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Bowling: Just call Tom Byrdak, of Oak Forest, a superb sub

Tom Byrdak | Tony Baranek/Sun-Times Media

Tom Byrdak | Tony Baranek/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 26, 2013 6:22AM



Oak Forest native Tim Byrdak has found a good amount of success as a relief pitcher in his 12 seasons as a major league pitcher.

But he isn’t the only one in the family who can step in for the starter and get the job done.

His father, Tom Byrdak, is a supersub in his own right.

Byrdak bowls when someone else can’t make it in leagues on Sunday night at Palos Bowl and Friday night at Arena Lanes in Oak Lawn.

He doesn’t come in quietly.

In 2012-13, Byrdak carried a 215 average in the Sunday Night Villagers league at Palos Lanes. So far in 12 games this season he’s averaging 210, with a season-high game of 257.

At Arena, he competes in the Southwest Businessmen league, where on Nov. 15 he games of 237, 258 and 223 for a 718 series.

“There are a lot of 200 bowlers now,” Byrdak said. “The thing is, when I go in to bowl for one of these guys they don’t lose anything, team-wise. I can keep up with the rest of the other (bowlers) in the league.”

Byrdak’s most recent 300 occurred in a Monday night men’s league at Palos during the 2011-12 season. He finished with an 811 that night.

He’d be the anchor man on most teams, but hasn’t bowled full-time since 2007.

“I’m 68 years old and I don’t like to be committed to every week for eight months,” Byrdak said.

Byrdak is closing in on 60 years as an active bowler. He has 10 career 300 games, and four 800 games.

He was a national match game bowling champion in 1967 as a member of the bowling team at Illinois Teachers College South, now known as Chicago State.

A career highlight, Byrdak said, came in 1996, when he finished 64th out of 400 bowlers in the U.S. Senior Open.

“I just wanted to see if I could compete with those guys, and I could,” he said. “But it’s a job, really (to compete on the tour). You’ve got to really concentrate on your bowling.”

Byrdak retired in 2002 as a teacher at Curie High School. He coached Curie’s boys bowling team to city titles four times. He also was the varsity baseball coach at Kenwood from 1968 to ’75, and at Curie from 1984 to ’89. In 1989, he retired as a high school coach to follow the baseball careers of his three sons, Kevin, Tim and Scott.

Tim Byrdak, his father said, is a bowler as well.

“He’s bowls with the Mets,” Byrdak said. “They used to, for spring training, have a Sunday night bowling league among the guys on the team. He carries anywhere from a 185 to a 200 average.”

Perfect, times two

When Crestwood native Mike Hannafin found his groove in the sixth frame of his first game Oct. 17 at Centennial Lanes in Tinley Park, he rode it to house history.

Hannafin, 22, didn’t stop striking until he had 31 in a row and finished with scores of 248, 300 and 300 for a Centennial-record 848 series. The 848 broke the previous standard of 846, by Tony Slezak, of Orland Park.

“I found my shot in the middle of the first game and couldn’t miss after that,” Hannafin said. “Everything I threw was just dead-on, perfect.”

Hannafin, who works as a mechanic and porter at Centennial, was a three-time state finalist as a high school bowler at Oak Forest. His previous high league series were an 808 and 801, both shot during the 2012-13 season at Centennial.

Turkey-tapping

Arena Lanes will celebrate Thanksgiving Eve with a 9-pin Doubles No Tap tournament. The tourney was started in 1991 by Area owner/proprietor Bill Bard.

“It was just a spur of the moment thing, something to try the night before Thanksgiving,” Bard said. “We were close to full the first year and were almost overbooking the second year. It turned into a real barnburner.”

The tourney is open to league bowlers only. For information, call (708) 425-0900.



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