Last week, we put together our top ten greatest PBA bowlers of all-time. And we had a lot of awesome feedback, we appreciate it.
As a result of that piece, we decided we’d like to tackle a top ten amateurs of all-time list. However, after a lot of deliberation and discussion, we decided that would be impossible; there are just so many great amateurs from different eras that it would be impossible to compare and rank.
From there, we looked at our options, as I really wanted to do this piece. Thankfully for us, we just so happen to have one of, in my personal opinion, the best amateurs ever on our staff: Mr. John Gaines. I have put a little about John below.
He Has won four titles at the USBC Open Championships. He won Team All-Events titles in 1997 and 1998 and a Regular Singles crown in 1998. In 2013, he helped Lodge Lanes Too of Orlando to the highest team score in 110 years of Open Championships history (3,538) and the 2013 Regular Team title. He has 10 additional top-10 finishes at the Open Championships. Gaines won the 1997 USBC Team USA Trials and was a member of Team USA from 1998-2000. In 1999, he earned a team gold medal at the Pan American Games and a silver medal in the team event at the World Tenpin Bowling Association World Men’s Championships. He was named Amateur Bowler of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee in 1998.
So I got together with John on this list. But before we get started, we’d like to emphasize a few things. First of all, this is in no particular order; we aren’t ranking them from one-ten (in fact, we weren’t even able to narrow down the list to ten, as you’ll see), but, rather, just listing the bowlers. Also, these aren’t the best amateurs of all-time, though I’m certain you could make a strong argument for many of these bowlers to be on that list, as well. Instead, this list is on the twelve best amateur players that John, himself, competed against. Roughly between 1988-2000.
John told me this was very difficult for him to do, as there are many names he had to exclude from the list that he felt deserved a spot here. But, when you’re narrowing it down to ten players, there are always some great, great players that will be excluded.
We also would like to mention that some of these players did, in time, go on to compete at the professional level. However, at the time, they were amateurs, and their amateur careers speak for themselves.
Anyways, without further ado, let’s begin!
Today, we’ll be looking at six players, players that the casual fan may never have heard of, though, if you haven’t, I implore you to do some research, and tomorrow we’ll take a look at the remaining six bowlers, bowlers that include some pretty well-known names.
Joe Vito – Unless you’re from the I-35 corridor between Oklahoma and Texas, you’ve likely never heard of Joe Vito. However, John assures me that Vito was one of the very best action players of his generation; John, himself, watched him bowl for thousands of dollars in single matches. A pure shot maker and excellent spare shooter, Vito also won the Super Hoinke for $100,000.
Dave Guindon – Guindon, according to John, was always in contention. His biggest accolade would have to be between the International Eliminator, where he bowled 300 in the finals to win, which paid out $100,000 for the title and an additional $5,000 for the televised 300 game, or winning the 1999 World Team Challenge Grand Championships. In addition to these big titles, Guindon won countless numbers of big paying sweepers and other local/regional amateur events.
Bill Rowe – Seven-time member of the Canadian National team and five-time Canadian Male Bowler of the Year, Rowe won numerous international events and medals. One of the most successful international players of his era, Rowe was one of the greatest bowlers to ever come out of the Great White North.
Mike Lichstein – One of the most unorthodox and recognizable deliveries in the history of our sport (Youtube him, if you don’t believe me), Lichstein was one of, if not the, premier amateur left-handers of his era. His greatest amateur accomplishments include two, yes, two, High Roller titles, one of which paid a whopping $200,000! In addition to his two High Roller titles, Lichstein also made a PBA televised finals appearance with Patrick Allen at the 1992 Beaumont Doubles event. In his native North East, Lichstein is somewhat of a legend, having won more NEBA (New England Bowlers Association) titles (29) than anyone else in the history of the tournament.
Rudy “Revs” Kasimakis – According to John, you always knew when Rudy was in the building. Known for never backing down from a challenge, Rudy had one of the most intimidating demeanors and physical games of his time. One of, if not the, greatest action players in our sport’s history, Kasimakis would bowl anyone, for anything, anywhere, on anything. But he wasn’t just an action player. “Rudy Revs” had himself quite the amateur career, as well, winning two Megabuck titles, the 1988 New Jersey High Roller, and the 1992 Super Hoinke ($100,000 prize).
Bob Goike – USBC Hall of Famer and bowling legend. He is a former Team USA member, and multiple time Open Championship titlist. In 1984, Goike set the record for highest All-Events score in tournament history (2142), a record that would, of course, later be broken. But 2142 for nine games in 1984 was QUITE the feat. He still, however, holds one USBC Open Championship record: Most Consecutive 200 Games Bowled (27). Goike was as consistent as they came. In addition to his Open Championship resume, Goike also won numerous Team Challenge titles.