinals and final of the Huck Finn/Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York-sponsored event didn't get under way until 8 p.m., two hours later than scheduled, and then only three of the four teams were present.

Tournament organizers scrambled to adjust the format, and because Ron Unser and Nunzi Manuli hadn't arrived by 8 p.m., the show went on without them.

"(Mike) Drexel, (Joe) Mazuryk, Unser, Manuli and (Al) Waschuk, none of them called me to tell me that they were going to be late," said Carol Judge, executive director of the NBPONY. "Tom Donato (director of the Scratch Singles tournament) and I had an open line. We spoke at least five times because I was trying to gauge when they were going to get done. Once we had three teams, and we hadn't heard from Unser and Manuli, we decided to go with it."

Unser, who advanced to the semifinals of the Donato event, said he understood that the TV taping was going to wait for the bowlers in Schenectady. He said Marvin Sontz, president of the proprietors' group, told Manuli and Mazuryk that on Thursday.

"That's not what I said," Sontz said. "I told them we probably could go to 6:30, but how far we could go from there, I don't know. It's up to Artie (Hunsinger, executive producer of the TV show)."

Unser and Manuli were given $250 each, which they would have won had they bowled and lost their opening match. In the adjusted format, Drexel and Mazuryk met Waschuk and Sherman Bowman ("He was there at 5 o'clock like he should have been," Judge said) in a two-game match. The winner took on Scott Rogers and Leo Lynch, who were seeded first based on qualifying scores, in a one-game final.

Some fault has to lie with the proprietors. There was some confusion over the taping date, and the group's Web site doesn't have a taping schedule beyond Dec. 14. "Capital Region Bowling" also has a growing reputation for not taping on time.

"I drove to Middleburgh in the middle of a snowstorm (for a TV taping)," Unser said, "and I had to wait for an extra hour to tape my show because the TV crew was eating."

Still, the eight bowlers who qualified knew the date for the TV taping. The proprietors have done a tremendous service for the area's scratch bowlers by creating a television forum.

The bowlers need to appreciate that more.

National news

Unlike golf, whose annual match-play event seems to allow the obscure to rise to the top, the PBA's venture into bracketed bowling last week produced two of the sport's biggest stars, Chris Barnes and Walter Ray Williams Jr., in its televised final. The three-game format brought back memories of "Championship Bowling." Someone should explain to ESPN announcer Rob Stone, whose parents probably hadn't been born when "Championship Bowling" aired, that the individual components are called games, not matches. This is one format that might be worth bringing back next season. ... Athens' Brian LeClair lost his opening match in the PBA event at Norwich. Conn., to Michael Fagan, 4-1. LeClair remains 61st on the PBA points list.

Local scene

Entries were down considerably for the Donato tournament -- approximately 300, compared to 469 last year. Tom Donato said the timing of some of the qualifying squads may have factored in. You probably can cite the economy, too, especially since the entry fee is up to $45 ($55 on the final day), discouraging many players from bowling multiple squads. Ray Cyr of New Hartford won the $4,000 top prize. ... Stephen Donahue, a 54-year-old Weedsport man convicted with embezzling $272,000 from the New York State Bowling Association, was sentenced last week to 3-9 years in prison. Donahue was manager of the state association for 23 years.

Pete Dougherty's column is published Tuesdays during the bowling season. Items to be considered for publication can be submitted by fax (454-5819) or e-mail (pdougherty@timesunion.com).


This week's area events

Huck Finn/NBPONY qualifying: Singles scratch† 1/3 p.m. Saturday Redwood (Jeff Segel) 9:30/11:30 a.m. Sunday Uncle Sam (439-7628) † -- finals follow late Sunday qualifying squad.

Blizzard Bowl: Four-person team handicap § 11:30 a.m. Sunday Boulevard (374-4171) § -- additional squads April 5, 18


300 games


Bowler Center Series 300s

Anthony Alix Boulevard Bowl     695

Marcel Brisson Town 'n Country     772

Joe DeVellis Town 'n Country 1,136*

Brandon Davis Spare Time-Latham     729

Katie Duncan Town 'n Country 1,020*

Devan Hodlick Green Island     756

Henry Montgomery Town 'n Country     731

Eddie Plew Del Lanes 1,037* 1st

Jack Scaccia Jr. Town 'n Country 1,013*

Scott Wells Ravena Strike Zone     741

John Zolner Town 'n Country     985*

* -- four-game series (all others three games)