Fellow Players Elect Chris Keane as 2014 PBA50 Dick Weber Sportsmanship Award Winner

by Jerry Schneider September 18, 2014 02:33

Veteran PBA50 Tour player Chris Keane of Cape Coral, Florida has been selected as the Dick Weber Sportsmanship Award winner for the 2014 PBA50 Tour season in voting by his fellow competitors.

Keane, 56, has been competing on the PBA50 Tour for four seasons. He has a career-high finish of 12th which came in the 2012 PBA50 Northern California Classic and had three top-20 finishes in 2014, including a best of 14th which also came in the Northern California Classic.

“I’m very honored and proud that my fellow bowlers would think of me that way,” said Keane. “You can’t help but enjoy yourself and have fun (on the PBA50 Tour), so I guess that attitude was reflected to the other bowlers.”

Keane seized the opportunity to bowl full-time on the PBA50 Tour after selling his car wash and auto repair business several years ago.

“I was a serious league and tournament bowler and it became something of a goal and challenge to see if I could bowl against some of the greats of the game,” he said. “I consider myself very fortunate to be able to spend so much time doing something that is this much fun. I just enjoy the whole experience.”

Also nominated for the award were Bill McCorkle, Patrick King, Sammy Ventura, Parker Bohn III and Amleto Monacelli.

Other 2014 PBA50 Tour award winners were Norm Duke, who earned PBA50 Tour Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors and Johnny Petraglia who earned PBA60 Player of the Year. Player of the Year awards were based on competition points. Recipients will receive their awards during a presentation at the 2015 PBA Senior U.S. Open next June in Las Vegas.

The Dick Weber Sportsmanship Award is named in honor of the PBA legend who won 30 PBA Tour and six PBA50 Tour titles during his Hall of Fame career, and was considered one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors.

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Barb Wilt Retires After 44-Year Career of Service to PBA and its Members

by Jerry Schneider August 26, 2014 09:33

 

In the 56-year history of the PBA, there is no one who has personally experienced as much of the history and evolution of the sport’s professional organization than Barb Wilt, who will bring her 44-year career with PBA to an end when she retires on Aug. 31.

Wilt began her career with PBA in a clerical position in July 1970 when PBA’s offices were located on Merriman Road in Akron, Ohio, and there were just five people working in the office. Over the next 44 years, she created a legacy of service to the organization and its members.

“It’s impossible to thank Barb Wilt enough for her professionalism, reliability and talent over an amazing career with PBA,” said PBA Commissioner Tom Clark. “Without ever having thrown a ball in competition, Barb has been the heart of the association and no one has meant more to the enduring history of the PBA.”

It was an employment agency newspaper ad and an opportunity to work in public relations that peaked Wilt’s interest in working with PBA.

“I saw this ad in the paper for a job at the PBA which included working in public relations among other things, so I went to the employment agency and applied, and they sent me for an interview,” said Wilt. “I met with Joe Antenora (who was director of operations and later commissioner) and (financial director) Chuck Clemens and they contacted me a couple of days later with an offer. I paid Snelling and Snelling $250 for helping me get the job and they were kind enough to let me take out a loan and I made monthly payments of $25 to pay off the fee.

“By the way,” Wilt added jokingly, “public relations meant running press releases on the mimeograph machine and stuffing them in envelopes and then mailing them.”

She may have been disappointed with that PR job, but there was no shortage of things to do as the organization grew. Wilt was called on to handle assignments in membership and tournament entries among other jobs which became increasingly important with the development of the senior and regional tours.

“I processed all PBA Tour entries and payments and sent all mailings to the membership and media,” she said. “Later, I became involved in keeping tournament and player stats in our database which is something I have been doing ever since I started.

“I’ve seen so many things and had the pleasure of meeting so many people. It doesn’t seem possible; I mean, who thinks when they walk into an office on the first day that they’ll still be there 44 years later?”

Wilt wasn’t a stranger to bowling when she applied to work with PBA which no doubt led to her interest in the job at the PBA. She lived near a bowling center in Akron as a kid.

