North American Bowling News

The Webers: Their Impact on Professional Bowling

Father and Son, Dick and Pete Weber (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)

In today's world of professional sports, it's a rare feat indeed to have one name synonymous with a sport for multiple generations. However, when it comes to the name of Weber, one can't help but think of 'Bowling', first and foremost. And it's been that way for the past 5 decades.

From individual standpoints, Dick and Pete Weber are unquestionably the most successful father-son tandem in the history of athletics. Each half of this 'dynamic duo' has done so much for the sport of bowling, in that without them, professional bowling certainly wouldn't have enjoyed the prominence it currently endures.

Bowling Hall of Famer, Dick Weber (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)

Dick Weber is essentially, the father of the Professional Bowlers Association. He was one of the founding members of the PBA in 1958, and he won his first tour in 1959, and then a 2nd of the 3 events held during the inaugural and official first year of the PBA. Weber continued to pile up the titles during the 1960s and into the 1970s, and was held high in esteem by his peers on the pro tour. As a testimonial to Weber's lofty career, the legendary Earl Anthony stated during a TV telecast that he considered Dick Weber as the greatest bowler of all time. But more than that, while the term has often been used, it fits so appropriately to say that Dick Weber was a true ambassador for the sport of bowling.

From fierce competitor to unparalleled sportsman, Dick was a true legend. Exuding charisma, he was also one of the most recognizable sports figures on the planet during his prominence--which is really saying something when a bowler is a cornerstone of not just American culture, but world renown.

Dick Weber, running out a shot (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)

Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Dick was a mailman at one time, and became famous initially by being part of the high-profile Budweiser team, which also included PBA greats Don Carter, Ray Bluth, Tom Hennessey, and Pat Patterson. With a seemingly endless list of accomplishments, Weber's career resume is fully loaded. His last national title came in 1977 at the King Louie Open.

By the 1980s, time continued to march on, and Dick graduated from the PBA to the popular senior pro tour. In the coming years, the elder Weber won 6 PBA Senior titles, and is the only bowler ever to win a PBA championship in 6 different decades. His last national title came in 1977 at the King Louie Open.

With Dick Weber inevitably moving into the PBA senior ranks, the national tour still had no rest from the name of Weber. In 1979, the bowling world would be graced by another of the Weber clan, as Dick's son, Pete, soon became a feared player on the tour. Pete was named PBA Rookie of the Year in 1980, and in the coming years would become a household name on the bowling circuit. If anybody ever wondered about just how good Dick Weber's son would be if he ever got into bowling, Pete demonstrates this exceedingly. Holder of 34 PBA titles, including 8 majors and 4 "U.S. Open"s, Pete Weber is ranked 3rd in all-time wins, tied with Mark Roth, only behind Walter Ray Williams, Jr., and Earl Anthony.

The younger Weber was a phenom from the 'git-go', and before long, he picked up the family bowling torch, and captured his first pro tour. So difficult it had to be to follow in his legendary father's footsteps. To his credit, Pete has established his own personality. Not nearly as restrained as Dick's comparatively introverted demeanor, the uninhibited young Weber has let his enthusiasm come to the surface. But more importantly, Pete has let his bowling do the talking for him, over the years.

While the flamboyant style of Weber may have rubbed a few the wrong way, others have enjoyed it. As is the case in any form of entertainment--without the personality coupled with ability, you wouldn't have the superstar.

Being a legend of the game requires a tremendous amount of skill, obviously. But there are times when 'lady luck' needs to be in close company with said legend, also. Such was the case in the championship match between Pete Weber and Del Ballard, Jr. In the final frame, Pete finished first, and put the pressure on Del, forcing Ballard to toss a double-header and 7 to win. Ballard answered the challenge on his first two shots, striking on both balls. The infamous 3rd ball can be described as simply a 'flub' shot, in which the deciding, final ball got away from Ballard and went in the channel. Being involved, and on the winning end of such a gut-wrenching moment adds to the legacy of an established champion of the game. At least for Ballard, the story did have a somewhat happy ending, as he bounced back the following week with the heart of a champion, and won the very next PBA tour event.

Pete Weber, Classic reaction (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)

As times have changed, so has the pro tour. Around the turn of the century, or rather the millennium, the advent of the reactive resin bowling balls, which produced higher scoring, seemed to be complementary to the growing popularity of the arena format for TV tapings, for those viewers who were faithfully tuning in. However, on a national level, bowling appeared to be on the decline. The PBA was struggling as a business and ended up acquiring new ownership. It was at this time that such an impersonal entity as the game of bowling would endure 'luck', which seems to be reserved only for human benefactors. In this case, luck came in the human form of Pete Weber, whose game was in a period of adjustment for awhile, but soon rebounded. His flashy persona was the intangible lift that the sport needed to revive itself, and like the missing key piece of a jigsaw puzzle, Pete fit right in with the arena TV format. Pete Weber was not only a great bowler, but also a performer, and the Professional Bowlers Association tour benefited greatly as ratings for the game began to soar once more. The younger Weber blazed a new trail for the game, as Dick had done in a different fashion in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The pro tour has now entered into a new era, where oil patterns and lane conditioning are becoming recognizable by name, such as Cheetah, Viper, and Shark, and the science of the new equipment is practically required knowledge among not only tournament players but serious league members.

In 2002, Pete Weber was inducted into the Professional Bowlers Association Hall-of-Fame, joining Dick Weber, who was inducted in 1975. They are the only father and son achieving such a prestigious honor.

When thinking back over the careers of the Webers, it's undeniable that they certainly are two separate and distinct figures to consider, with 70 PBA titles between them, and counting. The Webers are unique in that each has made an impact to multiple generations, in his own way. Although Dick is no longer with us, the tremendous work he did throughout his career lit a flame that provided a long-lasting light for the PBA--and this flame was rekindled by Pete. They both will end up meeting again at each life-trail's end. As father and son, they'll one day be able to look back on what they've accomplished along the way--a true promotion for the sport they love.

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