Known for his competitiveness on the lanes, kindness off.
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
One of Lockport’s most famous bowlers in history, a southpaw giant respected throughout the country and one of local television’s first bowling stars is dead.
Anthony “Nin” Angelo, the serious competitor who followed the game he loved right up until the end, died on Thursday. Funeral information has yet to be released.
“The guys I grew up bowling with like Butch Grage and Dave Poole, we idolized Nin,” said Lockport Bowling Association Executive Director Tim Kirsch.
“Nin was pretty famous in his day as being the sport’s first great left handers. Going back in bowling history — the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s — there were no left handers who made a real big splash. Earl Anthony eventually did in the early 1970s and he’s probably the left hander most people think of most, but Nin was the first great and he was very well known and respected throughout the state and within his sport.”
A past City Tournament champion and billed every where as “The Little Lefty from Lockport,” Angelo became a household name throughout Western New York in the early 1960s when he appeared on local television’s “Beat the Champ” program for 19 consecutive weeks, a record at that time. That incredible streak included a 299 single game and 760 series. Among the local greats Nin beat during that streak were American Bowling Congress Hall of Famers Ed Lubanski, Bill Bunetta, Billy Golembiewski and Carmen Salvino.
Kirsch said what a lot of people don’t know is around the same time, Nin was also smashing records at a Utica television station, appearing on that local Beat the Champ-type format program for about 20 consecutive weeks.
“Bowling was what Nin loved to do and was very good at it and he was very competitive,” Kirsch said. “He was also a big star in the team era of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Nin bowled on one of these big teams out of Buffalo. They’d go to state bowling association tournaments and other tournaments and win all the time.”
A construction accident forced Nin out of competitive bowling, including a brief pro career, but he was a lane junkie and could always be found at local houses. The father of pro bowler Brad Angelo, Nin was also instrumental in Brad’s development and successful pro career to date and was present when Brad’s dream of opening his own bowling alley in Lockport became a reality last year.
“On the lanes, Nin was always very competitive and very serious,” Kirsch said.
“After a while, Beat the Champ went from a live show to taped delay and they held these qualifiers at all the local alleys. You’d pay a few bucks and bowl and if you were in the top one or two, they’d schedule you to be on the show.
“Nin was trying to qualify this one time and was bowing next to Mike Fiedler at Allie Brandt’s. Nin, a left hander, was on 13-14, and Fiedler, a right-hander, was on 15-16. Nin gets up on 14 and leaves the seven pin. Fiedler leaves the 10 pin right next to him. Well Fiedler gets up first and hits the 10 pin so hard, it comes bouncing out, bounces over to 14 and knocks Nin’s seven pin down. Nin got mad and said, ‘Now what you’d go and do that for?’” Kirsch said.
“Poor Mike, he just threw the ball. But that’s how competitive Nin was.”
Nin Angelo is a member of the LBA Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Bowling Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the New York State Bowling Hall of Fame.
“We looked up to Nin and Allie Brandt and Tony Parete — that era of great bowlers,” Kirsch said.
“When you got the opportunity to bowl with them, you were in seventh heaven. Nin was a great guy, a great competitor and a very nice fellow. My condolences to his family.”