“The first director of operations at the PBA was Danny Mitseff whose father owned Bories Bowland which was at the end of my street when I was in junior high,” said Wilt. “In the summer we would go down there to get out of the heat. One dollar could get your rental shoes, two games, a Coke and a Kit Kat candy bar. Pop Mitseff wanted you to bowl when you came into his establishment so I was fortunate to be taught how to bowl correctly by Danny’s father when I was 12 years old.”

Another interesting part of her experience with PBA was not actually working for PBA at all, but helping PBA founder Eddie Elias with some of his projects.

“Eddie (Elias) who was an agent and manager who represented people in entertainment and sports. He would get scripts and unpublished books from people all the time and he would pay me on the side to read them and tell him what I thought,” she said. “His administrative assistant (Rainy Stitzlien) also had a boutique attached to our building and she sold furs and other high-end clothing. Once I got asked to try on clothes and model them because actor Bernard Fox, who played Colonel Crittenton on the TV series Hogan’s Heroes and Dr. Bombay on Bewitched, wanted to buy something for his wife. I had a build similar to hers.

“Since Eddie’s company was in the same building, you didn’t just work for the PBA but for Eddie Elias Enterprises and for Rainy’s company as well. I got to meet movie and TV stars, professional golfers, and, of course, the greatest bowlers in the world.”

As a nearly lifelong bowling fan, Wilt also was excited with the opportunity to meet and work with the world’s greatest bowlers who were made famous on ABC telecasts of the PBA Tour.

“I always loved bowling,” she said, “I watched it on ABC before I started working at PBA, so I was really excited to get to meet all the bowlers. I’ve been blessed to know the Weber family and all the truly great bowlers who have come and gone over the years and to watch some of our current champions grow up and become successful. One project that was really closed to my heart was getting the opportunity to teach and be part of the PBA School.

“More recently, seeing PBA’s growth internationally, changes in technology and to see people like Jason Belmonte and Osku Palermaa revolutionizing the sport with their two-handed delivery have kept working with PBA very interesting to me.”

Now in retirement, Wilt will continue what might be her most important job of all – as a grandmother – to eight-month-old Will when she moves across country to Asheville, North Carolina to be closer to her daughters Angie and Amanda (who lives in Carrollton, Ga.) and their families. She also plans to do some volunteer work with the Asheville Humane Society.

If there was one guiding principle that guided Wilt throughout her career it was the dedication to customer service.

“I would often get the same question a hundred times, but I had to make each person or player feel like they were getting the best part of me and they were getting the best service possible,” she said. “You have to always remember that these were people who cared a lot about the sport and it was their passion, and in many cases their dream.”

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Duke Earns PBA50 Player and Rookie of the Year But Williams and Weber Top 2014 PBA50 Tour Statistics

by Jerry Schneider August 21, 2014 02:33

It didn’t take long for PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke to make an impact on the PBA50 Tour. In his rookie season on the tour for players ages 50 and older, the 37-time PBA Tour champion from Clermont, Florida, became only the second player to earn PBA50 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season.

Despite the great season Duke had, it was two other PBA greats – Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Pete Weber – who led the PBA50 Tour statistical races, claiming the top spots in average, earnings and competition points over the course of the 11-tournament campaign.

Duke, who won two titles in 2014 including the Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open presented by Dexter for his first major, joined fellow hall of famer Tom Baker (2005) as the second player to earn the PBA50 Tour’s top awards in the same year. Pete Couture, Mark Roth, Wayne Webb and Williams have also won both honors, but not in the same year.  Duke also joins, Webb, Williams and Roth as the only players to earn PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour Player of the Year crowns.

In addition to his two victories, Duke had three other top-five finishes in the seven tournaments he entered, including second-place finishes in the Dayton Classic presented by Roto Grip and Pasco County Open to win Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year which are based on points awarded for championship round appearances. He finished second in average (233.63), fourth in competition points (141,226) and fourth in earnings ($33,940).

Williams, another two-time winner in 2014 including the USBC Senior Masters for his first PBA50 major title, fell short of his third straight PBA50 Player of the Year title, but he did manage to repeat as earnings ($45,313) and competition points leader (196,062) for the third consecutive year. He also had eight other top-10 finishes including third-place finishes in the Grants Pass Open presented by Track and Pasco County Open.

