Comedian, actor, podcast entrepreneur and accomplished bowler Chris Hardwick has become the newest owner of a team in the new Professional Bowlers Association League.
Hardwick is the owner of the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters team which features franchise player 2007-08 Player of the Year and 14-time PBA Tour titlist Chris Barnes, Nathan Bohr, British stars Dom Barrett and Stuart Williams, and 2011-12 PBA Rookie of the Year Josh Blanchard.
PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced today that Hardwick, the son of PBA Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick, joins Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, former Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, former NFL all-pro receiver Terrell Owens, actor/comedian Kevin Hart and all-pro Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley as owners in the PBA League which debuts as part of the PBA Detroit Winter Swing Jan. 19-27 at Thunderbowl Lanes in the Detroit suburb of Allen Park, Mich.
In 2010 Hardwick created one of the Internet’s most popular comedy podcasts called The Nerdist. The hour-long podcasts include conversations and interviews with notable comedians and entertainers, such as Tom Hanks, Mel Brooks, Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon. Hardwick started "All Star Celebrity Bowling" on The Nerdist YouTube channel (youtube.com/nerdist), a team charity bowling match where he and three Nerdist employees take on teams of celebrities such as the casts of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Mythbusters and team Conan.
The success of The Nerdist spawned Nerdist Industries which includes Nerdist.com, premier YouTube channel youtube.com/nerdist, and Nerdist Daily News e-newsletter among other properties.
“Bowling means the world to me. I grew up on the Professional Bowlers Tour and have been around bowling my entire life thanks to my dad,” said Hardwick, who also has more than 1.7 million followers on Twitter. “I was actually named after Chris Schenkel! As a 190-200 average bowler, I would never make it on the Tour so the next best thing for me is to acquire a team so I can live vicariously through their accomplishments--kind of like an annoying stagemom.
“Since bowling is the purest demonstration of Newtonian Physics, I wanted a science-y team name so I went with "Atom Splitters.” Of course, splits are no good to a bowler, but I think the name refers more to the fact that Chris Barnes and Co. are so accurate on the lanes, that the precision of their shots could split any single atom of their choosing. It is very exciting to me that almost all of the other teams are owned by professional athletes who are about to feel the searing sting of getting their asses handed to them by a nerd. ALEA IATCA EST."
Hardwick’s other credits include hosting AMC network’s highly-rated Talking Dead, and an hour-long stand-up comedy special called "Mandroid" that premiered in 2012 on Comedy Central. He previously hosted Singled Out on MTV and Web Soup for the G4 Network.
Hardwick is also getting a full season at BBC America. The Nerdist (named after his popular podcast and website), has expanded from numerous pop-culture specials to a 10-episode season that will kick off in spring 2013 as part of the cable network's "Supernatural Saturday" programming block.
"Chris Hardwick has the perfect DNA to become an owner in the PBA League and we couldn't be more excited about the partnership,” said Clark. “His father is a legend on the lanes and Chris is not only a great promoter of bowling already with his All-Star Celebrity Bowling show on his web site but brings legions of fans from his ever-expanding kingdom to the PBA."
Hardwick will compete in the Chris Paul PBA League All-Stars event which will take place on Jan. 7 at Lucky Strike LA Live in Los Angeles. The tournament, which benefits CP3 charities will air on ESPN Super Bowl Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
The eight teams that will make up the PBA League were determined through a draft that was conducted during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling in November.
ESPN will televise five weeks of PBA League competition beginning Sunday, Jan. 27, plus the PBA League Elias Cup finals in April. The celebrity owners will not compete on the lanes as part of official PBA League competition.
During the first four days of the Detroit Winter Swing, the PBA will conduct a series of open-field tournaments (the Carmen Salvino Classic, Mark Roth Classic, Don Carter Classic and Earl Anthony Players Championship). Those four events will award individual PBA Tour titles and the qualifying scores posted by each PBAL team member will be combined to produce the team qualifying scores for the ESPN telecasts. All PBA League matches on ESPN will be Baker Format matches, where each team member will bowl two frames in each game.
For a Detroit Winter Swing schedule click on PBA Tour schedule. Preliminary rounds of the Winter Swing will also be streamed live on bowling’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame.
PBA will announce the last two owners of the PBA League shortly after the first of the year.
The current list of PBA League team rosters with owners is as follows:
Dallas Strikers (owner Terrell Owens)
1. Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla.
2, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla.
3, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela.
4, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore.
5, Mike Machuga, Erie, Pa.
Supplemental pick: Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind.
Philadelphia Hitmen (owner Kevin Hart)
1, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.
2, Mika Koivuniemi, Finland.
3, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio.
4, Mike DeVaney, Hemet, Calif.
5, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C.
Supplemental pick: Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas.
Motown Muscle (owner Jerome Bettis)
1, Mike Fagan, Dallas.
2, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich.
3, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas.
4, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind.
5, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill.
Supplemental pick: Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J.
Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits (owner LaMarr Woodley)
1, Osku Palermaa, Finland.
2, Martin Larsen, Sweden.
3, Dan MacLelland, Canada.
4, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
5, Thomas Larsen, Denmark.
Supplemental pick: Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill.
L.A. X (owner Chris Paul)
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia.
2, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas.
3, Andres Gomez, Colombia.
4, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J.
5, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev.
Supplemental pick: Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela.
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (owner Chris Hardwick)
1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas.
2, Dom Barrett, England.
3, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz.
4, Stuart Williams, England.
5, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan.
Supplemental pick: Jon VanHees, Charlestown, R.I.
Team name, owner to be announced
1, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.
2, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C.
3, Scott Norton, Costa Mesa, Calif.
4, Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y.
5, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y.
Supplemental pick: Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y.
Team name, owner to be announced
1, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill.
2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y.
3, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y.
4, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla.
5, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga.
Supplemental pick: Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa.