PBA Senior standout Bob Glass, former PBA owner Chris Peters and longtime PBA staff member Barb Wilt were inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Tuesday evening at the Marriott Indianapolis North in conjunction with the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions.
Glass was elected in the PBA50 Performance category while Peters and Wilt were recognized in the Meritorious Service category for their extraordinary contributions behind the scenes to advance the PBA.
Glass, one of the first true power players on the PBA50 Tour, competed as a senior between 1997 and 2007 when he won nine titles and finished in the top five 38 times in 78 tournaments, earning just shy of a half-million dollars. He won a pair of majors – the 2000 Brunswick PBA Senior Championship and 2001 United States Bowling Congress Seniors Masters – and earned PBA50 Player of the Year honors in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
“The Senior Tour was an opportunity to do something I always wanted to do,” Glass said. “It has provided a lot of guys like me an opportunity to combine their career with the tremendous experience of bowling competitively at a high level and meeting a lot of wonderful people – I miss both.
“I’m a very analytical person, but through bowling on the Senior Tour I learned the importance of intuition,” he continued during his acceptance speech. “I also learned that there were similarities between bowling on the Senior Tour and my regular job. Success was gained not only through experience but also from the knowledge and what I could learn from young people.”
Glass, 67, who holds a PhD in economics and has a law degree, lives in Lawrence, Kansas, and currently is Chief of Economics and Rates with the Kansas Corporation Commission in nearby Topeka.
Peters, an early employee of Microsoft who later became an executive with the company, led the effort to purchase the PBA with partners and fellow Microsoft executives Mike Slade and Rob Glaser in 2000.
Peters and his partners provided an infusion of capital to ensure a solid foundation for the organization while at the same time providing vision and innovative ideas to enhance the fan experience especially in the areas of event presentation and online coverage. The introduction of a professionally-designed “arena” style set for TV finals, including professional presentation of signage and an overall enhanced image, helped the PBA generate more new non-bowling corporate sponsorships than the PBA had seen in several years.
Peters also introduced Strike Pass, the forerunner of PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame, and the PBA Exempt Tour creating an “elite” tour to better showcase PBA Tour players and provide the Tour’s most successful players with guaranteed opportunities to make a living by including increased prize money for standard events.
“First, I share this honor with Mike and Rob and couldn’t have done it without them,” Peters said. “When the opportunity presented itself (to purchase the PBA) all I could think of was how wasteful it would have been for this prestigious 40-year-old sports organization to just go away. My motivation was to prevent something so valuable from being just tossed away.”
Wilt, who joined the PBA staff in 1970, retired to North Carolina in 2014 after 44 years of service to the organization. Her duties ranged from processing all PBA Tour entries to managing all of the PBA’s statistical records, and virtually every other hands-on office chore over her extensive career.
When the PBA was sold in 2000, the new owners asked Wilt to assist with the transition to the new headquarters in Seattle, so she moved to Seattle and continued to work to make improvements in membership, entries and statistical processes.
“When a 20-year-old walks into the PBA for the first time it’s just a job, but it would become much more than that,” Wilt said. “More than 40 years later this is the last place I imagined I would be.”
Twice during her tenure with PBA, Wilt had left the organization but was asked to return when her replacements didn’t work out.
“I did a job I loved to do, and worked with great people and terrific athletes,” she added. “I’m especially grateful to have had the opportunity to work with (PBA founder) Eddie Elias and all the commissioners who followed him.”
She was the face of the PBA among most of its thousands of members over four-plus decades, providing a familiar and friendly voice to help them with their needs, and she was conduit between PBA’s national and regional tournament directors in bridging the gap between the office and the road. She also became the organization’s unofficial historian and served as a guardian of old records, photographs and historical information.
Also during the ceremony, emcee, Nelson Burton Jr., paid tribute to his fellow Hall of Famer Chuck Pezzano who died Jan. 23 at the age of 86. Pezzano, a PBA charter member and bowling historian was widely recognized as the dean of bowling journalists among many other accomplishments in the sport.