Weber, who won one title and had seven other top-10 finishes including runner-up finishes in the Senior U.S. Open and Miller High Life Classic presented by Columbia 300, led the average list for the second year in a row, scoring at a PBA50 Tour-record 234.79 pace for 268 games for a one-plus-pin lead over Duke (233.63). Weber finished second in competition points (178,220) and third in earnings ($35,145).

Baker, who made a run at a record fifth PBA50 Player of the Year crown, also won two titles, but a second-place finish to Williams in the season-ending PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open presented by Hammer ended his bid to overtake Duke. Baker, who turns 60 Sept. 12, finished second in earnings ($37,980), third in competition points (166,737) and ninth in average (226.01).

By virtue of finishing in the top eight in competition points, Williams, Weber, Baker, Duke and four others in the top eight earned paid entries into PBA World Series of Bowling VI and a berth in the PBA50 Tour Finals which will result in a berth for two players in a PBA Challenge telecast on ESPN. Hall of Famers Parker Bohn III and Amleto Monacelli, two-time PBA50 Player of the Year Ron Mohr and three-time PBA50 Tour winner Harry Sullins also qualified for the finals. Those eight will bowl an eight-game round-robin match play event on Friday, Oct. 24, to determine the PBA Challenge finalists.

Adding to his lengthy portfolio of PBA honors, PBA Hall of Famer and the 1998 PBA50 Rookie of the Year Johnny Petraglia earned Super Senior Player of the Year for players 60 and over as competition points leader among his 60-and-older peers. He had three top-10 finishes including a second-place finish in the PBA50 Dick Weber Super Senior Classic presented by Storm.

For complete PBA50 Tour stats, visit pba.com and click on the “statistics” tab.

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PBA Hall of Famer Gene Stus Dies at 74

by Jerry Schneider August 18, 2014 10:48

 

PBA Hall of Famer and Senior Tour standout Gene Stus died Monday (Aug. 18) at age 74.

As a competitive bowler for most of his adult life, Stus had always wondered how he might have done on the PBA Tour. But the opportunity to compete in Tour competition didn’t present itself until he was able to retire from General Motors after 32 years at the age of 50 and became a regular on the Senior Tour, now called the PBA50 Tour.

Even as a late-bloomer in the professional ranks, Stus’ career on the Senior Tour would ultimately lead to his induction into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2012.

Stus’ 11 Senior Tour titles ranks fifth on the all-time list behind fellow Hall of Famers John Handegard with 14 titles, Gary Dickinson, Dale Eagle and Tom Baker, each with 12.

In 1992, Stus earned Senior Player of the Year honors thanks in part to winning two titles. In July of that year he became the first Senior Tour player to bowl a 300 game on national television, defeating Don Gilman, 300-188, in the Pacific Cal Bowl Senior Open in Lakewood, Calif.

“It was an honor to bowl with the sport’s greats who I admired my whole life and I always wondered how I would measure up,” said Stus, in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. “When I was able to retire at 50, I started to get back to bowling seriously and found I still had the touch.

“Bowling on the Senior Tour was a lot more than achieving the dream of bowling with the greats of the game,” he added. “Just to be around them and to remember all the fun we had on and off the lanes for those years was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Stus had 50 top-five finishes in 173 PBA50 Tour appearances. He also owned one PBA Regional title and six PBA50 Regional titles.

According to good friend and fellow PBA member Dave Bernhardt, Stus died as a result of a long-standing heart condition.

Stus, elected to the USBC Hall of Fame in 2009, was a three-time USBC Open Championships titlist (1987 Team All-Events title, 1990 Team title, 1992 Doubles title). He was also a member of the Taylor Sports Hall of Fame, the Greater Detroit Bowling Association Hall of Fame, and the Michigan State Bowling Association Hall of Fame.

Stus is survived by his wife Sally, son Troy, stepson Gary Tis, grandchildren Cayla, Chris, D.J., Cody and Nolan, and two great grandchildren.

