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 only one other person has accomplished in the entire history of Erie’s most prestigious bowling tournament.
Prior to Saturday’s second shift, which begins at 1 p.m., tournament director Dave Hewett Montgomery, 69, will present the Buddy Malone Competitive Spirit Award, a new award that honors bowlers who have participated in 50 Times-News Opens.
This year will be Montgomery’s 51st TN-Open, which equals Malone’s score of 51. However, Malone’s were consecutive, while Montgomery missed one tournament during his years, in 1989.
Malone, 94, is expected to attend to present the award to Montgomery with Hewett.
“I love bowling” was the main reason Montgomery gave for his longevity. “I really liked it. I hope to make another 50 tournaments,” he said with a laugh.
What he likes most about the tournament is “just meeting all my friends I’ve always bowled with,” he said. “The camaraderie, the stories that fly, just joining in, is amazing.”
Another milestone:Erie bowler Robert Montgomery Jr. reaches milestone USBC Open
Montgomery first bowled in the TN Open in 1971, at the age of 17. “I was a decent bowler, but I soon found out that bowling against all the great players was a different story,” he said with a smile.
It wasn’t long before he made his mark though, reaching the finals in his sophomore year, finishing 12th. “Me and my good friends Timmy Nick and Rick Heaverly made it to the final in ’72, and I remember the headlines in the Times, it said ‘The Teenagers Invade the Times-News Tournament’.”
Along with Heaverly, Montgomery, then 19, reached the final again in 1973, finishing 11th. With two finals to his name in three years and still a teenager, Montgomery became a big-shot himself.
Then, in 1980, he met his mate 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,” said Montgomery. “I tried my best, but lost the bonus points. Those were the good old days,” he says.
Times-News Open:Check out the TN Open website
In his 50 tournaments, Montgomery has bowled a total of 628 games, with a total of 120,035 pins and an overall average of 191.14. He said he is honored to receive an award named after Buddy Malone, a 1989 inductee into the Pennsylvania USBC Hall of Fame.
“I’ve known Buddy for 55 years now. He was a great bowler and he was like a different father to me,” Montgomery said. “Me and Timmy Nick and Rick Heaverly bowled in the junior league with Buddy in Eastland Bowl when he and his son Pat Malone owned the alley.”
Along with Buddy Malone (1975), Montgomery is an inductee into the Northwestern Pennsylvania Bowling Hall of Fame (1993). In addition to bowling locally, he bowls regularly 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 in Lakewood Lanes when we were kids,” said Nick, 69. “I’d call him the ‘George Carlin of bowling.’ He is quick to understand and he has the best sense of humor you can imagine. When you bowl with him, you smile.”
Another new award will be presented by Hewett on Saturday, the “Pat Malone Competitive Spirit Award,” named in honor of the late Pat Malone, to bowlers who have competed in the Times-News Open for 40 years or more.
The winners of the Pat Malone Prize are Vinny Orlando (age 42), Tom Hickey (age 40), Bryan Tuten (age 40) and Bob Kane Jr. (40 years).
Pat Malone, the five-time Times-News Open champion who has won in five consecutive decades, died on September 27 at age 68.
“That was a terrible shame on Pat,” Montgomery said. “It was so sad and a great loss to the bowling community.”
Pat Malone’s wife, Andrea Malone, will present the Pat Malone awards along with Hewett on Saturday.
This year’s tournament will feature 168 bowlers, including six former champions, and Charlie Tuzynski Jr. and TJ Mitchell, winners of the 2021 Times-News Open Doubles Tournament on December 5.
Following this weekend’s 10-game opening round, the 32-bowler, 6-game semifinals will be held at Westway Lanes on Jan. 23 at 1:00 PM, while the 16-bowler, 16-game match play final will be held on Jan. 29 at Rolling Meadow Lanes and January 30 at Eastway Lanes, at noon both days.
Defending champion Mike Machuga is looking for a record four consecutive championships.
TIMES NEWS OPEN AWARDS
Competitive Spirit Awards (presented on Saturdays at 1pm in Greengarden Lanes)
Buddy Malone Award (50 or more Times-News opens):
Bob Montgomery, 69: 50 TNOs, 1971-present; 3 finals 1980 runner-up; 628 games in total, 120,035 pins in total, 191.14 average; 1993 Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame inductee.
Pat Malone Award (40 or more Times-News opens):
Ninny Orlando, 77: 42 TNOs, 1965-2013; 10 finals, 1982, 1992 champion, 7 times top 5; 699 games, 139,896 total pins, 200.14 overall average; 1987 Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame inductee.
Tom Hickey, 78: 40 TNOs, 1964-2006; 12 finals, 1964, 1968, 1984 champion, 1986 runner-up, 10 times top 5; 795 games, 160,193 pins total, 201.50 overall average; 1987 Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame inductee.
Bryan Tuten, 81: 40 TNOs, 1969-2018; 6 finals, runner-up 1994, qualifying champion 1973, 1994; 579 games, 114,314 total pins, 197.43 overall average; 1995 Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame inductee.
Bob Kane Jr., 58: 40 TNOs, 1983-present; 10 finals, runner-up 1987, qualifier 1989, 2014; 563 games, 116,318 total pins, 206.60 overall average; 2009 Northwestern PA Bowling Hall of Fame inductee.
59th ANNUAL TIMES NEWS OPEN
Qualifying: Saturday and Sunday, Greengarden Lanes, every day from 9am to 1pm. (Saturday: Squad A at 9am, Squad B at 1pm; Sunday: Squad B at 9am, Squad A at 1pm)
Semi-finals: January 23, Westway Lanes, 1:00 PM
Final: January 29, Rolling Meadow Lanes, noon; January 30, Eastway Lanes, noon.
Attendees: 168 maximum (12 pairs with 7 in a pair, 24 lanes).
Format: qualifying round: 10 matches (5 Saturday, 5 Sunday), top 32 through to semi-finals; semifinal round: 6 games, top 16 advance to final; Final: 16 matches in total, consisting of 8 head-to-head matches on January 29 and 7 head-to-head matches plus one positional round on January 30. A total of 32 matches.
Price: $1,500 first place, based on a minimum of 160 entrants; all bowlers who reach the semi-finals will cash out, with different special prizes according to positioning; price ratio about 1 to 5.
Former champions entered: Lee Eighty 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).
champion 2021: Mike Machuga (4.303).
2021 qualifying champion: Mike Machuga (3,816).
Tournament staff: director, Dave Hewett (age 40); assistant director, Tim Nick; treasurer, Dale Uplinger; computer operations, Brett Rerick; commission, Elaine Hewett, Matt Hinterberger, Bob Montgomery, Ray Sheridan, Mike Duke, Keith Reed.
Online: www.tnopen.org, or on Facebook under “Times-News Open”