CHICAGO – Boston Red Sox centerfielder Mookie Betts, a rising star in major league baseball, has entered the Professional Bowlers Association’s GEICO World Series of Bowling VII which will be held Dec. 7-19 at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.
Betts, who turns 23 on Wednesday, will test his bowling skills against more than 200 of the best players in the world in the multi-event WSOB VII.
During a number of media interviews throughout the 2015 baseball season, Betts discussed his love for bowling, and mentioned during one interview that he would love to participate in Chris Paul’s annual CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational. Those discussions led the PBA to contact Betts and extend an invitation to bowl in the World Series.
Betts is a former standout youth bowler who averages in the plus-200 range. He has bowled a pair of certified 300 games and finished third in the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association state championships individual event as a junior at Nashville Overton High School in 2010, earning Tennessee Boys’ Bowler of the Year honors after setting Tennessee high school records with a 290 game and 827 series.
After winning his first bowling tournament at age 8 – a no-tap Thanksgiving turkey shoot in Murfreesboro, Tenn. – Betts won several other youth tournaments, his mother Diana Benedict noted.
Betts, who also excelled as a basketball player, was drafted by the Red Sox in the fifth round (172nd pick) of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft and signed with Boston, rescinding his commitment to the University of Tennessee. He quickly rose through Boston’s minor league system, earning a promotion to the major leagues in 2014 after reaching base in a stunning 66 consecutive regular season games in the minor leagues. A second baseman at the time, he converted to the outfield when he joined the Red Sox in June 2014, and has evolved into an everyday outfielder with Boston during the 2015 season.
After playing in 52 games with Boston in 2014, Betts played in his first full season in 2015, batting leadoff and posting a .291 batting average with 18 home runs, 77 runs batted in, 92 runs scores and 21 stolen bases in 145 games. During his extraordinary season, he became one of four players in major league history to finish a season with 40-plus doubles, 15-plus home runs and 20-plus steals before the age of 23.
Betts, whose full name is Markus Lynn Betts, is the son of Diana Benedict and Willie Betts, who intentionally gave him a name that reduces to the initials “MLB.” He got the nickname, Mookie, from his parents who were fans of NBA star Mookie Blaylock.
Betts got his introduction to bowling from his mother, an avid bowler in the Nashville area who also was his first Little League Baseball coach.
In Reno, Betts will compete against a field of bowlers representing more than 20 countries. The GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling, the most lucrative event in the sport, includes the PBA Cheetah Championship, PBA Viper Championship, PBA Chameleon Championship and PBA Scorpion Championship – the four qualifying events leading into the PBA World Championship. The finals of all five events will be televised on ESPN, beginning with live coverage of the PBA World Championship on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).
After an official practice session on the four unique lane conditioning patterns on Monday, Dec. 7, Betts will bowl nine qualifying games in each of the respective “animal pattern” tournaments Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If he finishes among the top 25 percent of the field based on those 36 games, he will advance to the PBA World Championship cashers’ round on Saturday, Dec. 12.
All qualifying and match play elimination rounds of the four animal pattern events plus the PBA World Championship match play competition will be covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel, as well as live scoring on pba.com. For Xtra Frame subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.