If you know Lynn candlepin bowling, you know the name Lacey.
Al Lacey appeared on Channel 5’s “Candlepin Bowling Stars” show and other TV showcases more than 25 times. He is a professional bowler in every sense, taking his rightful place alongside Lynn legends such as Tom Cennami, Jim Barber, Joe Tavernese, George Raymond, Mike Morgan, the late Tom Morgan, and the best of the current superstars, Shawn Baker, Dave Barber, and Jonathan Boudreau.
Vanessa Lacey, Al’s 32-year-old daughter, has been a very good bowler for a long time, excelling in the Lynn PALS League and the Lynn Tech Students’ League run by teacher Tony Schillaci when she was a student there in the late 1990s. Her sister, Renee, had the highest average in the Tech League.
Vanessa had the best day of her bowling career the week before Thanksgiving, scaling over the 400 plateau with individual strings of 159, 125, and 120 at her home alleys, Jim Barber’s Lucky Strike Lanes on Buffum Street.
“It felt awesome to bowl my first 400 triple,” said Vanessa. “I also got my first triple-strike in the 159 string. I’ve been bowling for 26 years. I started at the age of 6 at Lucky Strike Lanes and I’ve been bowling ever since.”
Vanessa said it was her father that introduced her to the game. “I knew he was an awesome bowler and was on TV all the time. He took me bowling at Lucky Strikes a lot. He taught me how to bowl. Since I started bowling with him, my average kept going up. We have a similar motion.”
Vanessa has competed at the professional level, although the Channel 5 show (which also featured top female bowlers like Stasia Czernicki, Tony Marie Baldinelli, and Janet Poch) was off the air by the time Vanessa turned pro.
“I bowled in the women’s pro league for Lucky Strike with Debbie Scannell, Beth Powers, Chris Pawlak, and Donna Jamieson,” said Vanessa.
The talented right-hander is having an excellent season, averaging 111 in the Friday Night League at Lucky Strike. “I wished they still had the Channel 5 show.”
Vanessa, who works in data entry, is an avid sports fan but says bowling is her biggest hobby.
Al Lacey, who has a high triple of 476 and a high single of 224 (five strikes in a row), said he witnessed his daughter’s 404 score and her triple strike.
“They were all good strikes,” said Al. “There weren’t any cheap ones. They were all good hits.”
Al indicated that he and Vanessa have different approaches on the lanes.
“I take four steps – she takes three steps,” said Al. “She looks at the pins and I don’t.”
Though he’s not competing in any pro leagues or on tour, Al Lacey is still rolling along at a hefty clip: he has a 117 average.
“No more serious bowling stuff for me,” said Al, who added that he’s very proud of his daughter Vanessa, who’s carrying on the family’s tradition of candelpin bowling excellence at Lucky Strike, one of only two bowling establishments in the city.