Cal Bowl, Lakewood, CA, Mar 5-9, 1996

Baker Cooks Up First Win In 10 Years

Tom Baker knew he still had what it takes to win on the PBA Tour-he just had to show everyone else.

The 41-year-old veteran from Buffalo N.Y., put all the doubts about his game to rest as he fell just short of perfection by winning the 15th annual $270,000 ACDelco Classic at Cal Bowl, Lakewood, Calif.

Baker, who finished match play with a 268 game to take the tournament lead, defeated Bob Learn Jr. in the title match, 278-247, to earn his eighth title and $48,000. Baker thrilled the capacity crowd by taking a perfect game into the 10th frame, but a solid 10-pin on his first ball cost him a chance at a $100,000 bonus. The win was the first for Baker since November of 1986.

"I started thinking about it (shooting 300) around the eighth frame," said Baker. "The most important thing for me was winning. I threw a really good shot in the 10th, but what can you do?"Learn Erie Pa, bowled a pretty good game himself. He struck in every frame except the second, fifth, sixth and on his final ball in the 10th. The two-time champion never got less than nine on his first shot and made all his spares, but was forced to settle for the second-place check worth $25,000. It was the second consecutive year that Learn has finished second at the ACDelco Classic.

Learn, the third seed, advanced to the title match with close victories in both match two and the semifinal match of the telecast. He escaped with a 247-246 win over Jim Johnson Jr. in match two and then defeated David Ozio in the semifinal, 211-204. Both matches went down to the 10th frame. The opening match saw Johnson defeat Bob Benoit, 244-211.

Ozio, Vidor, Texas, collected $15,000 for third. Johnson, Wilmington, Del., took home $10,000 for fourth and Benoit, Topeka, Kan., received $8,500 for fifth.

For Baker, the win came at the end of along road filled with some doubt and a loss of confidence.

"Just making the telecast was a big boost for my confidence," said Baker. "Mentally I knew I could still win and I have plenty of TV experience, so nerves weren't a big concern. Sometimes you wonder if everything will ever fall Into place again."


Pos.Name, City/StateTotalAmount
1Tom Baker, Buffalo, NY278 (1 game)$48,000
2Bob Learn Jr., Erie, PA705 (3 games)25,000
3David Ozio, Vidor. TX204 (1 game)15,000
4Jim Johnson Jr., Wilmington, DE490 (2 games)10,000
5Bob Benoit, Topeka, KS211 (1 game)8,500

PLAYOFF RESULTS: Johnson defeated Benoit, 244-211; Learn defeated Johnson, 247-246; Learn defeated Ozio, 211-204; and in the championship game, Baker defeated Learn, 278-247.


 Name, CityPinsAvg  WLT+TotAmt
1Tom Baker, Buffalo, NY 9451 225.0 15-9-0 450 9901 
2David Ozio, Vidor, TX 9404 223.9 16-7-1 495 9899 
#3Bob Learn Jr., Erie, PA 9401 223.8 14-9-1 435 9836 
4Bob Benoit, Topeka, KS 9333 222.2 14-10-0 420 9753 
5Jim Johnson JW Wilmington, DE 9278 220.9 15-9-0 450 9728 
6David Traber, Woodstock, IL 9192 218.9 15-9-0 450 9642 $7,500
7Mike Miller, Albuquerque NM 9168 218.3 15-9-0 450 9618 6,500
8Brian LeClair, Hudson, NY 9206 219.2 13-11-0 390 9596 5,750
 Walter Ray Williams Jr., Stockton, CA 9281 220.9 10-13-1 315 9596 5,750
10Doug Kent, Canandaigua, NY 9150 218.1 13-11-0 390 9550 5,000
11Ron Williams, Fort Worth, TX 9166 218.2 12-12-0 360 9526 4,600
12Bob Belmont, Dunedin, FL 9010 214.5 13-11-0 390 9400 4,200
13John Gant, Winston-Salem, NC 8997 214.2 13-11-0 390 9387 4,000
14Don Sylvia, Vero Beach, FL 9037 215.2 11-13-0 330 9367 3,800
#15Ryan Shafer, Elmira, NY 9020 214.8 10-14-0 300 9320 3,600
16Danny Wiseman, Baltimore 8982 213.9 11-13-0 330 9312 3,500
17Jeff Morin, Rockaway, NJ 8953 213.2 11-13-0 330 9283 3,400
18Bob Vespi, Coral Springs, FL 9005 214.4 9-15-0 270 9275 3,300
19Doug Kempt, Temple City, CA 8819 209.9 12-12-0 360 9179 3,200
20Mike Taylor, San Diego 8851 210.7 10-13-1 315 9166 3,100
21Robby Porter Augusta, KS 8916 212.3 8-16-0 240 9156 3,000
22Jess Stayrook, Tempe, AZ 8907 212.1 8-16-0 240 9147 2,900
23Andy Neuer, Milton, PA 8770 208.8 12-12-0 360 9130 2,800
24Norman Titus, Flemington, NJ 8634 205.6 6-18-0 180 8814 2,750


Pos.Name, City/StateAmount
*25Philip Ringener, Big Spring, TX$2,350
26Dave Wodka, Las Vegas2,150
27Dave Husted, Milwaukie, OR2,120
#28Steve Wilson, Tamarac, FL2,100
29Justin Hromek, Andover, KS2,063
 Jeff Lizzi, Sandusky, OH2,063
 Ed Richardson, Corpus Christi, TX2,063
32Brian Himmler, Cincinnati2,040
33Pete Weber, St. Ann, MO2,030
34Mark Bowers, Aberdeen. MD2,015
 Dennis Jacques, Brooklyn, NY2,015
36Ron Palombi Jr., Erie, PA1,995
 Bill Swanson, Grand Rapids, MI1,995
38Mike Edwards, Oklahoma City1,980
39Bruce Leone, Canoga Park, CA1,970
40Mile Aulby, Indianapolis1,960
41Stoney Baker, Alpharetta, GA1,935
 Hugh Miller, Seattle1,935
 Billy Orlikowski, Grand Rapids, MI1,935
 Butch Soper, Lake Havasu City, AZ1,935
45Brett Sterley, Springfield, MO1,910
46Mark Williams, Beaumont, TX1,900
47Jeff Hickenbottom, Thousand Oaks, CA1,890
48Mike Shoemaker, San Antonio1,880
49Don Best Jr., Cantonment, FL1,870
t50Steve Schroeder, Vista, CA1,860
51Eric Forkel, Tucson, AZ1,850
52Darren Wong, San Jose. CA1,840
53Eugene McCune, Munster, IN1,830

*-Match play alternate. 18-game qualifying leader-Tom Baker, 4123. 24th place-Doug Kempt, 3898. 53rd place-Eugene McCune 3812. #-Ryan Shafer, Bob Learn Jr., Alan Frederick, Michael Haugen Jr. and Steve Wilson rolled 300 games ($300 each). PRO-AM CASHERS-Tony Rosamilia, Michael Karch, Tommy Delutz Jr., Don Moser, Henry Gonzalez and Phil Ringener ($50 each). t-Non-PBA member.