John Gyalog has been bowling for 60 years and he's never bowled more than he does now.
Gyalog is in three leagues and practices on a fourth day. "You can do that when you're retired," said the 75-year-old from the Riverside area who rolled his first 300 game Tuesday at Manor Lanes in the Vince's Auto Wrecking League. He took an early retirement from Western Electric when the plant closed in 1977.
The perfect game brought Gyalog's average in the Tuesday league to 193 and he's averaging 185 in the Monday afternoon seniors league at Manor and also 185 in the Wednesday Three-Man Seniors at Kenmore. Thursday is his practice day.
At 75, he's certainly among the oldest area bowlers to record a 300, perhaps the oldest. It's an elusive category in most association record books. The ABC record was established in 1999 by 87-year-old Joe Dean in Columbus, Ohio.
Gyalog's previous high game was a 279. He's had several games in the low 270s and a career high series of 727 about five years ago at Mil-Sher.
The numbers this season are impressive in view of the way his season began.
"I started the season with a new (reactive resin Brunswick) Zone and couldn't master it," Gyalog said. "I hit the pocket and ended up with splits. I went back to a Columbia resin ball. It's the oldest of the three I have. I've had it about six years. I'll try (the Zone) again this summer."
Nine frames were no problem for Gyalog in his perfect game but "the first ball in the 10th was kind of heavy," he said. "A pin came off the side board and took out the 4-7 pretty quick. I don't remember much else. They told me the last two were right in the pocket.
"On the 12th shot I had to remind myself to get the ball on the spot and go through it. I have to concentrate and not throw my arm out to the right."
Gyalog said Helen Greene and Art Funk are the bowlers most responsible for him doing the right thing on his last shot.
Greene, a Buffalo Women's Bowling Association Hall of Famer, bowls in a mixed league at Kenmore on Thursdays and sometimes stops at the lanes when he is bowling on Fridays. "She kept harping to keep the ball up," Gyalog said. Funk, his teammate on Tuesdays at Manor, reminds him to "stay under the ball and get it out (on the lanes)."
Gyalog started bowling around 1939 when he was 15 and a pin-sticker at Rung's on Ontario Street. For those with long memories, other contemporary alleys in Gyalog's neighborhood were Manley's on Tonawanda Street and Klaiber's at Niagara and Forest. He recalled Rung's had 12 lanes on the second floor and Klaiber's had four upstairs and four down.
Piesczynski to turn pro
Janette Piesczynski's third term with Team USA will be her last.
"I'm ready to go out on (the pro) tour," said Piesczynski, who finished third in the USA Bowling National Championships in Reno, Nev., Dec. 15-17. "I've bowled in most of the big amateur tournaments, the World Cup, the Pan Am Games." She expects to join the Women's Professional Bowling Association for the 2001 season.
At the National Championships, Piesczynski was fourth after the first eight-game block and third after each of the next five eight-game sessions. "Being third most of the time was comfortable for me," the 22-year-old from Cheektowaga said. "I love match play (the first three rounds were for qualifying, the last three rounds were match play to determine the final three for the championship rolloffs) and I knew my scores would pick up.
"My last two blocks were the best with two 269 games and two in the 240s. The big games helped me and I didn't have to press."
Piesczynski lost in the rolloffs to Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., 257-204. "I didn't throw a bad shot until the ninth frame when I left a Greek Church (a 4-6-7-9-10 split)," Piesczynski said. "I threw it bad. I knew I couldn't do that and I paid for it."
Kulick opened with four strikes, then spare, strike, spare before going off the sheet with a five-bagger. Piesczynski countered with three doubles through eight frames before the disastrous ninth.
Piesczynski's rooting section included her mother, Nancy, and her grandmother, Florence Penkalski. "It was my first time at the finals. It was fun and nice for us to be together," Nancy Piesczynski said.
Janette Piesczynski said her grandmother is not a bowling person, "but she knows how much this means to me. I think she was surprised to find out how much we bowled. Sixteen games a day is a lot."
Piesczynski joins a strong Team USA with the top five women from the National Championships and top four men returning to the national team. All of the women are in their 20s or younger including Missy Bellinder, who is still in high school in Fullerton, Calif.
Around the lanes
The times listed last week for today's Hangover Open at Broadway Sports Center were incorrect. Squads run from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Entry is $30 for the three-game handicap tournament to benefit the Cheektowaga Lions Blind and Charity Fund. . . . John Scholl Jr. of Buffalo qualified second and finished second in the YBT's Dec. 19 stop at Clover Lanes in Rochester. . . . A new Ciprich Senior Classic Singles League begins at Transit at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. For details call Dick Ciprich at 689-5711.