PBA50 Tour standout Pete Couture of Cocoa, Fla., former South Region Manager Harry O’Neale of Ravenel, S.C., and former PBA Tour announcer Denny Schreiner of Akron, Ohio, were inducted into the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame Monday during ceremonies at the Grand Casino Hotel Resort in Shawnee, Okla.
Couture was elected in the PBA50 Performance, category based on his exceptional record for a minimum of 10 years as a “senior” competitor. On the heels of a 24-year career as a PBA Tour competitor, when he won five standard PBA titles, Couture began his PBA50 career in 1995 when he earned PBA50 Rookie of the Year honors. He won the first of nine PBA50 Tour titles in Reno in 1996, and captured a pair of USBC Senior Masters titles in 1998 (when he was selected as PBA50 Player of the Year) and 2002.
“If it wasn’t for the senior tour, I wouldn’t be here,” said Couture. “The senior tour was a second chance and an opportunity to re-invent myself.
“Bowling on the senior tour was like being with family,” he added. “Some of my greatest memories came from bowling on the senior tour. I think everyone who bowls for a living dreams of getting in the hall of fame because there’s no higher honor.”
O’Neale built the PBA South Region tournament program into the organization’s most successful proving ground for aspiring young players over a span of 31 years before his retirement in 2011. A one-time PBA Tour competitor, O’Neale assumed a regional program with fewer than 200 members and built it into a membership of more than 900 members, frequently traveling thousands of miles while conducting more than 40 weekend tournaments a year.
“In all the years I was with PBA, I had so many great people around me to make it work and I couldn’t have done it without them,” O’Neale said. “It’s been a long way but a lot of fun. Over the years I gave away a lot of awards but didn’t get that many myself, so this is a great honor for me.
“I’m very proud of the growth we had in the [PBA’s] South Region,” O’Neale added. “I wanted the bowlers in our part of the country to be proud of our region, and I knew if they were they would keep coming back and bowl in our tournaments.”
Schreiner, who served as the ESPN television voice of the PBA between 1986 and 1995, also was a skilled bowler who joined the PBA media staff as the PBA Tour Broadcast Director shortly after his graduation from the University of Akron. As PBA’s play-by-play announcer on ESPN, he quickly became popular for his ability to apply his knowledge as a bowler to the telecasts, working in harmony with fellow PBA Hall of Famer, Mike Durbin, as his color analyst.
“I grabbed the brass ring when I got the PBA [announcing] job and never let go,” Schreiner said. “To be involved with all the great people who built and worked with PBA over the years, you can’t explain in your wildest dreams what it means to be standing up here.”
Also, as part of the evening’s festivities, Jason Belmonte, Jesper Svensson, Josh Blanchard and Ed Godbout were officially presented with the GEICO Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year, Harry Golden Rookie of the Year, Steve Nagy Sportsmanship and Tony Reyes Community Service Awards, respectively.