February 26, 2007 19:00
Last summer, Billy Oatman became the first African-American to earn a full-season exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour. Now the 41-year-old rookie is looking to join George Branham III as the only African-Americans to win PBA Tour titles. Oatman has come close this season, finishing second in January's Motel 6 Classic. He currently sits 30th in the PBA World Point Rankings, needing to stay in the top 40 to maintain his exemption for next season. Beginning Feb. 27, he will be competing in the 64th U.S. Open in North Brunswick, N.J.
Comment from Billy Oatman: What's up everyone! I want to say hello and thanks for tuning in. I want to send a shout out to everybody that is chatting and on-line today. Fire away.
Longview, Washington: What do you do to stay in shape at 41 years old and bowling against the young guns?
Billy Oatman: I'm going to start a workout regimen after this season but for right now just eating pizzas and cheeseburgers.
East Chicago, Indiana: Dear Mr. Oatman: It is great to know that you are having so much success on tour this year. How can we as bowlers understand the learning curve and process to get to where you are. What steps should be taken mentally as well as physically to achieve at each level.
Billy Oatman: Work on your fundamentals and your spares. Those are two key elements to surviving out here on Tour. There is no preparation. This is like on the job training. You learn as you go.
Surprise, AZ: Being ranked 32nd indicates that you're doing pretty well for your rookie year. As the year draws to a close, will you be doing anything differently to help you move up in the rankings?
Billy Oatman: Yes I will. I'm going to win instead of finish second. Seriously, I'm just not going to take me being out here for granted. Im going to appreciate it, respect it, and truely understand that at any given time it can be taken away from me.
Des Moines, IA: What challenges do you face day in and day out as a first-year exempt player on the tour? Do you feel at a disadvantage because you are new to the tour?
Billy Oatman: The challenges I face are the demanding lane conditions. I actually have an advantage because a lot of players take me for granted. And sometimes that bites them in the butt.
Detroit, Mich: Which would you consider a higher level of achievement...finishing in the top 40 or being voted Rookie of the Year and does that award carry a one year exemption? "DAD" Williams
Billy Oatman: Finishing in the top 40 because I can be Rookie of the Year and not be exempt. That award does not award an exemption.
Cubs Guy - Mesa, AZ: Hi Billy...what's the biggest difference between bowling on the Denny's PBA Tour compared to the Regional Tour?
Billy Oatman: There are no TV shows on the Regional Tour and you are not competing against all 58 exempt bowlers at one time.
Detroit, MI: I live in the Detroit area where there are a lot of highly skilled quality bowlers. Until I saw you, I had not seen any black man really bowl. Do you have plans to bowl in the Metro Detroit area? Do you participate with the TNBA?
Billy Oatman: Yeah I bowled in the Detroit area in Taylor, Michigan. I participated in TNBA but now that I am a PBA bowler the TNBA is over for me.
santa rosa C.a: Congrats again for your bowling. Billy, what was the feeling you had making your first show? Where you nervous???? Jim Snavely, 196 league average Bowler
Billy Oatman: It was the greatest day of my life. Yes i was nervous and at the same time it was one of the most heartbreaking days of my life.
Chicago,Ill: What up Billy "O", What is the most challenging part of a PBA tournament...qualifying or match play or match play? -DRock
Billy Oatman: I would say qualifying is much more challenging because in match play you can bowl badly and actually win. That cannot happen in qualifying.
East Cleveland, Ohio: As a 15-year-old African-American league bowler I wish to one day make the cut for the PBA Tour. I plan to go to college first, do you have any advise?
Billy Oatman: Make some goals and stick to them. Do not let your fundamentals slip. Any education on bowling you can get take it. Also take the time to smell the roses. It's not always about winning. It's about the journey toward the title.
Orlando Florida: Billy, I am a mother of a 7-year-old African American child who saw you on television and he wants to become a professional bowler. He is a little bowler now. What should I be doing now as his mother to encourage him now but not push him too much, and like you, he is a lefty.
Billy Oatman: Support him and let him be a kid. Right now bowling is fun for him so let it remain fun. He has plenty of time to take it seriously.
Pearl City Hawaii: Aloha Billy, Great job out their on tour. I am sure there is a PBA title in the wings for you. My Question: How has the tour been for you thus far. Is it what you expected or more?
Billy Oatman: The Tour is more than what I expected. I'm having a blast meeting wonderful people across the country and living my dream.
