The hammer that Dale Traber formed with clutched fists and swung after the strike that gave him his 2009 USBC Senior Masters victory was a hammer he brought down on more than just opponent Ross Packard's dreams of capturing a major title on the PBA Senior Tour.
It was a hammer he brought down on years of bowling as The Other Traber, the Traber whose decades of dominance on the regional circuit had landed him nearly 50 regional victories without a single national title, the Traber whose brother David won 4 national titles over that time, the Traber who came up short against that same brother in the title match of the 1994 PBA National Championship where Dale had just defeated PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia after watching him throw a 300 game worth $100,000 in the prior match.
"I have strange TV shows," Dale Traber says as he recalls that title match against his own brother David in '94. "I bowled my brother on TV, bowled Mike Mineman on TV in 2007 when him and I were going to room the next week at the U.S. Open, he beats me and then we're driving together to New Jersey and I have to listen to all the phone calls the whole trip. That wasn't too much fun. But what are you gonna do? I mean, it's good for him that he won," Traber says of Mineman's victory at the 2007 PBA Bayer Classic.
These days, though, the one in the driver's seat taking those congratulatory phone calls is Dale Traber himself-not brother Dave, not the guy he happens to be rooming with next week, not anyone other than the man who will never again be looked at as The Other Traber. After winning his first two national titles in just three weeks this year on the PBA Senior Tour with one more tournament to go, Dale Traber might bring that hammer down on yet another first in 2009-PBA Senior Tour Player of the Year honors.
But if you think he devotes much time to analyzing the reasons behind his success in a year in which his Linds Limited team also won the Team event at the 2009 USBC Open Championships, maybe you've got the wrong Traber.
"I really don't know what to say, it's just been better, I don't know," a bemused Dale Traber says of why 2009 has become the most successful year of his career. "My goal was to try to get a win before Walter Ray came out. People don't know how good he is."
Maybe so. It is a good bet that after carrying a 244 league average for 87 games in the 2008-2009 season and adding 4 regional victories this year alone to his two national titles and USBC Open success this year, more people are starting to understand how good Dale Traber is. But you don't make it nearly halfway to the 100 mark in regional titles and bag two national titles in three weeks by reflecting on prior triumphs in complacent satisfaction, and that may be one reason why Dale Traber spends a lot more time looking forward than he does contemplating last month's glories.
"I would like to get one more win out here," Traber says of his plans for the rest of the season as the PBA Senior Player of the Year race grinds down to the final tournament on the 2009 PBA Senior Tour schedule. "It's not easy. Trust me, there's a lot of great players. People may think that the senior tour is laid back, but still there's plenty of great players out here and there are some Hall of Famers about to hit the 50 age and they're coming. But that's my goal, anyway, to at least be able to get one more out of this year. I know it's not easy."
Finishing in 26th place at the PBA Senior Dick Weber Open this week where fellow Player of the Year Contender Ron Mohr once again sits high up on a leader board studded with Hall of Famers, it clearly is not easy on the Senior Tour. And Dale Traber's path to that first national title at the PBA Senior Northern California Classic in Brentwood earlier this year certainly presented its host of obstacles. But whether or not he clinches Player of the Year honors or even that one more title he is looking for this season on the PBA Senior Tour, 2009 may go down as the year when Dale Traber made it look awfully easy.