It began in 1982 as the BPA (Bowling Proprietors Association) Black Velvet All-Stars. As the BPA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All-Stars, the traveling league presents some of the most competitive team bowling in Western New York.
Teams representing 12 area bowling centers compete each Saturday at a different establishment. Five bowlers have been there from the beginning, including league publicist Dave Miller. The other enduring veterans are Jim Wolf, Don Johns Jr., Kelly Utnik and Bill Truman.
It's not unusual for the entire league to average in the 220s. Honor scores are not uncommon. Last week, Andy Ochal bowled his third career 300.
Teams play for a 33-point formation -- nine points for each game (five individual points and four for total pinfall), three points for overall total pinfall and three points for the winner of the Baker game bowled as the fourth game.
The format produces some wild swings in the standings. Last Saturday was a good example. Alden Lanes ran into a red-hot Kenmore Lanes squad and absorbed a 28 1/2 -to-4 1/2 loss that dropped the Aldenites from third to sixth place. Ironically, Alden was the host for last week's matches. Led by Ochal's 300 game, Kenmore jumped up four spots to second place with 213 1/2 points, only 13 1/2 points behind first-place Orchard Park Lanes.
OP has owned the league lead most of the season. Captain Mike Mucciaccio's team includes Dave Guindon, Steve John Jr., 2004 Obenauer Masters champion Pat Brick, Ron Chader and Gene Rutkowski.
Each team is allowed to freeze four bowlers from its roster for the next season. Each then fills out its roster by drafting two of the available bowlers.
Numerous tournaments have siphoned off some of the talent that once was available on a regular basis. But All-Star rosters still boast many of the best in Western New York -- male and female. The lack of a women's tour allows pro star Liz Johnson to bowl regularly in the league. Johnson is one of several women stars who compete ably with the men.
And it's not unusual to see PBA Tour bowlers subbing. Jack Jurek, the point-leader in the Wild Turkey PBA Central Region Tour, is a league regular. PBA Tour regulars Tom Baker, Brad Angelo and Joe Ciccone have subbed in the league. Subs are allowed one appearance per team in each half of the league schedule. After last week's wild turn of events, the All-Stars head for Transit Lanes at 2 p.m. today.
South Transit Lanes yielded an unusual record last week. The Mullen's Construction quintet of Ted Tenniston Jr., Tim Kirsch, Joe Jack, Butch Grage and Dave Poole turned in a 3,669 team series in the Friday Five-Man League. The team series was the highest ever bowled by an all left-handed team, according to Bowling Headquarters.
Denniston led the way with 290-774, Poole had 268-720, Grage had 289-762, Kirsch had a 259-689 and Jack bowled 248-724. The team had games of 1,304, 1,237 and 1,128. The southpaws actually bowled their record Tuesday night, bowling three nights in advance so the team members could attend the Lockport Bowling Association Hall of Fame Induction Dinner last Friday night at Jimmy B's. Brad Angelo and Jim White were the inductees.
Angelo was surprised and touched when he was escorted for enshrinement by his father, Nin Angelo. Angelo had been told that his old doubles partner in the LBA Tournament would do the honors.
Tom Baker won the Wild Turkey PBA Central Region Wayne Bank Open at Do-Ri-Me Lanes in Richmond, Ind. last weekend, defeating Steve Harman of Camby, Ind., 186-177, in the title match. Baker, the PBA World Champion, picked up $2,500 for his victory.
Central Region points leader Jack Jurek did not qualify for match play, finishing 37th. He lost a little bit of his lead over Riga Kalfas of Florence, Ky. for the Central points lead. Kalfas, who finished 12th, picked up 8,863 points to Jurek's 3,357. Jurek was leading by more than 24,000 points going into the Indiana tournament.
The PBA Central tour visits Recckio's Lanes, 2426 South Park Ave., on Nov. 12. Jurek is the defending champion.