Houston, Texas: Billy! How have you been? It's me Manuel back from the Wichita State days. I was rooting for you to throw that double and get your first title. It will come. Hang in there and keep pluggin away. Anyway, had to say hello. ..... man we had some good times while getting into a little bit of mischief. Me, you, and Pat if you can remember. My bowling days have been over for some time now.
Billy Oatman: Whats up Manuel! Last time I saw you you had a cool Grand Prix. Email me!
Chicago, Illinois: How do the other guys on tour treat you and so far what is your favorite pattern?
Billy Oatman: The guys have gained respect for me and they understand that I am qualified to be out here. My favorite patterns are the Cheetah and the Viper.
Vermilion, Ohio: Just wondering how you keep that pretty dome of yours so shiny all the time. I want to see you on TV a couple more times so keep it going my friend. Remember havefun :)
Billy Oatman: Sweating a lot and Magic Shave. :)
Sicklerville, New Jersey: Congrats on making the exempt field. Being African American, do you find gaining your sponsors was more difficult than it is for other bowlers?
Billy Oatman: Actually it was easier to find sponsors being that companies look for things that stand out. I guess I am the new flavor of the month so I was a little bit more marketable.
Reinholds, Pennsylvania: A lot of bowlers today say that they are going to make the pro tour and be one of the most famous bowlers out there. What does it take for a bowler to make the pro tour? About how much practice a week would you say you need?
Billy Oatman: It takes three things to survive out here on the Tour: Number one is desire. You have to desire to be the best. Number two is belief. You have to believe that you can compete and win out here. Number three is expectancy. You have to expect success out here. Without these three you cannot survive. I can only speak for myself on practice. I practice about 20 games a week on the lanes and about 150 games off the lanes in my mind.
Chicago, Ill.: Were you really talking to Byrd when you said on the show, "That's for you Byrd"??? Or were you talking about the bird that took a crap on you after the Tour Trials???? Mr. Bomb
Billy Oatman: What's up Bomb! You know exactly who I was talking about and if you didn't right after I mentioned his name I left the 7-10 split so yes I was talking about Derrick "Black Cat" Williams.
Parkersburg, WV: Billy I watched you at the Bayer Classic and you are great with the fans. Do you have a web site. Fan for life
Billy Oatman: Yes I do. Its http://www.billyoatman.com
St. Marys, Pa.: How many balls do you keep in the arsenal? Does the sponsor pay the bill? Heck with it, tell us about a typical week of competition.
Billy Oatman: I have about 20 balls in my arsenal and to find out about a typical week, read my journals. They are on my website.
Chickasha, Okla.: Billy "O" What kind of pressure are you and the other bowlers under as the season nears its end and the points race tightens up? Also, who is your favorite college football team?
Billy Oatman: The pressure of not knowing you are going to have a guaranteed check is huge. My favorite college football team is Illinois.
Cincinnati, OH: Hey Billy O, You had a great week, what happened the last match against Machuga, I was rooting for you.
Billy Oatman: He beat me.
Scott (Cincinnati, OH): Billy- I think you are hilarious! Did you enjoy the elimination match play format the PBA is using for the majority of their standard events?
Billy Oatman: It has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is you can bowl bad and win but the disadvantage is you can bowl good and lose. I prefer the old format where total pins dictate the show.
Trenton, Michigan: What made you decide at this stage in your career that it was time to get your PBA card and try to make it on tour, at least last year's trials?
Billy Oatman: I turned 40 years old and made a promise to myself that I would get my card and at least give it a shot so I could eliminate the question of whether I could have made it out here.
Sicklerville, New Jersey: What do you think would get more African Americans into bowling ? And if you know, what ever happen to George Branham III?
Billy Oatman: Money. It costs so much just to practice let alone hone your skills to make it out here on the Tour. George Branham is working in Indianapolis and bowls a league or two but not bowling any PBA events.
Detroit, Michigan: This week's tournament is a major, where the winner gets a higher payout and a 3 year exemption instead of one year. Are you more excited or nervous going into the larger events?
Billy Oatman: I'm excited about being here at the U.S. Open but at the same time I am nervous because the conditions are so challenging. But after everything is said and done I am going to have fun. Win or lose.
Danielson CT: Hi Billy. My question is: how much does it cost to be on tour? Is it fun or like a job? Thanks, we really enjoy you on the show. Go Bill!!!
Billy Oatman: It costs about a $1,000 a week if you want to live comfortably. It's fun, very fun, like a new job you like going to.
Comment from Billy Oatman: Thanks for coming out. I enjoyed chatting with you. If you can, go to my website http://www.billyoatman.com and keep in touch. Thank you for your prayers. Peace. And Sundays are for Bowling!
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