It was four weeks ago, but Lou Scapillato still is having trouble believing it happened.
A once-a-week league bowler, Scapillato bowled the third highest three-game series in Greater Buffalo USBC Association history, an 876 in the Memorial League at Wimbledon Lanes in West Seneca.
“I just carried everything. It was surreal. I still don’t believe it happened,” said Scapillato, 56, who works at Dunlop Tire.
“I can throw the ball in the pocket, but the odds of carrying 31 of 35 shots. I still don’t believe it happened. You just don’t carry that many times. Last night I shot 624. I thought I threw every ball in the pocket but I just couldn’t get any strikes.”
But on Dec. 19 at Wimbledon almost every pin fell.
“He’s been bowling once a week forever,” said Memorial league secretary Bob Lombard, a friendly rival. “He threw a smooth ball right over the second arrow and it carried every single shot, every ball. It was a wonderful thing to see.”
Scapillato started off with nine strikes in his first game, left a solid 10-pin, made the spare and left another 10-pin on the final ball. All this while collecting dues money from other bowlers between frames.
Then he really started concentrating. He threw 11 strikes before leaving a 4-pin on a soft hit. He threw another 299 in the third game, again leaving a 4-pin on what he thought was a better ball.
“At least you left room for improvement,” remarked the wife of one of Scapillato’s friends after the second 299.
It was the first 800 series of Scapillato’s career, his previous best being a 791 at Rose Bowl a decade ago. He does have three 300 games to his credit.
Scapillato (Louis C.) bowls on the same team with his son, Louis J., in the Memorial League, which has been around for years under various names.
“We used to name the league after long-time bowlers who had passed away,” said Lombard, the league secretary. “It started to get too complicated so we just called it the Memorial League.”
Scapillato’s team used to be called “Fourth and Goal.”
“We finished in fourth place so many times we changed our name to ‘4-4-4-4-4-4-4,’ like that lawyer’s phone number,” he said.
Scapillato’s big series came using a “second-hand” ball. Each September, he buys new bowling equipment for his son, Joe, who bowls at Depew High, and takes the old ball for himself.
He used the ball that was passed down to him and bowled his second career 300 game, and first since 1987, with it in November 2012.
Last season’s purchase, a Storm Reign Supreme, was damaged after only three games and put aside. Before this season, Lou had it resurfaced by Jim Reese at AMF Lancaster Lanes and began using it. He bowled another 300 in a 736 series last October, and it was the ball he used for his 876 series.
Scapillato says he’s been bowling since he was about 9 years old, but has never been coached or taken lessons.
“I just pay attention to all the coaches my kids have had,” he said. “I throw it too slow and too straight for today’s kids. When I started I learned to make spares. You used to be lucky to bowl 200, but now with this new equipment it’s a lot easier.”
Before getting married and starting a family, he used to bowl four or five times a week, but now it’s strictly one night, though he does bowl in a summer league with son Joe.
Last month, Scapillato’s once-a-week activity became a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
• Traci Spanitz of Rochester, Benny Appleby of Auburn and Margaret Lancaster of Marion are the 2014 inductees into the New York State USBC Hall of Fame.
Spanitz and Appleby will be enshrined for Superior Performance while Lancaster will go in the Meritorious Service category.
The New York State USBC Association also has selected Randy Hanks, owner of Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, to receive the Proprietor/Manager Recognition Award, and Lee Christopher of Groton (Ithaca USBC) to receive the Service to Youth Award.
All five will be honored at the New York State USBC Hall of Fame and Awards banquet at 7 p.m. May 31 at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Binghamton. Tickets are $35 per person, and can be purchased by contacting Mike Pettinella, NYS USBC association manager, at (585) 343-3736 or at bowlny300.
• The GBUSBC Association Youth Team Championship will be today and Sunday at AMF Airport Lanes. Competition is available in three divisions of scratch and handicap with four squad choices.
• The Greater Buffalo Association’s Me & Mine Handicap Tournament will be Feb. 8-9 and 15-16 at AMF Thruway Lanes with squads at 2 and 4 p.m on Saturdays and 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Sundays. Entry can be made online at gbusbc.com.