If PBA fans watching the live debut of PBA League competition on ESPN Sunday thought Dallas Strikers’ owner Terrell Owens was disinterested, looking at his cell phone through much of the action, they couldn’t be more mistaken. The reality is, Owens was live-tweeting to his more than 1.3 million Twitter followers – and “smack talking” with Silver Lake Atom Splitters owner Chris Hardwick – while the Strikers were racing away from the Atom Splitters, 278-171.
The best tweet of the day came from Chris Hardwick @nerdist: ME - “Well, the Atom Splitters got crushed but it was still fun!” DAD - “Oranges get crushed. This was worse.” #StillLaughing
Following Hardwick’s comments on Twitter were many of his 2-plus million fans. And you can add additional fans who were getting “tweets” from PBAL owners Billie Jean King, Chris Paul, Jesse Williams and Jerome Bettis during the telecast.
In addition, the #LoveTheLanes hashtag on Twitter got great play. All of the PBA League player jerseys are imprinted with the #LoveTheLanes hashtag, which relates to the theme of ESPN’s PBA promotional spots for the 2013 television season.
ESPN also joined the Twitter parade, tweeting a message to its 6 million followers when the show came on the air that it was time to watch the debut of the PBA League.
Twitter fans can follow the PBA at @PBATour.
JEROME BETTIS PERFORMS RARE FEAT WITH PBA LEAGUE CEREMONIAL FIRST BALL
Former Pittsburgh Steelers star running back Jerome Bettis, a life-long bowler with 200-level average skills, performed a rare feat when he joined fellow NFL superstar Terrell Owens in rolling simultaneous ceremonial first balls to launch the PBA League’s debut on ESPN Sunday at Thunderbowl Lanes in suburban Detroit.
Bettis is owner of the PBA League’s Motown Muscle. Owens is owner of the Dallas Strikers.
After both PBA League team owners threw strikes on their practice shots prior to the “official” ceremonial shot (Bettis’ was a solid pocket strike, Owens’ was a cross-over), Bettis got his televised shot too far right and picked the 6-9 out of a full rack of pins for a rarely-seen two-count.
“They took my shot away. They gave me a spare ball,” Bettis groaned in good humor later. “I had nothing, no chance. Lousy lane conditions…”
Owens fared better with his ceremonial shot, knocking down nine pins (he left the 5 pin standing on another cross-cover shot).
THREE WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE PBA LEAGUE TEAM
Now that the PBA League has been launched to a national audience on ESPN, there are three easy ways for fans to show their support for their favorite team:
● On The Ball Bowling has created a line of plastic team spare balls featuring the logo of each team in the PBA League. Order your ball by visiting: http://www.ontheballbowling.com/categories/PBA%20Team%20League%20Balls
● You can wear your own Gemini replica team jersey. Visit: http://www.geminijerseys.com/pba-league/
● You can order PBA League team t-shirts. Visit: https://www.kotisdesign.com/estore/default.asp?estore=pbastore&category=League+T-shirts
BACKHAUL DIRECT PLANS TONY REYES BENEFIT
The Backhaul Direct Hoosier Classic, the largest collegiate bowling tournament in the country with 138 varsity teams and nearly 1,000 athletes expected for the Feb. 15-17 event at Western Bowl in Indianapolis, is going to donate a significant share of its charity funds this year to the family of the late PBA champion, Tony Reyes.
Backhaul Charities, Inc., the 501(c)3 fundraising entity formed by the tournament, normally uses all money raised from its raffle prizes to enhance the tournament prize fund. But this year, in honor of Reyes’ contributions to collegiate bowling (he was a collegiate All-American at San Jose State University in 1993 and 1995), 50 percent of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the TR fund, Backhaul CPO Nick Hoagland has announced.
PBA REGIONAL ROUNDUP
● Bob Learn Jr. of Macomb, Mich. and partner Mike Shady defeated Bob Michalojko of Mars, Pa. and Larry Verble of Mason, Mich., 2-0, in a best-of-three-game match to win the PBA Central Region’s Legend Lanes Over/Under Doubles Classic at Legend Lanes in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Sunday.
Teams in the event included one bowler age 50 or older, and one bowler under the age of 50. The title was Learn’s 27th in PBA Regional competition and Shady’s fourth. They also split a $4,000 first prize.
● PBA regional competition begins to gear up again in February. The Feb. 1-3 weekend includes the PBA Southwest Region’s Del-Mar Lanes Challenge – a non-champions event – in Houston, Texas, while the PBA South Region hosts the BreakPoint Alley non-champions event in Tavares, Fla.
The PBA West Region will conduct the Jackson Rancheria Classic at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., Feb. 8-10 while the PBA Midwest Region hosts a pair of one-day PBA50 events at Elk Grove Bowl in Elk Grove Village, Ill., for Midwest and Central Region players.
The only event on the Feb. 15-17 weekend schedule is the PBA South Region Dave Edwards Toyota PBA50 Open presented by Etonic at Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C. Wrapping up the month will be another pair of one-day PBA50 events for Midwest and Central region players at Beverly Lanes in Arlington Heights, Ill. The Beverly Lanes events, sponsored by Allstate Insurance, will be conducted under the PBA Regional “reduced entry fee” test program.
For complete PBA regional schedule and entry information, visit pba.com and click on “Regional Tours” under the Schedules tab.
● PBA Hall of Famer and long-time historian Chuck Pezzano of Mountainside, N.J., has been moved to the Atrium at Wayne, a rehabilitation center, to recover following surgery to repair a broken hip suffered a week earlier. Pezzano, one of the sport’s most celebrated journalists, is expected to stay at the rehab facility for two to three weeks. Well-wishers are asked to send cards or letters to Pezzano at: Chuck Pezzano, 27 Mountainside Terrace, Clifton, NJ 07013.
● A celebration of the life of Kegel founder and CEO John Davis, who died unexpectedly at age 64 on Jan. 27 of an apparent heart attack, is planned for Saturday at Kegel Training Center, 1951 Longleaf Blvd., Lake Wales, FL 33859. Davis and his company provided lane maintenance assistance and equipment to the PBA for several years. He was one of the sport’s foremost advocates for high standards in competitive bowling.
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 863-734-0200 to help the Kegel staff in its preparations for the Saturday event. The Davis family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum. A special fund has been set up for the John Davis Historical Preservation Memorial: http://www.bowlingmuseum.com.
● Three-time PBA50 titlist Don Sylvia nearly added his name to bowling immortality by bowling an 889 series during a league session Jan. 24 at Spanish Springs Lanes in The Villages, Fla. He bowled 34 consecutive strikes starting the session before leaving a 4 pin on his second ball of the 10th frame of the last game, finishing with 289 and losing his bid for a 900 series.
● ESPN Classic will re-broadcast the finals of the 2012 Alka Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels USBC Masters on Monday, Feb. 4, at 11 p.m. ET and a 2009 PBA King of Bowling episode on Monday, Feb. 11, also at 11 p.m. ET.
● PBA50 members Lennie Boresch Jr. of Kenosha, Wis.; Jeff Richgels of Oregon, Wis., and former PBA president and 1992 Tournament of Champions winner Marc McDowell of Madison were inducted into the Wisconsin Bowling Hall of Fame on Jan. 12 in Fond du Lac, Wis.