Fran Bax calls himself a cheerleader. But he was more than that with a 290 final game and a 766 series in leading the Mayor's Brother's Five to the men's team title in the Greater Buffalo Tournament at Kenmore Lanes.
The championship team included Rich Maloney, Mike Mucciaccio, Al Strianese Jr. and captain John Masiello, Mayor Masiello's brother.
Actually, the name of the team got a little messed up, John Masiello admitted. "It should have been the Mayor's Brother Plus Four," he said.
Bax recalled that his bowling ties with Masiello and Strianese go back to the 1970s when Roc-Mar was new and he bowled with Masiello on a 1988 team that finished second in the ABC Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.
"I really feel since 1983 I've been lucky enough to bowl on some great teams," Bax said. "I admit, I'm a cheerleader, but I try to be supportive and lift everybody up.
"When I was younger I was on teams where if you made bad shots you heard about it for months. I try to avoid being like that and I feel it's important.
"And chemistry is important. On the city, state and ABC teams I've been on that won, it's a common thread, the most significant thing."
Among his more than 40 individual, doubles, all events and team tournament titles are an ABC team championship in 1983, a Niagara Falls city team title in 1990, Buffalo city team crowns in 1991 and 1997, and a state team championship in 1996.
Masiello, who had a 300 game in the Greater Buffalo a couple of weeks earlier in doubles with Strianese, said he, Maloney and Bax had a good shot right from the beginning, playing more to the middle of the lanes.
"We had Al and Mike move in where we were," Masiello said. "I think we caught the lanes at a good time. I spend a lot of time at Kenmore and it seems like when more people were bowling the lanes held up better and there were a lot of people bowling that day."
The end result was that Maloney, a late sub who works in Kenmore's pro shop, had 248-728, Masiello bowled 238-709, Strianese rolled 246-676 and Mucciaccio added 236-652. The winning total, including Maloney's four pins per game handicap, was 3,543.
"Mike Mucciaccio threw the best ball of all of us but he could not buy a strike," Bax said. "He gave it his best effort and hung in there for 30 frames."
As a cheerleader, Bax wouldn't ask for anything more.
Going for a double
The combined women's/mixed team event nearly provided Bax with double championship honors. The Fabulous 4&1 that included Bax and his wife, Patty, Nancy Cole-Neiswonger, Christine Tromble and Mike Zarcone finished second to St. John's Ladies of Hamlin, N.Y. St. John's totaled 3,474 to the Fabulous 4&1's 3,369.
The individual scores for the runners-up, including handicap, were 720 for Tromble, 690 for Zarcone, 685 for Bax (bowling scratch), 664 for Cole-Neiswonger and 610 for Patty Bax.
"Because Fran and I have such a disparity in our averages ("She averages about a buck-40," her husband noted), they don't allow us to bowl together very often," Patty said. "It was nice to contribute."
Patty Bax and Cole-Neiswonger won last season's Tonawandas Twin Cities women's doubles title.
Other areas dominated
Rochester area and Canadian teams dominated most of the top three places in the Greater Buffalo divisions.
Other top three Buffalo area finishers: David Lucas and Jerry Hippert Sr. were second in men's doubles. Lucas was second and Masiello third in optional doubles singles, Larry Hayes was third in men's combine, Sam Bates third in optional team singles and The Baggers of Hamburg third in men's team.
Around the lanes
Greg Reger led Buffalo area finishers in the Wild Irish Rose Tournament at Roseland Bowl in Canandaigua. Reger, who had a 300 game, was second in men's singles with 780 to cash $1,000. Also: Marshall Lawrence tied for fourth and Dave Guindon was sixth in men's singles; Kelly Sturman was fourth in women's singles and tied for seventh in women's combine.. . . Brad Angelo, a member of Team USA in 1997 and 1998, lost to eventual champion Bill Hoffman of the current USA national team, 196-173, in the semifinals of Swedish Super Six Tour. ngelo finished fourth and earned $1,200. . . . Joe Ciccone was fourth in the Maple Bowl PBA Eastern Regional at Pennsauken, N.J. for $1,000. National touring pros Barker Bohon III and Tim Criss finished 1-2. . . . The BPA Certo All Stars roll at 3 p.m. today at Alden Bowling Center.