A few past Hall of Fame inductees — I’m not going to give out any names — have frozen, or mumbled their words, or forgot to mention his spouse while giving their forehead-sweating speech.
I foresee Tom Baker not being one of them.
Anybody who can throw back-to-back 300 games sure enough can handle a 10-minute speech, right?
Highlighted by his incredible multi-exclamation points’ feat on March 3, 2011 (which also was his daughter Kelli’s birthday), Baker — who has nine career 300 games and two career 800’s — will be inducted into the Western Crawford County Bowling Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 16 at the Italian Civic Club.
Lane Baker and Diane McHenry will also join the elusive club — the former will be featured in an upcoming column, while the latter was last week’s column headliner.
“It feels unbelievable to be recognized with the other incredible bowlers already inducted in the Hall of Fame,” said Tom Baker during an interview recently. “I’ve bowled with many of the greats in the county and I still can’t believe I am included in this elite group of men and women. I would like to thank my uncle Gary Baker for nominating me and for believing I was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame.”
In the National Mixed League at Lakeside Lanes in 2011, Baker — who defines class — joined a select group in WCCBA history with his consecutive perfect games, propelling him to a jaw-dropping and career-high 834 series. The first Cat trivia question of the year: Can you name the other four bowlers who have achieved this mind-blowing feat? The answer is at the bottom of the column.
“I was stuck in the zone the entire night,” said Baker. “I was in pretty good condition then and my legs were strong. Honestly, I just never got real nervous for some reason. And, it was pretty cool that it happened on my daughter’s birthday.”
Baker and McHenry have taken similar paths to the HOF — both receiving positive-minded words from a WCCBA great to get their I-know-I-belong confidence going.
For McHenry, it was Lyle Williams. For Baker, it was Butch Gunsallus.
“I started bowling in the National Mixed League (at Lakeside Lanes) and then I thought about trying another league after I started getting the hang of the finger-tip game,” said Baker. “My neighbor, Butch (Gunsallus), asked me if I would be interested in subbing in the Stewart’s Classic League. The bowlers in that league were all the guys that I had read about in the paper. I told Butch there was no way I could bowl with those guys. I was so intimidated at first, but Butch always reminded me that I was good enough.”
Sounds familiar? Those were Williams’ main words of wisdom to McHenry, too. BTW: Gunsallus and Williams — who, unfortunately, are no longer with us — were best friends.
Baker proved to himself in the once feared Stewart’s Classic League that he belongs with the Grandas and Bairds by throwing a 300 game.
“That was a proud moment,” he said, “It felt good to throw a 300 in front of all of those great bowlers. Now, that was pressure. And, that is when I thought maybe Butch was right.”
As his consecutive 300 games are a strong indication, Baker is pretty much a lock when a perfect game is on the line on his last ball. He is nine-for-10 on his 300-game, last-ball opportunities. His other game was a 299.
“I think I’ve done pretty well in the 10th frame,” he humbly said.
If you ask Baker, his bowling achievements are secondary in his bowling career. No. 1? His kids.
“I’m very proud of my kids (Kelli and Cory),” he said. “I loved going to watch them in their Junior Leagues and seeing them progressively get better. I enjoyed that more than bowling myself.” Note on Cory Baker: He had a stellar youth career at Lakeside Lanes.
Back at you, Tom — your kids are probably extremely proud of your bowling accomplishments, too.
See you on Nov. 16.
McGranahan crushes ‘em
Gary McGranahan might be thinking to himself, “Maybe I should have started bowling at Plaza Lanes years ago.”
Coming off a Commercial League-high 227 average last season in his first year bowling at Plaza Lanes, the Greenville native McGranahan is smashing the PL lumber again.
Fresh off a 750 series a few weeks ago, the right-handed McGranahan nearly shot an 800 series as he fired games of 268, 279 and 245 for an eye-catching 792 series.
Nice set, Gary!
Other high rollers: Lost Lanes punisher Jeff Keener threw games of 228, 258 and 279 for a 765 in the Spa League … Right-hander Tyler Barnes apparently has his sights set on winning his first Cochranton Crusher award. In successive weeks in the Pioneer League, Barnes topped 700 with 726 and 716 totals, respectively … Also, in the Pioneer League, right-hander Chad Robinson nearly shot his second career 300 game, throwing the first 10 strikes for a 287 game, fueling him to a 712 series … Continuing to showcase his sharp-shooting skills at Lakeside Lanes, right-hander Dan Francis — one of Lost Lanes’ top rollers the past several seasons — had another strong showing in the Wednesday Nighters League with games of 253, 246 and 248 for a 747 … Other 7-Up shooters: Brian Nichols (722 in Commercial League), Harry Hanks (714 in Friday Morning League at Lost Lanes), Ken Major (712 in Spa League at Lost Lanes), Jim Keener (705 in Friday Morning League) and Steven King (700 in Commercial League) … This columnist wants to give a “shout-out” to my buddy, Jim Hickernell. The WCCBA Hall of Famer — who continues to work out early every weekday — had one of his highest games in recent years with a 258 and finished with a 621 in the Wednesday Nighters League at Lakeside Lanes. A blast from the past! — Hickernell, Gunsallus and Williams in my column.
Archacki remains red-hot
Nick Archacki apparently wants to go out with a bang.
Continuing his early-season scoring barrage, the three-time Cat’s Young Gun award winner Archacki — in his last year bowling in the local junior leagues — smoked ‘em again at Lakeside Lanes last weekend.
Coming off a 765 series a few weeks ago in the Saturday Juniors League at Lost Lanes, Archacki was nearly as dominant at Lakeside Lanes as the right-hander rolled games of 228, 228 and 263 for a 719.
Nice set, Nick!
Another week, another 600-plus series for the young gun bowling queen, Brookelyn Garvey.
Extending her streak of 600’s to four weeks, Garvey tossed games of 226, 183 and 209 for a 618 in the Junior League at Lakeside Lanes.
Great job, Brookelyn!
You’ve probably had about two or three minutes to think about my trivia question: Who are the other four bowlers in WCCBA history to throw back-to-back 300 games?
The amazing keglers: Walter Hunt (1982 at Pennline Lanes), Doug Tabar (2002 at East Side Lanes), Steve Bailey (2004 at Plaza Lanes) and Mike Almon (2013 at Lakeside Lanes).