Ballard back on tour

by Bob Johnson 0

Del Ballard Jr., a 13-time titlist and PBA Hall of Fame member, is back on the PBA Tour.

Only this time, he’s not bowling. He has been contracted by Ebonite International to represent the company’s four bowling ball brands — Ebonite, Hammer, Columbia 300 and Track — during the final four tournaments of the tour’s 2009-10 season.

Ballard has been in Columbus, Ohio, this week for the Etonic Don Johnson Eliminator. From there, he’ll move on to Norwich, Conn., for the Go RVing Match Play Championship; West Babylon, N.Y., for the GEICO Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship; and Baltimore for the Lumber Liquidators Marathon Open.

Ballard was one of the United States Bowling Congress employees who was laid off recently as a result of USBC’s budget crunch.

On tour, he’ll serve in a number of roles for Ebonite’s staff players: coach, mentor, psychologist, company representative and salesman. When wearing the latter hat, he encourages players who are not signed to a ball company contract to give Ebonite-manufactured equipment a try.

It’s not the first time that Ballard has hit the road for Ebonite. He was the company tour rep from 1998 to 2001.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.