Harry (Doc) Rissel earned his Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame status by virtue of his achievements in baseball and bowling.
Rissel was born on April 23, 1918, in Buffalo and moved to Kennedy at the age of one. He went to Kennedy Elementary School followed by attending Falconer Central School.
While at Falconer, Rissel was an outstanding athlete as he lettered three years as a tackle on the football team and two in baseball as a catcher.
Rissel was coached by Kenneth Anderson at Falconer and praised him as the type of person one likes to play for and learn lessons that are helpful in future years. Among his football teammates was Chautauqua Sports Hall of Famer Lou DeSantis.
Manager Morrie Mistretta, who also is in the Hall of Fame, of the Jamestown Spiders was very impressed with Rissel's catching and wanted him to join his semi-pro team. However, he joined the Army instead in 1942 and served his country for over four years in such places as Africa, England and Italy with a Staff Sergeant ranking.
While in the service, he was the catcher and his outfit was looking forward to playing Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics in an exhibition game but it was cancelled. He had made a quick visit home to see his parents (Mr. & Mrs. Frank Rissel), then, returned to his base in Millville, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, only to be very disappointed to find the game called off.
Rissel first began playing baseball outside school competition with Kennedy in the Chautauqua County Association. After returning from the service, Rissel performed for the American Legion in 1947 and that squad was managed by Billy Wright Sr.
In 1948, he began a very successful three-year career with Falconer Milling, which in his first year knocked off favored Mitchell Field 8-5, in the New York State Semi-Pro Tournament held in Jamestown. That event was won by the Jamestown Steel Partitions.
Also in 1948, Rissel hurled a no-hitter for Milling in the Muny AA League. A walk in the fourth inning prevented a perfect game for Rissel, who fanned eight and allowed only three balls to the outfield. In 1951, Falconer Milling players played under Turcotte Milling in both the Muny and County Leagues.
Rissel managed Jamestown Legion in 1951 and additionally piloted Fenton Lumber, Ellington, Marlin-Rockwell Rollers and the Steel Partition Bombers. Also, he helped form the Muny A league for players 17-20 years of age in 1962 and was the winning manager three of the five years with the 1558 Tigers.
In 1954, Rissel was chosen an all-star for the Steel Partition Bombers in the Muny AA League. For his playing career, which ended in 1959, Rissel batted a brilliant .333 in a 25-year career.
In the winter Rissel became a tremendous bowler and started that sport when he was 29 in 1947 with Matthews Tire & Thread at the no longer Falconer Bowl-O-Drome.
Eventually, he became a well-known kegler around the state as he rolled numerous 700s, competed in American Bowling Congress Tournaments in Syracuse (1958), Toledo (1960), Detroit (1961), Buffalo (1963) and Miami (1967).
Rissel took the all-events in the Jamestown Tournament in 1968 when he also combined with Don Spitz to capture the City Doubles-Event Tournament. His 201 league average in 1971 made him one of the few ever to have an average that high for a season.
He was a member of the Jamestown All-Star team that won the first North-South County Tournament in 1975 and his team won 14 championship awards.
Other awards collected were the ABC Eleven in a row, 700 Club of Erie, BCA 700 Club, BPAA "Star of the Week."
Rissel was the anchorman for many area teams in classic competition with his first taste of that participation being at Ten Pin Lanes where he was a member of the Rolling Rock team, which included Morrie and Phil Mistretta, Joe Agliolo and Elt Swanson. He was an anchor for Berglund Chevrolet, Aluminum Contracting and Satellite Bowl.
His first television appearance was in 1963 on the regionally televised Utica Club Show from Albany and he was the winner. His next TV appearance was a winning performance on Buffalo's Beat The Champ, then, the following week he placed runnerup.
In 1969, Rissel finished ninth in an International Bowling Association Tournament. As one might expect, Rissel was selected to many all-star teams and his 718 in 1951 was the first one rolled in Jamestown for a 10-year period. He was inducted in the Jamestown Area Bowling Council's Hall of Fame.
His last 700 series came in 1983, at age 65, in the Cycle Shop Classic.
Harry Rissel died in 1983. He was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
Help Build the Collection
The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame is an organization formed in 1980 to honor Chautauqua County, New York area sports celebrities. You can help with that mission by sharing what you may know or have.
We are interested in collecting:
- Stories about sports in Chautauqua County and our inductees
- Photographs about sports in Chautauqua County and our inductees
- Artifacts related to sports in Chautauqua County and our inductees