By Aaron Smith and Brian Hirsch
USBC Communications

LAS VEGAS – Wilbert Bellamy of New Britain, Connecticut, and Dave Hauber of Dickeyville, Wisconsin, shared the spotlight Tuesday at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships as they became the latest members of the tournament’s 50-Year Club.

Both Bellamy and Hauber received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate the milestone at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

Bellamy completed the first game of his team event Tuesday before stepping aside for a substitute, who rolled the final two games. The 87-year-old right-hander was very humbled by the reaction he received from the other bowlers on his squad.

“This was fantastic, and I’ve never had a feeling like this before,” said Bellamy, who began his tournament career at the 1968 event in Cincinnati. “All of the people were cheering and clapping for me, and bowlers were coming over just to shake my hand. I felt like a celebrity. I was treated so well by everyone, and this has become my favorite memory out here.”

Bellamy’s lone game pushed his career pinfall total to 71,723, a lifetime average of 175.

HauberDave2017OCForWeb250x140Hauber was surrounded by friends and family as he celebrated his fifth decade on the championship lanes, and the entourage included his brother, John, who made his 45th USBC Open Championships appearance.

Hauber, a 70-year-old right-hander, made his tournament debut at the 1968 event in Cincinnati, and he got his start alongside Dick Rice of Platteville, Wisconsin, a member of the tournament’s 60-Year and 100,000 Pin-Clubs.

“What started out as friends getting into a car and driving to the national tournament each year has turned into a family affair,” Hauber said. “Dick is the one that got us started on this journey.”

Hauber has enjoyed the chance to travel while competing in the world’s largest participatory sporting event and seeing what each host city had to offer.

“It’s hard to pick a favorite because each one has things that are unique,” Hauber said. “Over the years, we have done everything from golf to baseball games to Churchill Downs.”

In his 50th appearance, Hauber rolled sets of 520 in singles, 465 in team and 397 in doubles for a 1,382 all-events total. He has knocked down 76,486 pins during his Open Championships career for a lifetime average of 174.6.

Bellamy and Hauber are two of 23 bowlers scheduled to celebrate five decades of participation this year in Las Vegas.

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