When veteran bowler Bob Montgomery Jr. throws his first ball in the opening round of the 59th Times-News Open at Greengarden Lanes on Saturday, he will have accomplished something that only one other person has accomplished in the entire history of Erie’s most prestigious bowling tournament.
Prior to Saturday’s second shift, which starts at 1 p.m., tournament director Dave Hewett will be presenting Montgomery, 69, with the Buddy Malone Competitive Spirit Award, a new award that honors bowlers who have participated in 50 Times-News Opens.
This year will mark Montgomery’s 51st TN-Open, which equals Malone’s mark of 51. Malone’s, however, were consecutive, while Montgomery missed one tournament during his years, in 1989.
Malone, 94, is expected to be on hand to join Hewett in presenting the award to Montgomery.
“I enjoy bowling,” was the main reason Montgomery gave for his longevity mark. “It’s been very good to me. I’m hoping to make another 50 tournaments,” he said, laughing.
The thing he likes the most about the tournament is “just meeting all my friends that I’ve bowled with forever,” he said. “The camaraderie, the stories that fly, just getting to participate, is wonderful.”
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Montgomery first bowled in the TN-Open in 1971, at age 17. “I was a decent bowler, but I quickly found out that bowling against all the big-shots was a different story,” he said with a smile.
It didn’t take him long to make his mark though, reaching the finals in his second year, and finishing 12th. “Me and my good buddies Timmy Nick and Rick Heaverly made the finals in ’72, and I still remember the headlines in the Times, it said, ‘The Teenagers Invade the Times-News Tournament.'”
Along with Heaverly, Montgomery, then 19, reached the finals again in 1973, and finished 11th. With two finals under his belt in three years and still a teenager, Montgomery himself was becoming a “big-shot.”
Then, in 1980 he met up with his buddy Heaverly for the championship, but lost to him by 171 pins, 5,623 to 5,452, to finish second.
“That 1980 tournament was my most memorable Times-News Open,” Montgomery said. “I did the best I could but lost out on the bonus points. Those were the good old days,” he said.
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In his 50 tournaments, Montgomery has bowled 628 total games, with 120,035 total pins and an overall average of 191.14. He said that he feels honored to receive an award named after Buddy Malone, a 1989 inductee in the Pennsylvania USBC Hall of Fame.
“I’ve known Buddy for 55 years now. He was a great bowler, and he was like another dad to me,” Montgomery said. “Me and Timmy Nick and Rick Heaverly bowled in the junior league with Buddy at Eastland Bowl when he and his son Pat Malone owned the alley.”
Along with Buddy Malone (1975), Montgomery is an inductee in the Northwestern Pennsylvania Bowling Hall of Fame (1993). In addition to bowling locally, he regularly bowls in national tournaments, including 50 consecutive appearances in the annual American Bowling Congress/USBC Tournament.
“Monty and I go way back to our days as pin-setters at Lakewood Lanes when we were kids,” Nick, 69. said. “I would call him the ‘George Carlin of bowling.’ He’s quick-witted, and he’s got the best sense of humor you can imagine. When you bowl with him, you laugh.”
Another new award will be presented by Hewett on Saturday, the “Pat Malone Competitive Spirit Award,” named in honor of the late Pat Malone, for bowlers who have participated in the Times-News Open for 40 or more years.
Receiving the Pat Malone award will be Vinny Orlando (42 years), Tom Hickey (40 years), Bryan Tuten (40 years) and Bob Kane Jr. (40th year).
Pat Malone, the five-time Times-News Open champion who won in five consecutive decades, died on Sept. 27 at age 68.
“That was a terrible shame about Pat,” Montgomery said. “It was so sad, and a big loss to the bowling community.”
Pat Malone’s wife, Andrea Malone, will join Hewett in presenting the Pat Malone awards on Saturday.
This year’s tournament will consist of 168 bowlers, including six former champions, and Charlie Tuzynski Jr. and T.J. Mitchell, winners of the 2021 Times-News Open Doubles Tournament on Dec. 5.
After this weekend’s opening round of 10 games, the 32-bowler, 6-game semifinals will be held on Jan. 23 at Westway Lanes at 1 p.m., while the 16-bowler, 16-game match-play finals will take place on Jan. 29 at Rolling Meadow Lanes and Jan. 30 at Eastway Lanes, both days at noon.
Defending champion Mike Machuga will be looking for a record four consecutive championships.
TIMES-NEWS OPEN AWARDS
Competitive Spirit Awards (To be presented Saturday at Greengarden Lanes at 1 p.m.)
Buddy Malone Award (50 or more Times-News Opens):
Bob Montgomery, 69: 50 TNO’s, 1971-present; 3 finals, 1980 runner-up; 628 total games, 120,035 total pins, 191.14 overall average; 1993 inductee Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame.
Pat Malone Award (40 or more Times-News Opens):
Vinny Orlando, 77: 42 TNO’s, 1965-2013; 10 finals, 1982, 1992 champion, 7 times top 5; 699 games, 139,896 total pins, 200.14 overall average; 1987 inductee Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame.
Tom Hickey, 78: 40 TNO's, 1964-2006; 12 finals, 1964, 1968, 1984 champion, 1986 runner-up, 10 times top 5; 795 games, 160,193 total pins, 201.50 overall average; 1987 inductee Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame.
Bryan Tuten, 81: 40 TNOs, 1969-2018; 6 finals, 1994 runner-up, qualifying champ 1973, 1994; 579 games, 114,314 total pins, 197.43 overall average; 1995 inductee Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame.
Bob Kane Jr., 58: 40 TNO's, 1983-present; 10 finals, 1987 runner-up, qualifying champ 1989, 2014; 563 games, 116,318 total pins, 206.60 overall average; 2009 inductee Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame.
59th ANNUAL TIMES-NEWS OPEN
Qualifying: Saturday and Sunday, Greengarden Lanes, 9 a.m., 1 p.m. each day. (Saturday: Squad A at 9 a.m., Squad B at 1 p.m.; Sunday: Squad B at 9 a.m., Squad A at 1 p.m.)
Semifinals: Jan. 23, Westway Lanes, 1 p.m.
Finals: Jan. 29, Rolling Meadow Lanes, noon; Jan. 30, Eastway Lanes, noon.
Entrants: 168 maximum (12 pair with 7 in a pair, 24 lanes).
Format: qualifying round: 10 games (5 Saturday, 5 Sunday), top 32 advance to semifinals; semifinal round: 6 games, top 16 advance to finals; finals: 16 games total, consisting of 8 head-to-head matches on Jan. 29 and 7 head-to-head matches plus one positional round on Jan. 30. Total of 32 games.
Prize: $1,500 first place, based on minimum of 160 entrants; all bowlers reaching semifinal round will cash, with various special prizes according to positioning; prize ratio approximately 1 in 5.
Former champions entered: Lee Eighmy Jr. (1998, 2000, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017); Mike Shady (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2013, 2014); Mike Machuga (1997, 2019, 2020, 2021); Ross Caruana Jr. (1985); Ken Berlin Jr. (1987); T.J. Mitchell (2018).
2021 champion: Mike Machuga (4,303).
2021 qualifying champion: Mike Machuga (3,816).
Tournament staff: director, Dave Hewett (40th year); assistant director, Tim Nick; treasurer, Dale Uplinger; computer operations, Brett Rearick; committee, Elaine Hewett, Matt Hinterberger, Bob Montgomery, Ray Sheridan, Mike Duke, Keith Reed.
Online: www.tnopen.org, or on Facebook under “Times-News Open”
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Bowlers to receive Malone Awards at Times-News Open