Sports Icon Billie Jean King Becomes First Woman PBA League Team Celebrity Owner
SEATTLE (JAN. 2, 2013) – Sports icon and World TeamTennis co-founder Billie Jean King (pictured to the left) is the first woman celebrity owner of a Professional Bowlers Association League team.
PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced that King, the winner of 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 championships at Wimbledon, will be the celebrity owner of the New York City WTT KingPins which includes franchise player and PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber, 13-time Tour winner Tommy Jones, 2010-11 Rookie of the Year Scott Norton, two-time Tour winner Jack Jurek, John Szczerbinski and supplemental pick Brad Angelo.
"The model for the Professional Bowlers Association League closely matches the format of World TeamTennis, my core business,” said King. “I am a big believer in the team concept and excited this is definitely not your typical bowling league. It’s new, it’s groundbreaking and it is definitely going to be competitive.”
King joins Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, former Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl champion running back Jerome Bettis, former NFL all-pro receiver Terrell Owens, actor/comedian Kevin Hart, comedian Chris Hardwick, and Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley as celebrity owners in the PBA League which debuts as part of the PBA Detroit Winter Swing Jan. 19-27 at Thunderbowl Lanes in the Detroit suburb of Allen Park, Mich.
“Billie Jean is an icon, a transcendent figure not only in sports history but American history and bringing her competitive spirit, ideals for sport and brilliant mind to our new professional bowling league as a team owner is a very proud moment for everyone at the PBA," said Clark.
"While we know the League will benefit from her presence, the other teams should also be well aware that above all else, she is in this to win it."
ESPN will televise five weeks of PBA League competition beginning Sunday, Jan. 27, plus the PBA League Elias Cup finals in April. The celebrity owners will not compete on the lanes as part of official PBA League competition.
During the first four days of the Detroit Winter Swing, the PBA will conduct a series of open-field tournaments (the Carmen Salvino Classic, Mark Roth Classic, Don Carter Classic and Earl Anthony Players Championship). Those four events will award individual PBA Tour titles and the qualifying scores posted by each PBAL team member will be combined to produce the team qualifying scores for the ESPN telecasts. All PBAL matches on ESPNwill be Baker Format matches, where each team member will bowl two frames in each game.
For a Detroit Winter Swing schedule click on PBA Tour schedule www.pba.com/Tournaments/PBATour/
The new year will mark the 40th anniversary of King’s historic match against Bobby Riggs and the 40th anniversary of her founding of the Women’s Tennis Association. King also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974.
King is also the owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms, one of the professional teams in Mylan World TeamTennis. She co-founded the league, which showcases the best in professional team tennis competition playing an innovative team format based on a concept of gender equity.
In 2009 King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She was the first female athlete to receive that honor which was presented to her at the White House by President Barack Obama. In 1990 Life Magazine named her one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century."
Currently she serves on the boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The list of PBA League team rosters with celebrity owners is as follows:
Dallas Strikers (owner Terrell Owens)
1. Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla.
2, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla.
3, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela.
4, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore.
5, Mike Machuga, Erie, Pa.
Supplemental pick: Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind.
Philadelphia Hitmen (owner Kevin Hart)
1, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.
2, Mika Koivuniemi, Finland.
3, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio.
4, Mike DeVaney, Hemet, Calif.
5, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C.
Supplemental pick: Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas.
Motown Muscle (owner Jerome Bettis)
1, Mike Fagan, Dallas.
2, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich.
3, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas.
4, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind.
5, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill.
Supplemental pick: Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J.
Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits (owner LaMarr Woodley)
1, Osku Palermaa, Finland.
2, Martin Larsen, Sweden.
3, Dan MacLelland, Canada.
4, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
5, Thomas Larsen, Denmark.
Supplemental pick: Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill.
L.A. X (owner Chris Paul)
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia.
2, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas.
3, Andres Gomez, Colombia.
4, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J.
5, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev.
Supplemental pick: Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela.
Silver Lake Atom Splitters (owner Chris Hardwick)
1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas.
2, Dom Barrett, England.
3, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz.
4, Stuart Williams, England.
5, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan.
Supplemental pick: Jon VanHees, Charlestown, R.I.
New York City WTT KingPins (owner Billie Jean King)
1, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.
2, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C.
3, Scott Norton, Costa Mesa, Calif.
4, Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y.
5, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y.
Supplemental pick: Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y.
Team name, owner to be announced
1, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill.
2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y.
3, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y.
4, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla.
5, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga.
Supplemental pick: Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa.
About the PBA
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is an organization of more than 3,200 of the best bowlers from 17 countries who compete in PBA Tour, PBA International Tour, PBA Regional and PBA50 Tour events. Nearly one million ESPN viewers watch PBA Tour on Sundays during the tour season and thousands around the world watch PBA activities on Xtra Frame, the PBA’s exclusive video streaming service. PBA sponsors include Alka Seltzer Plus, Bayer, Brunswick, Ebonite International, GEICO, Jack Link’s, MOTIV, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to www.pba.com.
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Photo: Jonathan Exley