PBA 60th Anniversary Most Memorable Moments
Throughout the 2018 season the PBA is celebrating its 60th Anniversary by unveiling the 60 most memorable moments in PBA history. A panel of PBA historians, veteran bowling writers and long-time PBA Tour competitors reviewed a list of more than 125 of the PBA’s most memorable victories, defeats, triumphs and disappointments, record-setting achievements and headline news stories to come up with a list of the top 60 moments.
#21 - Final ABC Broadcast
In 1997, the PBA St. Clair Classic was the last Pro Bowlers Tour event televised by ABC Sports, ending a 36-year run. The title match between Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Pete Weber was won by Williams, 206-195, and included an emotional farewell video tribute to ABC announcers Nelson “Bo” Burton Jr. and Chris Schenkel who broke down in tears at the end of the telecast.
#22 - Dick Weber Wins in Six Decades
By winning a PBA Senior Regional event in Taylorville, Ill. in 2002, Dick Weber became the first player in PBA history to win PBA titles at any level in six consecutive decades. Weber won his first two PBA titles in the PBA’s second and third events – the 1959 Paramus Eastern Open in Paramus, N.J., and the Dayton (Ohio) Open. Those two events were the first of 23 consecutive top 24 finishes extending into 1962 - a record that has never been broken. Dick Weber won 26 PBA Tour titles including a record-tying four BPAA All Star titles, matching Don Carter. Their record in the forerunner to the U.S. Open stood until Dick’s son Pete won a fifth U.S. Open title at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J., in 2012.
#23 - Petraglia Rolls 300 at 1994 National Championship
In the 1994 PBA National Championship at Ducat’s Imperial Lanes in Toledo, Ohio, Johnny Petraglia threw the seventh televised 300 game in PBA history, defeating Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the second match and earning a $100,000 bonus
#24 - Branham is First African-American Major Champion
In the last Firestone-sponsored PBA Tournament of Champions, George Branham III became the first African-American to win a PBA Tour major championship, defeating Parker Bohn III, 227-214, at Riviera Lanes in 1993.
#25 - Couch Wins Third Straight Tournament of Champions
With a 266-224 win over Ryan Shafer, Jason Couch became the only bowler in PBA Tour history to win three consecutive PBA Tournament of Champions and joined Mike Durbin as the second player to win the event three times. Couch’s wins came in 1999, 2000 and 2002 (event was not held in 2001) and they took place in three different centers – Incred-A-Bowl in Overland Park, Kan.; Brunswick Zone-Deer Park in Lake Zurich, Ill., and Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., respectively.
#26 - Inaugural PBA Hall of Fame Class
The PBA Hall of Fame’s inaugural class included one of the most talented groups in bowling history: Ray Bluth, Don Carter, Carmen Salvino, Harry Smith, Dick Weber and Billy Welu in the Performance category, and Frank Esposito and Chuck Pezzano for Meritorious Service.
#27 - Benoit Rolls 300 in First Television Appearance
Bob Benoit, in his first game ever on national television, defeated Mark Roth, 300-255, to win the 1988 PBA Quaker State Open, becoming the first player to throw a perfect game in a nationally-televised title match.
#28 - Petraglia Wins in Sixth Decade
PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia became the first player in PBA history to win a national tour or national senior tour title in six different decades after winning the 2012 PBA Senior Dayton Classic. Petraglia joined the PBA in 1965 and won his first title in the 1966 PBA Fort Smith Open. In 1971, Petraglia won five titles including three consecutive wins culminating with his first major championship - the 1971 Firestone Tournament of Champions. The TOC title, coupled with his 1977 BPAA U.S. Open and 1980 PBA National Championship wins, made him the second player ever to win the PBA’s prestigious Triple Crown (joining Billy Hardwick). Today there are six players who have completed the Triple Crown.
#29 - Duke is Youngest to Win PBA Title
During the PBA’s 25th anniversary season, Norm Duke became the youngest bowler to win a PBA Tour title when he won the 1983 Cleveland Open at the age of 18 years, 345 days.
#30 - Firestone Sponsors TOC for First Time
In 1965, Firestone begins its sponsorship of the PBA Tournament of Champions, a partnership that started at Firestone Bowlarama Lanes in Akron, Ohio. The partnership, which was the first commercially-titled sports event ever on national network television, lasted 29 consecutive years. In 1966, Fairlawn (Akron), Ohio based Riviera Lanes hosts its first Firestone Tournament of Champions and would become the iconic home to the Tour’s most prestigious major through 1994.
