NEBA celebrates 50th

by Bob Johnson 0

In an era when high-level regional bowling competition has become an endangered species, the New England Bowlers Assn. is ready to begin its 50th season.

No organization has been running monthly scratch tournaments longer — dating back to when Joe Picanzo won the very first NEBA event in January 1963.

NEBA is kicking off this special season in style with a 50th Anniversary Tournament this weekend at AMF Silver Lanes in East Hartford, Conn. With $3,500 in added money, it’s expected that first place will pay $3,000 and the last cashing spot will be worth $250.

Many pro bowlers cut their competitive teeth in NEBA before joining the PBA, and through the years, the organization has run 755 tournaments and crowned 401 different champions. Mike Lichstein, son of former PBA Player Services Direcotr Larry Lichstein, is the all-time title leader with 27. The NEBA website ( has a complete list of champions.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.