It's not unusual for a bowling league to be 30 years old. But in the case of the Bowling Proprietors Association of Western New York, 30 years is a milestone for its Traveling A League.
Secretary-treasurer Roy Redlein is the only player to bowl in the league all 30 years.
"I never thought I'd be doing it this long," said Redlein, who is 52. "It started on a whim when it was put together back in 1972."
Art Mallwitz and Jim Caramazza were instrumental in setting up the league. Mallwitz was proprietor of Schiller Park Lanes at the time and Caramazza was the manager at Transit Lanes. Mallwitz now owns Island Lanes on Grand Island and still sponsors a team in the league.
"It started as a (high average) handicap league," Mallwitz said. "It was meant to get the proprietors and workers out together. Just about everybody had a connection with the house they worked at."
Redlein didn't have a working connection with Schiller Park, but he had a connection with Mallwitz, who is his cousin.
"He said he was putting this team together and I was on it," recalled Redlein, who bowls in Friday and Sunday leagues at Island in addition to the Traveling League.
The popularity of the league helped it evolve from a handicap league to a scratch league in five or six years and to a dozen teams, then 16 and finally in the early '80s to split into two 12-team leagues -- A and B.
There's no big difference in the talent level of the two leagues, separated mainly by the years of their founding. Try-It sponsors both leagues, the Michelob Ultra A League and the Bacardi Silver B League.
Both leagues use a Pedersen scoring system with points awarded for each head-to-head game, team totals and total pins.
The original teams and some of the teams in the early transition of the league included Schiller Park, Transit, Roc-Mar, Broadway and Medina (both sponsored by Don Greiner), Suburban, Airport, Russell's, Recckio's, Thruway and Ideal.
"It was a bunch of guys on Saturdays who didn't have the time to bowl during the week," Redlein said. "It was basically a lot of young guys, 20-21-22. I think the Medina team was a little older. They were maybe 25."
Mallwitz said in the league's earlier years they would take a squad of at least half the bowlers to the Western & Central Tournament in Rochester.
"It was more of a reason just to be together," he said. "It was like an away league meet at the end of the season to be together one more time."
The PBA's East/Central Regions Tournament last weekend at Recckio's was a success on many levels, but spectator turnout was a disappointment, with no more than a dozen nonemployees watching Sunday's finals at any one time.
It's always tough to schedule an event against a Bills game -- home or away -- when there's television coverage. Bowling fans had the additional choice of watching Tom Baker's appearance in the televised finals of the national stop in Grand Rapids, Mich. Both were on the screens at the bowling center.
Proprietor Tammy Recckio was enthused about the interaction between the pros and the youth bowlers in Friday's Pro-Am. She has a contract to bring the tournament back for another try next year.
Also from the tournament:
Champion John Strasbaugh turns 50 in May and said he will start making some stops on the PBA Senior Tour. This was his first regional in two years due to weekend work at his recreation vehicle business near State College, Pa.
Brad Angelo of Lockport made an admirable qualifying attempt Saturday. He was up at 6 a.m. for a match against David Ozio in the PBA's Banquet Classic in Grand Rapids, but lost, 3-2. Then he drove 5 1/2 hours through patches of black ice in Canada to make the last squad here.
Angelo's scores were high enough to make the cut through four games but he ran out of gas in the last four games and failed to cash.
Steve Lenegan of West Seneca, bowling on the first squad, was on the verge of making the cash list, but was bumped after the third squad finished, six pins out of the money.
Lenegan said it was more nerve-wracking waiting to earn a $200 check in the regional than it was the previous Sunday when he won $3,000 with a 205-204 victory over Steve Bialuski of Rochester in the finals of the Fall Classic at Mancuso's in Batavia.
Rochester entrants swept the first two Buffalo Gold YABA Tournaments at Thruway. Mike Nassar averaged 217 for six games to win the October event. Eric Bucki of Derby was second, averaging 208.
Chris Bardol averaged 228 and won the November tournament. Brad Bixby of Fredonia was second, averaging 212.
The next tournament is Dec. 26, then Jan. 20 and Feb. 17. Winners received a paid entry valued at $125 to the national tournament.
The PWBA Shootout, won by Liz Johnson, was replaced on last Monday's ESPN2 schedule by college basketball and is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday. . . . The BPA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All Stars bowl at 2 p.m. today at Manor. . . . Bowl-O-Drome has a High Roller Win A Spot Sweeper at 9 tonight with a $39 entry. Kevin Smith and Brian Shaffer won the last two tournaments. First place is a Super Bowl High Roller Entry, a Mini Eliminator Entry and air fare from Buffalo to Las Vegas. . . . The Amateur Bowlers Association has a handicap tournament Sunday at Manor with the first squad at 9 a.m.
Norm Warner can be reached at 652-3505 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org