The room was full of Hall of Fame members _ Philip Wallbaum Jr., Dave O'Brien, Dick Baker, Floyd Bedell, Steve Hobelmann, Dr. Edward Minor and Don Hamilton _ and Bob Atheney Jr. representing his late father Bob.
That the room was full at BanquetMasters in Seminole last Saturday was a testimonial not only to the celebrities, but to the fact the St. Petersburg Bowling Association is finally getting some measure of respect.
"Never happened before," said O'Brien as several more tables were set to accommodate the unexpected overflow of members, award winners, their wives and friends. "Maybe we're finally getting somewhere," O'Brien concluded with a smile.
Perhaps it is a small reward for the efforts of dedicated men and women (O'Brien's wife, Carol, is on the board of the men's association). Perhaps it was the public relations award from ABC for community service, one of many accomplishments of outgoing president Bill Zuben. Perhaps it was the presence of ABC regional representative Paul Boller, who rarely misses one of these affairs and updates everyone on ABC doings.
Whatever the reasons, membership and interest are on the upswing for the 61-year-old association, which has seen 34 past presidents, 39 Hall of Fame inductees and current membership of 4,815.
"We can still use more members and we need higher participation in our city tournaments," said new president John Hahman. "It seems the most frequent excuse for not attending is, "Gee, I didn't know a thing about it.' We hope to change that next year."
A possible Budweiser sponsorship and more intensive public relations are in the works.
City tournament participation was the only downer on a night when the association, its officers, delegates and guests celebrated its accomplishments and elected new folks to continue the progress.
Hahman won the president's post over Ron Paige, a mover and shaker in the youth bowling ranks. W. Ole Olson was elected first vice president; Carol O'Brien, second vice president, the first woman on the association's board; George Lintner, third vice president, and Harvey Schultz, fourth vice president. Carol O'Brien also was voted director of the year.
Bill Walker was re-elected sergeant at arms, and two new directors, Jerry Vann and Dennis Coatney, joined incumbent directors Dick Baker and J.C. Smith. Dave O'Brien, an 18-year member of the association, was re-elected executive director, a post formerly called secretary-treasurer.
Highlights of the evening, however, were the induction of Zuben to the Hall of Fame and presentation of the newly created Bob Atheney Service Awards.
Zuben, a former PBA competitor and Team USA winner, became the first ever honored in both the meritorious service and performance categories. Zuben has three 300 games and three 800 series and averaged better than 200 for the past 10 seasons. He is the Team USA regional representative and a YABA coach. This year, Zuben was responsible for running a satellite high school tournament for teams shut out of the regular state event.
Past president Floyd Bedell, YABA director Joe Minarik and Dave O'Brien received the Atheney Awards, presented by Bob Jr. His father was the association's popular secretary for five years before his death in 1994. Bedell has served the association since 1987, Minarik since 1985, and O'Brien since 1980. Minarik is director of the Greater Pinellas YABA.
ABC TOURNAMENT UPDATE: Kissimmee's Randy Whitehead became the first Floridian to crack the top 10 in any division, firing a 777 singles series to move into fourth last week at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. He rolled games of 242, 299 and 236 that included 24 strikes. Division leaders remained the same.
WIBC UPDATE: Regal Tire of Jackson, Mich., took over the Classic Division team lead last week in the WIBC Championship Tournament at the Quad Cities with a 2,728 pinfall. Balls 'R Us of Irving, Texas, grabbed the Division I team lead with a 2,623, and Judy Stanczyk of Lincoln, Neb., is the new singles leader at 660.
Sandy Anderson and Kelly Racine of Elton, Md., are the new Division II doubles leaders at 1,126. The Die Hards of Harvard, Ill., moved into the lead in Division III teams with a 2,344,and Barbara Polkinghorn of Bellevue, Wash., is the new singles leader with a 571 series. (See leaders below).
FRANCIS A WINNER: Nick Francis beat Scott Starkey 204-186 to win the Style Master 300 handicap title and $2,000 Sunday at Shore Lanes. Both are from Clearwater.
Tom Daugherty of Wesley Chapel defeated Dunedin's Bob Belmont 237-226 to win the scratch title and $1,000. Francis finished third and earned another $250. Bradenton's Mike Byrd and LeRoy Waters captured the doubles title and split $1,000.
The Style Master 300 visits Tampa's AMF University Lanes on May 8-9 and Sunshine Bowl in Pinellas Park May 15-16 for a two-weekend event. Entry fees are $20 for the handicap singles with $2,000 to the winner, and $25 for the scratch singles and $15 for the handicap doubles, both paying $1,000 to the winners.
DENNIS SCORES: St. Petersburg's Scott Dennis won his third NABI tournament and $550 Sunday with a 244-140 victory over Clearwater's Ted Tischhauser at Largo Lanes. Judy Allen of Pinellas Park finished third, Holiday's Rick Caruth was fourth, and Tampa's Bill Hill finished fifth.
AMF Kenneth City Lanes will host the NABI event this weekend, starting with qualifying rounds Saturday at 2:30 p.m.