CHICAGO (Oct. 17, 2019) – Nineteen-time title winner Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina, and former Professional Bowlers Association ownership partners Mike Slade and Rob Glaser have been elected to the PBA Hall of Fame, PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced today.
Jones, one of five PBA players to win both PBA Rookie (2001-02) and Player of the Year (2005-06) honors, has earned more than $1.7 million in his 20-year PBA career. The 41-year-old power player owns 17 standard PBA Tour titles plus two majors: the 2006 U.S. Open and 2007 PBA Tournament of Champions. He has finished in the top 10 in annual PBA Tour earnings nine times and has finished in the top five in 47 of the 326 PBA Tour tournaments he entered, cashing in a remarkable 80.3 percent of those events.
An 11-time member of Team USA, Jones also has been on winning teams in PBA League Elias Cup competition three times and was the recipient of the PBA League Mark Roth Most Valuable Player Award in 2017.
“It’s one of those things I probably wouldn’t have known was coming if I hadn’t seen an article about being on the ballot,” Jones said of his election to the Hall. “It’s a huge honor to be among all of those players who are in the Hall. It’s something you dream about all of your life. It’ll probably hit me when I’m standing up in front of the crowd to accept.”
Defining moments in Jones’ career? “For me, it’s a combination of things. The U.S. Open title was big and being selected No. 30 among the top 50 players in PBA history (in 2009) as the youngest one (age 30) also was pretty cool for me,” Jones said. “The U.S. Open was defining because I bowled so bad the previous year. The Tournament of Champions at Mohegan Sun also was a great win because that’s the one title every PBA member wants to win. It’s really special to be on that list of winners.”
Jones admits his career isn’t over; his ultimate goal is to reach 25 PBA Tour titles and that goal is still alive.
“It’s not unrealistic,” Jones said. “My body is finally healthy again. My back was bad for a while, but now it seems to be good.
“We have a lot more events now, in a lot of different centers, which makes a difference,” he continued. “At this point in my career, there isn’t a whole lot I haven’t seen. One of the reasons this game is so great is that you can never master it. But I figure, with my experience, I may be better prepared than some of the younger guys.”
Slade and Glaser will join their original PBA ownership partner, Chris Peters, in the PBA Hall of Fame. All three were former Microsoft executives who combined resources to purchase the PBA in 2000, pulling the organization back from the brink of bankruptcy, and providing the organization with leadership from their board of directors positions and the financial support to remain viable until its recent sale to Bowlero Corp.
Slade's creativity and contacts at ESPN and with leaders in sports media were key assets in advancing the PBA brand and opening doors with new partners including FOX Sports.
Slade began his career at Microsoft in 1983 and spent seven years there in a variety of product marketing roles. In 1993 he was hired as CEO of Starwave, Paul Allen's trailblazing venture into the Internet and multimedia where he launched ESPN.com, NBA.com, NFL.com, NASCAR.com, ABCNews.com and the Go.com network. He retired as Chairman and CEO of Starwave following its sale to the Walt Disney Corp. in 1998.
Slade then served as a strategic advisor for Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs, and as a strategic consultant for ESPN, NBA.com, NFL.com, Starbucks, Real Networks, Disney, and various Paul Allen companies. In 2000, he co-founded the venture capital firm Second Avenue Partners and he became a co-owner and board member of the PBA.
“It’s a real honor to be elected,” Slade said. “I kind of got involved with the PBA by accident and I wound up being the owner.
“When we left Microsoft, Chris Peters got into bowling instead of golf, and he was really excited about it,” Slade reflected. “Then he found out the PBA was about to go out of business, so he approached Rob and me about buying the Tour. I had a sports background; I was once a sportswriter and the company I was affiliated with at the time was involved with a number of sports.
“I had a lot of experience at the intersection of sports and tech(nology), so I was excited to get involved. When we did the deal with ESPN way back when that was me getting involved.
“We hired good people and we ran the PBA like a real professional sport,” Slade added. “We always felt (the PBA) was going to advance in the sports world, but ultimately it needed a bigger plan, so that’s why the deal with Bowlero made sense.”
Glaser, a New York City native, was the PBA's principal investor financially, largely funding the early 2000's efforts to boost prize funds, regulate TV exposure and further explore arena settings. After a 10-year career in a variety of positions with Microsoft, Glaser founded RealNetworks in 1994, a company that produces RealAudio, RealVideo, RealPlayer, and Helix, among other products and services. A Yale graduate with degrees in Computer Science and Economics, Glaser has been a major donor supporting a wide range of humanitarian causes throughout his career.
“In 1999, my good friend Chris Peters approached me with the opportunity to get involved in what he called “saving the PBA,’” Glaser said. “I was a lifelong bowler and PBA bowling fan, so I happily said yes.
“It’s a true honor (to be elected),” he added. “I have so much respect for the incredible athletes who make up the core of the PBA Hall of Fame. Other than Mike Slade, I am certainly the worst bowler ever elected to the PBA. But the last time I bowled I rolled a 217, so that’s something.”
In addition to the inductions in Arlington on Jan. 18, the PBA also will present the 2019 Chris Schenkel Player of the Year; Harry Golden Rookie of the Year; Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner and PBA Tony Reyes Memorial Community Service Award winner. The winners of those annual awards will be announced later this year.
by FlowBowling staff writer.