Friends, Family, Honor Richie ‘Hawk’ Halas on His 70th Birthday

There was a time when there were two candlepin bowling establishments in Chelsea, George Michelson’s Broadway Bowling above Slaton’s Furniture and Chet Pawlak’s Chelsea Square Alleys on Winnisimmet Street.

And the king of candlepin bowling in Chelsea was Richie ‘Hawk’ Halas, although Hawk himself humbly considers the great Max Valentin to be the best bowler to ever come out of Chelsea.

“Max won 12 consecutive matches on Don Gillis’ “Candlepin Bowling” show,” said Halas. “That’s an amazing streak and Max had a tremendous career. His brother, Izzy, was a fine bowler, too.”

Halas is 70 years old now, having just celebrated the milestone at a party at MIXX 360 in Malden. Several of his longtime bowling league mates from Chucky Vozzella’s Central Park Lanes in East Boston attended the celebration.

“I had so many fun bowling experiences at Central Park Lanes,” said Halas. “The 1-2-3 Ball, the tournaments, the TV rolloffs, the Friday Night Pro League – Chucky runs such a great house and I’m so grateful to him and all my friends in Eastie for being such wonderful, generous people. If I could turn back the clock, I would do it all again.”

 At the party there was great food and fun, and the family even came up with the creative idea of having a “Hawk Halas” souvenir candy bar that was given to all guests.

Sports a Big Part of his Life in Chelsea

The son of Anthony Halas Sr. and Phyllis M. Halas, Richard Halas was born on March 16, 1952. He had a brother, Anthony Halas Jr.

He graduated in 1971 from Chelsea High where he played basketball, baseball and football. His coaches were Arnold Goodman (basketball), Joseph Bevere (baseball), and Anthony Tiro (football).

By high school, he had already become a prolific candlepin bowler, making an appearance on the Junior Bowling show where he lost to Bob Olivero, also of Chelsea.

“Bob beat me 103 to 97 at Boylston Bowladrome,” recalled Halas.

“I had started bowling when I was seven years old, because I lived near the bowling alleys. George Michelson, the owner, and his assistant, Al Botka, took me under their wings.”

Halas played baseball for Buster Leach’s Giants in the Chelsea Little League and for Coach Larry Notkin’s Red Sox in the Chelsea Pony League where he was a standout, right-handed pitcher.

“We won three championships,” said Halas. “Larry was a great coach. We had some terrifiv players, Tommy Fazio, Jimmy “Joe” Ippolito, Joe VonHandorf, Bobby Breau, Billy Lanzo, Richard Christopher, John Moran, and Wally Jones. The Braves were our main rival. They had Joel Gallant, Rico Tyre, Paul Wedge, Howie Yanoff, Dickie Taraskiewicz, Sal Yebba. Joel Gallant was the best pitcher in the league.”

He later played in the Chelsea Municipal Fast Pitch Softball League for the Alderman DiOrio Club, Ed Grill’s and Durant Paint. “The games used to pack Carter Park with fans,” said Halas. “Those were great days.”

A Hall of Fame Bowling Career

When he was 19, Halas made his first appearance on Don Gillis’ famed bowling show. Known for his textbook form, his phenomenal pin-picking ability, and his sportsmanship, Halas competed 45 times on TV bowling shows and was inducted into the Candlepin Bowling Hall of Fame. Richie Halas and Peter Flynn set a record for the highest combined score on the Channel 5 show.

“I bowled 422 and lost to Peter Flynn who bowled 437 – it was a great match,” said Halas.

Hawk practiced regularly and was prpud to represent Central Park Lanes in the Pro League, arguably the most competitive league on the candlepin bowling circuit.

Gratitude to his Family

Hawk said he was grateful to his wife, Linda, and their daughters, Colby O’Connor and Courtney Halas, for their support of his bowling career. Courtney’s inspiring cheers from the audience for her father at Sammy White’s Brighton Bowl were very much a part of the hallowed Halas bowling tradition.

“I married Linda on June 5, 1982,” said Halas. “We have our 40th anniversary coming up in June. I have two fantastic daughters, Colby and Courtney, and two grandchildren, Evan, 7, and Hannah, 4.

“I’ve had a great life,” continued Hawk. “Every day I wake up I thank the good Lord. I had a good job with FedEx, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Of the 32 years that I was there, I think I called in sick twice.”

Halas is enjoying his retirement and works three days a week for Deluxe Limousine. He has cut way back on his candlepin bowling, the sport that made him a household name in New England.

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