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PBA SPARE SHOTS: Regional Coverage Next Up for Xtra Frame

by Jerry Schneider August 14, 2014 03:36

 

With the PBA50 Tour season now in the record books, Xtra Frame, the PBA’s online bowling channel, will turn its attention to PBA Regional competition in the weeks ahead. Next up is the PBA Bowlerama Lanes Midwest Region Open from Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 23-24, which will include coverage of the first of three PBA Women’s Regional competitions in the Midwest Region.

On the September calendar will include the PBA Grand Hotel, Casino and Resort Southwest Regional Invitational from Shawnee, Okla., Sept. 5-7, and the Diamond Jo’s Casino Midwest Open at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque, Iowa, Sept. 13-14. The Dubuque event will be the second of three PBA Women’s Regional events in the Midwest Region.

Fans who haven’t experienced Xtra Frame can enroll under the monthly rate of $7.99, or sign up for a full year for $64.99. To sign up, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.

ANOTHER 15 MINUTES OF FAME FOR PBA50 TOUR TITLIST MIKE PULLIN

Mike Pullin of Rochelle, Ill., the 1999 PBA50 Rookie of the Year and 2000 PBA50 Hammond (Ind.) Open winner, was featured as the No. 2 star of ESPN Sports Center’s Top 10 Plays of the Day on Tuesday, Aug. 12…but it had nothing to do with his bowling skills.

Pullin, now 65 and retired, put his long-time softball skills to play by rising to his feet and catching a long home run hit by Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger Mark Reynolds at Wrigley Field in Chicago before it disappeared over the left field wall onto Waveland Avenue. Pullin, who then pulled the old “switcheroo,” saved the ball he caught and retrieved an old ball out of pouch he carried along, throwing it back into the Chicago Cubs’ outfield. The entire episode, and more, became a hit not only on ESPN, but on Chicago television stations.

PBA REGIONAL SUMMARY: LAVERY, GUERRERO SHINE IN KILLEEN SOUTHWEST EVENT

● Sean Lavery of Pasadena, Texas, defeated five-time PBA Killeen Southwest Open winner Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, 259-237, to win his first PBA Regional title Sunday in the 18th annual PBA Killeen Southwest Open at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen, Texas.

Lavery, 23, rebounded from an early open frame with a string of strikes, clinching the title in the 10th frame with his eighth strike in a row. Lavery started his road to victory by eliminating last week’s Fort Sill, Okla. champion, Anthony Simonsen of Mesquite, Texas, 2-1 in the opening round of the best two-of-three matches. He then defeated former U.S. Open champion Robert Lawrence of Del Valle, Texas, in the Round of 12, 2-0; Shawn Maldonado from Houston, Texas, 2-0, in the round of 8, and three-time PBA Tour titlist Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix, Ariz., in the semifinal round.

In the first of three Southwest Region Women’s Series events, Colombia native Clara Guerrero of Pflugerville, Texas, grabbed the points lead with a third-place overall finish. Fellow Colombian Maria Rodriguez of Austin, Texas, the 2014 USBC Queens champion, was the next of five women, cashing in at 17th place.

● Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., clinched his 12th PBA Regional title with a 259-171 win over Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., in the final match of the PBA Brighton Construction South Classic at Waccamaw Lanes in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sunday.

O’Neill, holding onto a 58-pin lead going into the position round, finished with a 25-game total of 5,650 pins and a 146-pin margin of victory over Jones to claim $2,500 for the win. Jones, who bowled the only 300 game in the tournament, earned $1,300 for his 5,504 pinfall total.

The Myrtle Beach tournament was the second PBA South Region Women’s Regional. Amateur Melia Bennett of South Charleston, W.Va., was the highest-finishing women in the event, finishing out of the money in 32nd place with an eight-game total of 1,590 pins, but earning a $250 prize as the top woman in the field. Crystal Hall of St. Pauls, N.C., was the highest-placing woman PBA member in the field, finishing 37th.

● Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y., defeated Travis Celmer of Wernersville, Pa., 278-246, to win the PBA Bowlers Supply/Storm Products Eastern Open at Colony Park North Lanes Sunday in York, Pa.

Pepe and Celmer each started the championship match with strings of strikes. Celmer broke off after five and missed a single pin spare. Pepe had the first six strikes, converted a split in the seventh frame before striking out to close out the match. Pepe earned $3,100 and his first PBA title for the win while Celmer earned $1,600 as the runner-up.

