Professional Bowlers Association champion Mika Koivuniemi of Finland has been elected to the PBA Hall of Fame, PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark announced October 1st.
The 2019 PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held on Saturday, Jan. 5, at the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas, as part of the PBA Hall of Fame Classic tournament that will be contested at the International Research and Training Center Jan. 2-6. The finals of the first tournament on the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season will be televised live on FS1 on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 11 a.m. EST.
Koivuniemi, one of the most successful international players in PBA history, was elected by an elite panel of veteran bowling writers, industry leaders and PBA Hall of Famers in the Superior Performance category.
Koivuniemi, who now resides in the United Arab Emirates where he is coaching the UAE national bowling team, is a 14-time PBA Tour champion who earned his nickname – Major Mika – after winning two majors before he won his first “standard” PBA Tour title. In his first PBA television appearance, Koivuniemi defeated PBA star Pete Weber by a pin to win the 2000 USBC Masters. A year later he won the U.S. Open, and he claimed the crown jewel of his PBA career in 2011, when he won the $250,000 first prize in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions.
“I’m having a really good day,” the 51-year-old Koivuniemi said. “It was a really great call (from Tom Clark).
“I was 32 when I joined the PBA, but I had my experience around the world before I joined. But back then bowling on tour was something you needed to learn about. To bowl every week and to realize how good the players really were was different. Even when you had a good week, making the top 24 or a (TV) show was really hard. I knew I had to get better.
“It’s amazing how fast time goes,” he added. “I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I bowled on tour for the last time. But being in the hall of fame now is a great, great honor.”
Other inductees to the 2019 PBA Hall of Fame include Patrick Allen, Bob Johnson, journalist, and Jim Doty, General Manager Royal Pin Centers of Indianaolis.
The 2019 PBA Hall of Fame ceremonies will be live streamed by PBA Xtra Frame on FloBowling. Tickets for the event will be available online in the future (https://www.pba.com/Tickets).
MIKA KOIVUNIEMI CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Mika Koivuniemi, who didn’t join the PBA until he was 32, quickly earned the nickname “Major Mika” after winning the 2000 USBC Masters and 2001 U.S. Open before winning his first “standard” PBA Tour title in 2003. His most memorable feat might have been his historic 299-100 victory over Tom Daugherty in the semifinal match of the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions, followed by a victory over Tom Smallwood in the title match of the $1 million event, winning the richest first prize in PBA history ($250,000).
Despite his reasonably-late start in PBA Tour competition, the native of Finland bowled in 405 PBA Tour events and finished in the top five 45 times on his way to $1,851,503 in career earnings. He finished in the top 10 in earnings eight times, averaged 219.21 for 6,774 games and won the Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year Award in 2004 and 2011.
A member of the World Bowling Writers and Finland Bowling Halls of Fame, Koivuniemi has won titles and bowled 300 games in 21 different countries. He bowled the 17th nationally-televised PBA 300 game during the finals of the 2003 Cambridge Credit Classic – the first standard PBA Tour event he won. He is the only foreign-born player to win both the USBC Masters and the U.S. Open, and he was the first European bowler to win the Japan Cup.
In his second year as a PBA50 Tour competitor, he added another major – the 2018 Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open.