By BOB WEINER
For Rich Ralbovsky, mixing an old-school release with some modern equipment is an excellent recipe for success.
The 45-year-old Niskayuna native is having one of the best seasons of his career on the lanes. Known for his full-roller release — quite unorthodox in the modern era — Ralbovsky is averaging between 229 and 235 in his three leagues — the Sportsman’s Majors on Monday nights, the Capital District All Star league on Thursday nights and the Vitalo Classic on Saturday nights. All three are at Sportsman’s Bowl in Schenectady.
“This year, I’ve been lucky,” said Ralbovsky. “Since I went to all Radical equipment, I’ve been bowling great. This is the most controllable ball I’ve ever had, and I’ll continue to buy the stuff. I’ve also been working hard on my game, as far as my timing and my footwork. As long as I keep repeating shots, I’ll do OK. I think I’ve come a long way in the game.”
Ralbovsky was a longtime regular at Rolling Greens Lanes in Scotia, and although scores are not generally high there over the years, accurate bowlers, like Ralbovsky, Cliff Ruth and the late Dick Peckham, were able to get their fair share of good scores.
“Back in the day, I was always an RG guy,” Ralbovsky said. “For many years, I didn’t want to leave that place. I loved that place. I always said, ‘If you can bowl at RG, you can bowl anywhere.’ I guess it’s about the only place that still has wood lanes.”
The Scotia-Glenville High School graduate learned the game from his father, and despite some slight changes here and there, he’s stayed with the full-roller release, known for its steady tracking, especially from an outside line.
“My dad never shot a 300 game or an 800 triple, so for me to have 12 300s and two 800s, I feel pretty blessed,” Ralbovsky said. “My previous best average was between 222 and 225, but now, looking at the score sheets in all of my leagues, I’m in the 230 range or better in all of them. I was filling in at Boulevard Bowl for a while, and now I can’t fill in anymore, because one of my averages was close to 240.
“It’s weird to look back at my game. Ever since Sportsman’s went to a synthetic surface, I haven’t had to change my game that much. I try to stay around the 10th board. Maybe eight or nine. As long as my footwork is slow and everything is in check, I can repeat my shots, and that’s what works for me.”
Ralbovsky, who bowls year-round to keep sharp, knows he is one of the few high-average scratch bowlers who still use the full-roller release, but he doesn’t mind. Almost every scratch bowler uses a semi-roller that produces a much greater hook, especially with today’s modern equipment.
“I kind of like to go outside the box,” he said. “I saw a friend of mine using Radical equipment one day, and I tried it. It’s been great for me, and I haven’t had to change my release. I like to be a little different. I attribute the success I’ve had with the full-roller on the fact that I keep working on my game, and I have also adapted my equipment.”
Often, bowlers who throw a full-roller are better when the lanes are a little drier, because they can keep the ball in the track area, but Ralbovsky said with his new equipment, he can also score well on fresh oil.
“I like it when it’s open on the back end, but when there is fresh oil, I just slow it down and let the ball do the work,” he said. “The only problem comes when I get a little too fast on the fresh oil. I just have to remind myself to stay slow with my feet.”