Storm Products Inc. has announced that former Major League Baseball pitcher and two-time All-Star John Burkett has been signed to a staff contract.
The 50-year-old Burkett pitched for the San Francisco Giants, Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox during a 16-year career that began in 1987 and ended with his retirement in 2003 at age 38. He posted a 166-136 record with 1,766 career strikeouts. He was an All-Star with the Giants in 1993 (when he contended for the National League Cy Young Award with a 22-7 record) and in 2001 with the Braves.
His 1996 post-season win with the Rangers in the American League Divisional Series was the first post-season victory in the franchise’s history.
Now, his career as an athlete has entered a new chapter as he begins his professional bowling career in earnest on the PBA50 Tour.
“I’ve been practicing and working out,” Burkett said. “More recently I’ve been working on getting my rev rate back up by changing my grip. I have a tendency to squeeze it and the ball knuckles off my hand, but I’m starting to turn that problem around.”
Burkett, an accomplished bowler for most of his life who now resides in Southlake, Texas, is no stranger to bowling in PBA competition, having competed in a handful of tour events since making his debut in 1990 in Pinole, Calif. He also competed in several regionals along the way, and most recently he took part in the 2014 Oklahoma’s Grand Resort Summer Swing and the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI as part of the process to get ready for PBA50 competition.
Now that he plans to make the commitment to bowl a majority of the PBA50 Tour events this season, Burkett likes his chances of putting together a successful season, although he is hesitant to make any specific goals.
“I have high expectations and I believe in myself, but I’m not kidding myself that it won’t be a work in progress,” said Burkett, who plans to bowl seven or eight stops this year. “For most of the guys, making the right adjustments and ball moves is second nature, where for me it’s going to be more of a continual learning experience.
“Being an athlete and bowling more competitive games on a regular basis should produce some good results,” he added. “What I’m going to have to guard against is getting too anxious and going into panic mode when I get lost. If there’s an area that I really need to concentrate on, that would probably be it.”
Burkett’s introduction to the sport came as a youngster when his first job was setting pins at Wedgewood Lanes, a duckpin center that converted to tenpins, in his hometown of Beaver, Pa. A career as a pro bowler might have been in his future had he not also found he had exceptional skills throwing a baseball at a young age. Now, after a successful baseball career, he can return his sights to his other passion: bowling.
“I’m so excited and blessed to be able to do it,” he said. “I want to bowl and get to know the guys that I’ve admired for so many years. I’m just looking forward to the whole experience.”
Seemingly, the missing piece of the puzzle for Burkett's bowling career was a partnership with a ball manufacturer that enabled his desire to accelerate his craft to be realized. That search has formally come to end as he joins Storm Products’ Regional Staff Team.
“John has been throwing our equipment for some time now with regular success at all levels of competition,” Storm Public Relations Manager Dave Kost said. “But now knowing that he is committed to bowling full-time, we [Storm] felt the timing was a perfect match not only for John, but equally for our brands.”
“J.B. brings a wealth of pride, professionalism and strong character that undoubtedly comes from his playing days,” Kost added. “That, coupled with his passion to grow the sport, makes it a win-win partnership.”