Pepe had competed in several PBA regional events as a non-member – winning twice – prior to joining the PBA before the 2013 PBA World Series of Bowling. His win came in his fourth PBA East Regional event as a member while Celmer finished second in the York event for the third time in the last four years.

Ron Mohr of Las Vegas picked up $1,700 and his 13th career PBA Regional title when he defeated traveling roommate Darron Peters of Temecula, Calif., 211-167, to win the PBA50 Beverly Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Arlington Heights, Ill., on Aug. 3.

● The Aug. 15-17 PBA Regional calendar includes the Emerald Bowl Southwest Challenge presented by Bowling Dynamix, for non-champions, in Houston, Texas; the Dave Husted Northwest Open presented by Dexter at Husted’s Milwaukie Bowl in Milwaukie, Ore.; the Bethmann Russell Syracuse Eastern Open presented by Radical (a PBA Women’s Regional points event) at Flamingo Bowl in Liverpool, N.Y., and the Lefeld Implement Central Classic (a PBA Women’s Regional points event) at Pla-Mor Lanes in Coldwater, Ohio.

The Aug. 22-24 regional schedule includes the Fayetteville South Open (a PBA Women’s Regional points event) at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Mil-Ray Foods East Open presented by Columbia 300 at Brunswick Zone in Deptford, N.J.(a PBA Women’s Regional event); the PBA and PBA50 Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes Capital City West/Northwest Opens presented by DV8 (a PBA Women’s West and Northwest Region points event) in Citrus Heights, Calif.; the Greenville Southwest Open presented by allbowling.com (a PBA Women’s Regional points event) at Shenaniganz in Greenville, Texas, and the Bowlerama Lanes Midwest Open presented by Radical (a live Xtra Frame event and a PBA Women’s Regional points event) in Des Moines, Iowa.

The extended Labor Day weekend includes another full schedule of events, including the PBA50 Wilson & Sons Termite Pest Control Super Senior Open (for players 60 and older) followed by the PBA50 Mooresville South Open at George Pappas’ Victory Lanes in Mooresville, N.C.; the Tony Reyes Memorial Member/Non-Member Doubles presented by Brunswick at Fourth Street Bowl in San Jose, Calif., and the BOWLSTRONG Midwest/Central Challenge (for non-winners) plus the BOWLSTRONG Midwest/Central Tournament of Champions (for PBA title winners) at King Pin Lanes in Springfield, Ill.

Kicking off the September schedule will be the PBA50 Kingsport Super Senior South Open for players 60 and older at Warpath Lanes in Kingsport, Tenn., Sept. 2-4, followed by Sept. 5-7 weekend events including the Moon City Central Classic presented by Roto Grip at Astro Lanes in Wapakoneta, Ohio; the Grand Hotel, Casino & Resort Southwest Invitational at Firelake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla. (featuring live Xtra Frame coverage); the PBA50 Howell Lanes East Open in Howell, N.J.; the Rufus West Open presented by Columbia 300 at FlipSide Lanes in Gilbert, Ariz., and a pair of one-day PBA50 events presented by Ebonite at Illinois Valley Super Bowl in Peru, Ill.

For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area.

QUICK NOTES

Prior to the season-ending PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open presented by Hammer in Welch, Minn., Pete Weber and KARE-TV 11 sports director Eric Perkins took part in the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Bowl Down Cancer charity event that raised more than $8,000 for the USBC Minnesota State Bowling Association Cancer Fund. Donations were raised through pledges-per-pin during the challenge two-game match between Weber and Perkins, matching donations by Treasure Island Resort & Casino, and bowling shirt and ball donated by Weber for auction. The top individual fund raiser – 11-year-old Zach Medin – also had the opportunity to compete against Weber in a one-game match.

Bryan Goebel of Shawnee, Kan., is the 41st member of the PBA Millionaire’s Club, surpassing the milestone in PBA career earnings with his Round of 16 finish in the PBA50 South Shore Open in Hammond, Ind., last week. Goebel, 52, started his PBA Tour career in 1981 and has bowled in just over 510 PBA events across the years.

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