Web Special / March 4, 2007

Ballard's Hall of Fame exclusion mystifying

The greatest honor than can be bestowed on any bowler is induction into a Hall of Fame.

How can a bowling Hall of Fame be best described? A Hall of Fame is like a Pulitzer Prize; the ultimate recognition of an individual’s contribution. A hall of fame is a sanctuary dedicated to specialists in their chosen professions.

Our country doesn’t want for bowling halls of fame. There are city, state, and county halls of fame, all honoring individuals who have contributed, in one way or another, to better the game. However, the ultimate bowling honor is induction into the USBC Hall of Fame (formerly the ABC and WIBC Halls of Fame).

How are worthy nominees selected? Presently, USBC Hall of Fame nominees are selected in three categories. Two of them are in the performance category; professional and amateur and the third in meritorious service.

In the performance category, the records and history books simplify the process. The facts and figures ease the task of separating the superstars from the less talented. Performance charts work wonders for the voters. Figures just don’t lie.

However, the Meritorious Service category offers different challenges to the voter; greater degrees of concentration, study, and soul-searching. Unfortunately, in both the Performance and Meritorious Service cases, the popularity factor occasionally rears its ugly head.

I am, and have always been, a strong supporter of the USBC Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, prior to the unification of the ABC/WIBC organizations, I served several terms as a member of the ABC Hall of Fame Committee, a position of honor that I cherished and took very seriously.

Now, for the second time in two years, I am mystified and confounded by the non-selection of Del Ballard Jr. to the USBC Hall of Fame. This is, in no way, a reflection on the Hall of Fame Committee. The committee again nominated Ballard and sent ballots to all eligible voters; yet Ballard failed to accumulate the necessary percentage for induction. Ordinarily, I do refrain from commenting or criticizing voters for their decisions or choices. However, I can’t imagine anyone voter associated with bowling overlooking Del Ballard Jr.’s outstanding record, both in ABC and PBA competition.

I might have understood any voter by-passing Ballard for immoral or unprofessional behavior. For example, in the recent Baseball Hall of Fame voting, Cal Ripkin Jr. and Tony Gwinn were shoo-ins, despite the fact that a few irresponsible numbskulls failed to recognize their worthiness. Not too surprising though, over two thirds of the baseball writers declined to cast a vote for Mark McGuire…and understandingly so. McGuire’s refusal to answer questions regarding the use of steroids made many writers wary and questionable of his worthiness to the sacred shrine…. at least for the time being.

But, for the life of me, I cannot imagine any writer not voting for Del Ballard Jr. Have they checked his record? Has Ballard ever acted unprofessionally? Has he ever been accused of alcohol abuse, misbehavior, drugs, or anything detrimental to the sport? How can any responsible voter overlook Ballard’s bowling feats; achievements that far surpass a majority of ABC Hall of Fame members.

For those who have neglected to cast their ballots for Mr. Ballard, his record includes four major titles. In most sports, players are gauged by their performances in major events. Many PBA and USBC Hall of Famers have never won a major. The immortal Dick Weber only won four majors. As a matter of fact, Ballard has won more majors than 90 percent of all male PBA and ABC/USBC Hall of Famers, including such superstars as Ray Bluth, Nelson Burton Jr., Don Johnson, Dick Ritger, Mark Roth, Carmen Salvino, Brian Voss, Wayne Webb, Norm Duke, Dick Hoover, Bill Lillard, Ed Lubanski, and Andy Varipapa.

Ballard’s four major titles alone would suffice as Hall of Fame credentials but his overall PBA and ABC record are further testimony for his worthiness. The following are Ballard’s four major titles:

Ballard’s performances in ABC Masters competition is nothing short of remarkable. Besides winning the ABC 1988 Masters title, where he averaged 219 for 25 games, he placed second in 1986, averaging 211 for 26 games, and finished fifth in 1989, averaging 232 for 28 games. His average for 142 games in match play is 216.

In addition to his four majors, Ballard has annexed 12 PBA titles (which does not include the Masters). He has over $1.2 million in career earnings.

For the record, I’d like to unashamedly state… if Ballard isn’t worthy of being an USBC Hall of Fame inductee, then nobody is!