Connecticut bowler first to join 50-Year Club at 2016 USBC Open

USBC Communications
Published: March 13, 2016 |
By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. – John Kamenitsky of Stratford, Connecticut, still has a hard time believing he’s made the trip to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships 49 times prior to this year’s visit to the National Bowling Stadium.

With his march down Center Aisle this week, Kamenitsky became the first bowler to reach the milestone in 2016, and he’s looking forward to many more appearances on the tournament lanes.

The 84-year-old right-hander is one of 20 bowlers scheduled to celebrate 50 years of participation this year, and he received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate his entrance into the event’s 50-Year Club.

Kamenitsky made his USBC Open Championships debut at the 1966 edition in Rochester, New York, which was held at what was then the Rochester Community War Memorial, the home of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

“It was so impressive, and I had never seen anything like it before,” Kamenitsky said. “They had a professional sports team that had to change its schedule just to accommodate the tournament.”

In order to make room for the Open Championships, the Americans played their last 10 home games, and all but one playoff game of the 1966 season, in Toronto.

Kamenitsky would have celebrated his 50th appearance at the 2015 Open Championships in El Paso, Texas, but he was delayed one year and denied a consecutive passage into the club after missing the 1982 tournament in Baltimore, which still hits sour.

“I had just changed jobs and couldn’t arrange to take the time off,” said Kamenitsky, who bowls at Nutmeg Bowl in Fairfield, Connecticut. “It really hurt then.”

However, Kamenitsky credits his time working with his local USBC association in helping his longevity at the Open Championships.

“When I reached my 25th year, I was on the association board, and I would plan my time at the tournament around the convention,” said Kamenitsky, an association director with the Fairfield County (Conn.) USBC. “Now, I come with my friends to just have a great time.”

With his 2016 Open Championships in the books, Kamenitsky owns a career pinfall of 76,773, a 171 average.

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