Imagine a baseball event that attracted stars of the 1950s such as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Al Kaline.
A bowling version of that brilliance was reflected in the stepladder finals of the PBA50 United Healthcare Sun Bowl at Spanish Springs Lanes in The Villages, Fla., on Tuesday.
PBA50 Tour rookie Norm Duke topped a final five that included Buffalo native Tom Baker, Pete Weber, Parker Bohn III and Walter Ray Williams Jr.,
“I tell you, there were more titles in that final than I can even think about so it makes winning that much more gratifying,” Duke said. “I’ve bowled against these guys on Tour so many times, but it’s still the same – a battle for every game, a battle for every frame.”
Combined these five PBA Hall of Famers own 164 PBA Tour titles, plus another 20 PBA50 Tour titles.
Baker was low man on the PBA Tour titles list with 10. Weber and Duke are tied for third on the all-time list with 37 each. Bohn is sixth with 33. Williams is the all-time leader with 47 titles.
Baker is the leader in PBA50 Tour titles with 10 (fifth-best on the all-time list). Williams has won seven titles as a “senior” player. Weber won two titles in his “rookie” year in 2013.
It was the first PBA50 title for Duke in his second appearance; he finished second to another Hall of Famer, Amleto Monacelli, in his debut a week earlier in New Port Richey, Fla.
Baker topped the qualifying with a 13-3 match-play record and 8,203 pins (counting bonus pins for match play victories) for 32 games.
Bohn defeated Williams, 287-268 in the first step ladder match, then lost to Duke, 255-238.
Duke eliminated Weber, 279-215, before defeating Baker, 256-228 in the title match to collect the $9,000 top prize. Baker’s finish was worth $4,500.
Duke started the title match with the first seven strikes against Baker.
“When the scores are high, the match is never over,” Duke said. “Tom is a great player, so it inspires you to remain focused.
”I think the past two days were the hardest two days I’ve experienced in a tournament in a long time. It was physically demanding and as tough to win as any tournament I’ve ever bowled.”
Kent in Hall of Fame
Doug Kent comes from the Finger Lakes region but bowled often and was a popular figure in Western New York. One of his 10 PBA Tour titles came at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga when he won the 2005-06 GEICO Classic, defeating Duke in the title match.
Kent and four others were inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame on Thursday night in Reno, Nev. The induction dinner was part of the USBC Convention this week.
Kent won two USBC Masters (1991 and 2006) among his four major titles. He defeated Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, 277-230, in the final for his second Masters.
“From junior leagues until now, this has been an incredible ride,” said Kent, who is semiretired from the PBA Tour. “Bowling has been my life for so many years, and it’s so hard to put into words just how special this night really is. I feel like I just won the Masters again, only 10 times better. This is the greatest reward a bowler can ever receive.”
Other inductees were: former Tour pros Steve Cook and Dale Traber, John Gaines, who owns four USBC titles, and the late Woody Woodruff of Long Island, who was elected for Meritorious Service.
• The Greater Buffalo USBC Open and Women’s Championships open Monday night at AMF Lancaster Lanes. The traditional opening ceremonies will be at 6:45 p.m.
Entry totals are up this year. As of Friday, according to Association manager Bill Palumbo, there were 285 teams total (35 in the women’s championship), and 256 doubles entries (53 women’s) entered in the Open.
A field of 287 will start bowling today in the GBUSBC’s Stanley Kowalski Senior Singles Championship at Broadway Sports Center. The Stan will continue Sunday.
• Teata Semiz, remember him? This week at age 80, Semiz came back from a long layoff to bowl in the PBA50 event in The Villages, Fla. He finished 106th in his first senior tour event since 2012.
• Well-known Rochester-area bowler Mike Rose of West Henrietta, teamed with Scott Pohl of Burnsville, Minn., this week to grab the doubles lead in the USBC Open in Reno. They bowled 1,403. Pohl had a 727, Rose a 676. Rose won the USBC Open all-events title in 2007.
• Kevin Donaghue of East Amherst is 40th in regular singles with 725 and 52nd in doubles with 1,286, bowling with his brother Patrick of Honeoye Falls. Kevin shot 605 in doubles.