Norm Duke, Del Ballard Jr. and John Handegard join bowling’s elite as each player will be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame during the PBA 50th Anniversary Gala at Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. on January 24, 2009. The induction marks the first time since 2000 that the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour will add new inductees into the Performance Category of the PBA Hall of Fame.
Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla. currently owns 30 career PBA Tour titles, including six career Majors, recently becoming the first player in PBA history to win three consecutive Majors as he captured the PBA World Championships in Wichita, Kan. earlier this season. Duke started his career on the right path becoming the youngest player in PBA history to win a PBA Tour title at the young age of 18, when he captured the 1983 Cleveland Open. Duke, who is a two-time PBA Player of the Year (1994, 2000), also has been in the top 20 of both earnings and average every year since 1991, winning the George Young High Average Award four times (1991, 1994, '2005-06, '2006-07). Duke is currently sixth on the all-time TV appearances list with 100 singles appearances and ranks fourth on the all-time career money leaders list.
“To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, it’s a requirement that you be a top notch bowler for a number of years,” Duke said. “In my mind I look back at all the years that I struggled in my career and it was a learning process … that’s really what I’m getting credit for.”
“This induction is so special,” Duke added. “About 30 years ago I was bowling as a teen with Del Ballard Jr. and to be inducted alongside him is really something special. It will be something I will never forget.”
Del Ballard Jr. of Keller, Texas has 13 career PBA Tour titles to his credit, including four Majors. With Ballard’s career earnings totaling $1,300,357, he became the 11th PBA player to hit the $1 million mark during the 1994 season. Ballard won the prestigious U.S. Open two times (in 1987 and ‘93) and his four career Major victories puts him tied for seventh on the all-time PBA Majors list.
“I’m extremely excited but out of respect for a couple other guys that I feel also deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, I’m trying to be humble about it,” Ballard Jr. said. “It’s been a long road as I’ve been nominated before and I was disappointed when I didn’t make it in the first time. But I’m glad that I’m going in with Norm. He and I have a long history together, we both came up together in Texas, went to the same PBA school in Denver, roomed together and known each other a long time.”
John Handegard marks the first player to be inducted in the PBA Senior Hall of Fame. Handegard is the PBA Senior Tour’s all-time titlist with 14 career PBA Senior Tour titles, including one Major title. A three-time PBA Senior Player of the Year (1991, '95, '96), Handegard also made PBA history by becoming the oldest PBA Tour Champion at age 57, capturing the 1995 Northwest Classic in Kennewick, Wash., defeating Mark Williams 278-247 for the title.
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the PBA Tour, the PBA created a new Hall of Fame induction process to honor its greatest players of both past and present. The most notable changes to the process include that a bowler now may also become eligible for selection to the Hall of Fame on the basis of five PBA Tour Titles, if two of those titles were Major championships and 20 years of PBA membership, rather than retirement from the Tour for five years.
The PBA also unveiled a new Senior Tour division to the Hall of Fame to honor those players whose rise to greatness took place after they moved on to the PBA Senior Tour. The criteria for the PBA Senior Hall of Fame are as follows: a minimum of eight PBA Senior Tour titles or a minimum of five PBA Senior Tour titles including two Majors with a minimum of 10 years membership in the PBA.
With these changes, 12 bowlers became eligible for induction. The eligible inductees were voted on by a 65 person committee comprised of the PBA Hall of Fame Board, current Hall of Fame members and selected media representatives, ultimately selecting three inductees for 2009. A two-thirds vote was required for induction.