1994 – Meritorious Service
Joseph R. Antenora
Webster defines meritorious as “deserving praise or reward”. When Joseph R. Antenora was born, little did his parents know that their son was destined for greater things. Much of the PBA is today is due to his guardianship of their son, Joe. He joined the PBA in 1965 as Director of Operations. Moving up the PBA ladder quickly, he was named Executive secretary in 1970, and then placed in complete operational charge of the organization two years later. In 1977, Antenora was named the first Commissioner of the PBA, a position he held until he retired.
Under Joe’s direction, the membership in the PBA grew from 700 in 1970 to 3,600 in 1991. And perhaps more important, the prize money grew from $1,6 million in 1970 to $7 million in 1992. Regional tournaments had grown from almost nothing in to 150 in 1992. In addition, the PBA now has a Members School for all perspective players, as well as an expanded PBA merchandising operation.
As with any position with responsibility attached, not all the happenings in the PBA were sunlight and roses. Joe was not especially pleased to be at the center of disciplinary action against two players, nor did he back down from a former Akron resident when he refused to attend Members School and thus couldn’t compete on the Seniors Tour. Rules are rules, and Joe made sure they were followed.
In the late 1980’s two anit-trust lawsuits were settled for the PBA. One involved a dissendent players group, and the other was a suit by a company a seeking to put advertising on its bowling balls t be used at PBA events. Even though they were settled favorably, it bothered Joe. Reminiscing, he said “A lot of effort, stress, pressure and work went into these suits; a lot of it by me. The worst part about it was that it was not a productive way to spend time.”
When asked his fondest memory of the job itself, Joe said “I love sports, and to be able to say I spent a good part of my adult life involved in professional sports gives me great satisfaction. I was able to make my living and support my family that way. It will be difficult to be away from things. I am used to the pressure, the decision making. But I’m ready to step back now.”
Over the years, Joe was received the Metropolitan New York Bowling Writer’s Meritorious Service Award, the BPAO Service Medal, the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame meritorious Service Award, the Andy Palich Memorial Award, and induction in the PBA Hall of Fame. It is fitting that he honored tonight in his home state for Meritorious Service.