Years from now a sports trivia question will be: Who was the first woman to bowl in a PBA Tour event and who was her opponent?
Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, of course, made the breakthrough in this week's PBA Uniroyal Open in Wickliffe, Ohio, earning a berth with 63 men via a qualifier. She lost to Brad Angelo of Lockport in Thursday's first round of match play.
The scenario put Angelo in a difficult position, almost as difficult as when he stood in the way of good friend Tom Baker's route to the PBA World Championship last March.
"Liz and I have been friends for 10-12 years now. We bowled each other throughout the summer," Angelo explained. "When I found out I had to bowl her, I was pretty excited for her, but to be honest, I knew that I had to stay on my toes because it was not going to be a shoo-in. She likes to play the part of the lane that this particular oil pattern forces you to play, which is outside. She's really good at that."
Angelo didn't necessarily agree that Johnson should have been considered a heavy underdog going into their match, pointing out Liz's experience with dealing with spotlight pressure on the women's pro tour.
"She had one 300 game on television, she had 11 titles on the women's tour and 40 TV appearances," Angelo said. "You tell me who the underdog is."
Liz averaged 213 in the match, Angelo 232.7. Johnson proved to be a tough out. Facing a 3-1 deficit in games, Johnson extended the match by throwing a 278 game in Game Five against Brad's 230.
"She changed balls and she got lined up and threw the ball great," Angelo said. "But out here the oil wears down so fast . . . I think she just missed a little bit of the transition that happened at the end of (the fifth) game. When we got to Game Six, she really only made one bad shot -- a split. Otherwise we might be bowling Game Seven."
Angelo appreciates how important the moment was for the sport.
"I thought it was just great for bowling," he said. "If anybody doesn't think any of a handful of women have every reason to think they can compete here, they're wrong.
"When our match was over, I asked the crowd to give Liz another round of applause. Before the match, when we were introduced, I gave her a little kiss. That's the first time I've ever kissed one of my opponents before a match."
Johns leads All-Stars
Eric Johns of the Tonawanda Bowling Center team threatened the high series record in the BPA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All-Stars traveling league last week at TBC. Johns had games of 279 and 300 to start his series, but finished with an 844. That was 11 pins under the record of 855 held by Bill Truman of Transit Lanes.
Meanwhile, Orchard Park Lanes moved back into first place on the strength of its 25-8 win over Manor while Recckio's dropped into second with its 19-14 loss to South Transit.
Steve John Jr. was selected as the Al Appleford and Ebonite Bowler of the First Quarter. John won 19 of 27 match points and averaged 223.81 for Orchard Park.
All in the family
Within a period of five days late last month, three members of the Ciminelli family recorded 300 games -- at three different establishments.
On Oct. 27, Ron Ciminelli started it with a perfecto in a 730 series in the Dunlap Coed league at Manor. The next night, his son Mark bowled his in a 787 series in the Cambio's Doubles League at Leisureland. Ryan Ciminelli, Ron's nephew and Mark's cousin, bowled his in the Trick or Treat Shootout at Airport on Halloween.
Both Mark and Ryan Ciminelli will bowl for Erie Community College this season.
Regional pros in town
Three squads of qualifying at 8:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today kick off the Wild Turkey PBA Central Regional Recckio's Open at Recckio's, 2425 South Park Ave. Match play begins Sunday at 9:30 a.m. with the round of 16. The finals are expected to go off between 1 and 2:30 p.m.
Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, the Regional points leader, is defending champion. Jurek is scheduled to bowl in the first squad today. Riga Kalfas of Florence, Ky., who is second to Jurek in the Central Region points standings, is entered and scheduled to bowl in the B squad.
Dolores Thome won the Class A division of the Buffalo Women's Bowling Association Jo Tourjie Memorial Senior tournament at Airport. Thome bowled 512 with a 159 handicap for a 671 total. Mary Huber (556-114-670) and Leona Morris (551-105-656) finished second and third. Class B winner was Barbara Becker (516-132-648), followed by Fran Domagala (470-174-644) and Shirley Glodowski (476-168-644). Low total to cash was 604.
Paula Wasieczko won the Buffalo 600 Club's Member-Only Handicap singles at Recckio's with a 613 scratch (685 handicap). Janice Stephen (664-682), Elaine Koszuta (554-671), Sandy Snyder (599-668) and Chris Szydlowski (567-666) rounded out the top five.