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This is a hall of fame year for Tom Baker.

First came his selection to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Now, the Professional Bowlers Association has called.

Baker will be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in the Veterans/Senior category even though he is a regular on the main tour and won't be eligible for seniors competition for another five years. He will be 45 on Sept. 12.

Disappointed that he has been bypassed in the Performance category, the Buffalo Riverside-Black Rock native said: "It's confusing. My record (nine national tour victories, more than $1.1 million in earnings) speaks for itself."

The PBA explains that any bowler who has been listed on the Performance ballot but is not elected, becomes eligible for the Veterans/Senior ballot seven years after having been listed on the Performance ballot.

Baker was named on 94 percent of this year's Veterans/Senior ballots that also included John Handegard, Butch Gearhart, Billy Golebiewski and Les Schissler.

A pro since 1976 and tour regular since '77, Baker won his first national title in 1980, earned three titles in '81 and added three championships through 1986 before battling wrist injuries that kept him out of the winner's circle for 10 years.

"When I came back from my broken hand I couldn't throw the ball like I did before. Before, I had all the confidence in the world I would make it (to the hall of fame). But here I am 23 years later still doing it."

Baker, inducted into the Buffalo Bowling Association Hall of Fame last year, has earned just over $23,000 in 17 events this year, cashing in seven and averaging 217.9. Last week he was in Amsterdam, Netherlands, for a series of exhibitions and clinics. Next week he travels to Japan for the PBA's annual Japan Cup, an invitational event for 16 selected pros. Baker replaces Amleto Monacelli, who withdrew due to a family emergency.

The PBA's fall tour begins with the Oct. 2-6 ACDelco Classic in Virginia Beach, Va., and will be in Canandaigua Oct. 16-20.

One of just 18 PBA millionaires, Baker will be inducted to the hall in ceremonies during the Brunswick World Tournament of Champions in November.

He said his election "is interesting to me because I'm bowling in a different way. It's exciting and I'm proud because I worked around a problem. I don't have the same release. (On the tour) they call me "Spin Biscuit."

"Even though my game has changed, I've stayed strong in my mind. I've been able to overcome my injuries and fight through it."

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