LAS VEGAS –The road to 50 years of participation at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships is a long one that can cover tens of thousands of miles, and Wayne Falcone of Norristown, Pennsylvania, was fortunate enough to have his brother as a travel companion for his entire journey into the tournament record book.
When Falcone, a 72-year-old right-hander, was told he could have anyone he wanted escort him to the lanes Tuesday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, it made sense for his older brother, Jules, to join him for his milestone march.
As they have for almost all of their tournament appearances, the two walked side by side to the lanes, becoming the first brothers in the tournament’s elite 50-Year Club.
Wayne was laneside last year in Reno, Nevada, as Jules was recognized for his five consecutive decades of dedication, and the roles were reversed Tuesday as Wayne received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate his 50th consecutive year on the championship lanes.
“I felt pretty good about it,” Wayne Falcone said. “It is a nice honor and a nice thing that USBC does to recognize the bowlers. This is very special.”
Wayne’s USBC Open Championships career began at the 1968 event in Cincinnati at the urging of his brother, who had a memorable time during his own debut a year earlier and wanted to share the experience.
The duo’s consecutive streaks nearly ended early on, when the expensive 2,700-mile trip from Pennsylvania to Long Beach, California, in 1972 seemed impossible. Wayne found a way to make it happen, and more than 40 years later, they’re glad they went.
“Early on, we were just doing this because we’re bowlers, and that’s what we do,” said Wayne, who bowls regularly at Wynnewood Lanes in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. “We wanted to travel and see different parts of the country, and we’ve gotten to do that for the most part.”
The 2016 Open Championships was memorable due to Jules’ entry into the 50-Year Club, but it also marked the first time Wayne did not bowl all nine games.
A hamstring injury during the team event forced Wayne to use a one-step approach for the remaining game and a half. He finished with a 425 series and sat out doubles and singles the following day.
In 2017, Wayne rolled sets of 524 in team, 473 in singles and 470 in doubles for a 1,467 all-events total. In 50 years on the tournament lanes, he has knocked down 81,507 pins for a career average of 183.6.
This year, Jules had sets of 472 in singles, 461 in team and 421 in doubles for a 1,354 total.
The 50-Year Club at the Open Championships also includes three sets of fathers and sons – Frank Carr (62) and Thomas Carr (57), Earl Ebers Sr. (50) and Earl Ebers Jr. (58) and Joseph Pursel Sr. (55) and Joseph Pursel Jr. (58).
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