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Tom Banaszak was on a roll, then this happened

Tom Banaszak was more than two-thirds of the way toward a 900 series last month in the Bowlers Choice Pro Shop Thursday Night league at Transit Lanes.

Then, a 10-minute delay caused by a mechanical breakdown – a problem with the ball return on the adjoining pair of lanes – interrupted his run.

"I'm not using that as an excuse," Banaszak said, blaming his own error for ending his string of 24 strikes.

When bowling resumed, Banaszak left two wide-open splits before getting back on track. Then, he threw four more strikes before leaving the 10-pin on his final ball for a 228 game and an 828 series. That's 32 strikes on 35 balls.

"I was able to gather myself," after the delay, Banaszak said. "I didn't want to bowl 300-300-172."

He averaged a career-high 232 last year in the Thursday league at Transit. His two 300s last month were the seventh and eighth of his career, but his first in "a couple of years," he said.

Despite being a once-a-week bowler, Banaszak was able to develop consistency in his game even without a lot of practice. His 828 series culminated what has been a strong season from the start.

"This year, I hit a little bit of a crazy streak," said Banaszak, a district manager for 18 upstate stores in the Foot Locker chain. "I've been shooting all good scores. A couple of weeks ago I shot 837 (258-290-289)."

On the night of his 828, "Everything felt good," Banaszak said. "Good release, consistent and smooth and I got some breaks."

Banaszak was introduced to bowling by his father, Florian "Tudy" Banaszak, a league bowler and an occasional Classic leaguer in his day. A 1982 Maryvale graduate, Banaszak bowled in his early high schools years and at Canisius College. He said he's found the game gets easier the older he gets.

"When I was young I was trying too hard, you're getting down and too emotional," he said. "Now, it's a night out. I'm just having fun with my friends, just going out and trying to relax and throw good shots."

Perfect games have become so common, they don't create as much excitement in the house as they once did. In the middle of his strike string, Banaszak noticed he was not getting much attention at first.

"When somebody's throwing a 300 now, nobody even stops to look," he said. "On my first one, it was pretty calm. On the second, I noticed more people around. The house was pretty quiet. I thought, 'Oh My God, it's quite a crowd.'"

Banaszak, a right-hander, describes his bowling style as "tweener."

"It has a fair amount of turn and power to it," he said.

Lately, Banaszak said he's been dealing with a little bit of arthritis in his right hand. He credits veteran bowler Jeff Walsh with teaching thing him some little tricks to deal with the problem so that "the ball feels really good, and when it feels good that's half the battle."

Banaszak has bowled in some tournaments such as the Lilac City in Rochester, and the City Open on a limited basis. One reason is that come April he's ready to move on to other things.

"When the weather breaks I'm ready for golf," he said. "I have a regular Sunday tee time at Ivy Ridge. I love bowling once a week but when you get to April I'm ready to move on."

Jagodzinski keeps busy

Chuck Jagodzinski is one of the most active bowlers in the Buffalo area. According to the Greater Buffalo USBC Association average book, Jagodzinski bowled 356 league games in four leagues at four houses in 2018-19 with averages that ranged from 228 to 240.

Thursday night in the Alden Bank League at Alden Lanes, Jagodzinski shot the second-highest series in the history of the GBUSBCA with an 883 series. Jagodzinski had games of 286, 300 and 297. The series was second in Greater Buffalo history to the 888 by Bob Rudnick at Spare Time Lanes in 2006.

Coronavirus impact

Bowling, like most other sports, has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The Professional Bowlers Association Tour is limiting the spectators to tournaments, and the major college championships have been canceled, as have this weekend's scheduled New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys and girls championships in Syracuse.

The PBA Tour will hold its remaining events the Storm WSOB XI, but without spectators. Attendance will be limited to competitors, players' families and those in official capacity.

The United States Bowling Congress has postponed or suspended its nationally conducted events until May 1. This includes the Open Championships, Women’s Championships, convention, Masters and Senior Queens. Teams registered for Open and Women's championships between March 21 through April 30 will have the option to reschedule for added dates in the summer.

Local league bowling has been minimally affected to this point. Greater Buffalo USBC events are still on, including the 48th annual Stan Kowalski Senior Singles Championships at AMF Airport Lanes on April 18-19.

In fact, GBUSBC Manager Bill Palumbo reported Friday that the association has received 300 entries already and the first squad is sold out.

"That's high for this early," Palumbo said. The Kowalski drew 401 entrants last year.

The second annual Russell J. Salvatore Bowling Open has been rescheduled to June 13 and 14 after originally being set for April 4 and 5, organizers said Friday. The open features three events at the Tonawanda Bowling Center and benefits Team RPCS (Roswell Park Cessation Services) and the Ride for Roswell.

Registration and details are available on Facebook and at The inaugural event raised more than $4,000, which Salvatore matched. Anyone interested in volunteering or sponsoring should contact event organizer Patricia Bax at 716-284-6576 or

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