#31 - Aulby Wins TPC, Completes Super Slam
Mike Aulby won the 1996 Bayer/Brunswick Touring Players Championship to become the first (and thus far only) player to win bowling’s “Super Slam” consisting of all five majors (U.S. Open, PBA National/World Championship, PBA Tournament of Champions, USBC Masters & PBA Touring Players Championship). Aulby also won Showboat Invitational and Brunswick Memorial World Open titles, and remains the only player to win every 56-game format tournament the PBA has offered. Aulby also was the first PBA player to earn Rookie of the Year (1979) and Player of the Year (1985) honors.
#32 - Belmonte Wins USBC Masters for Fourth Time
In 2017, Jason Belmonte became the only player to win the USBC Masters four times. As top qualifier, he defeated amateur Michael Tang, 279–212, at The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas for his eighth PBA major title. Two seasons earlier, Belmonte became the only player to win the Masters three consecutive years after defeating AJ Johnson at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, in Green Bay, Wis.
#33 - PBA Senior Tour Launched in 1981
In 1981, the PBA Senior Tour was created and began competition with Bill Beach defeating Bill Lillard, 200-191, in the inaugural PBA Senior Championship in New Orleans, La. The PBA Senior Tour was the foundation for many memorable moments for bowlers age 50 and older, including Mark Roth becoming the first player to earn both “PBA Senior” (2001) and PBA Player of the Year honors (1977-’79 and 1984) and where Joe Scarborough bowled the first certified 900 series in PBA history at the PBA50 Sun Bowl at The Villages.
#34 - Anthony is First to Earn $100,000 in a Season
In 1975 Earl Anthony became the first player to earn $100,000 in a sin¬gle season with his victory in the Buzz Fazio Open in Battle Creek, Mich. The win, Anthony’s seventh of the year, was worth $5,000 and put his season total at $100,890. Earlier that year, Anthony won the PBA National Championship at Imperial Lanes in Toledo, Ohio, becoming the first player in PBA history to win the National Championship three consecutive years ...an unprecedented feat and one he repeated in the same event in 1981, ’82 and ’83. Anthony’s record-breaking career led to him being voted No. 1 on the PBA’s list of the 50 Greatest Players during the PBA’s 50th Anniversary season in 2009.
#35 - Lou Campi Wins PBA's First Event
“Wrong Foot” Lou Campi of Dumont, N.J., won the PBA’s first event, the 1959 Empire State Open in Albany, N.Y., and collected a $2,500 first prize.
#36 - Williams Wins 7th Player of the Year Award
At the age of 50, Walter Ray Williams Jr. swept every major statistical category during the 2009-10 PBA Tour season en route to a record seventh Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year honor. Williams also was named Bowler of the Decade for the second consecutive decade – a feat unprecedented in the sports world. A season earlier Williams became the first player to surpass $4 million in PBA career earnings and in 2016 became the first player in PBA history to win a combined total of 100 PBA titles at all levels when he teamed up with Dick Allen and Dennis Lane to win the PBA South Region’s PBA/PBA50/PBA60 Decker Appraisal Services Baker Trio title. As the PBA50 player in the group, Williams won his 10th PBA50 Regional title to go along with 47 PBA Tour titles, 32 PBA Regional titles and 11 PBA50 Tour titles.
#37 - Weber Completes Second Triple Crown
PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber became the first player to complete the PBA Triple Crown for a second time when he defeated Jason Belmonte, 224-179, to win the 2013 PBA Tournament of Champions at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. The win also set the record for the oldest player to win the TOC at age 50.
#38 - 1991 TOC Delayed Due to Bomb Threat
The 1991 PBA Tournament of Champions was delayed 40 minutes due to a bomb threat at Riviera Lanes. The scare, which turned out to be a hoax, didn’t affect David Ozio as he went on to defeat Amleto Monacelli, 236-203, for the title en route to 1991 PBA Player of the Year honors.
#39 - Holman Becomes Youngest to Win TOC
At age 21, Marshall Holman became the youngest player to win the Firestone PBA Tournament of Champions when he beat Billy Hardwick, 203-198. The record stood 40 years until Sweden’s Jesper Svensson won the 2016 event at age 20 and 357 days.
#40 - Goebel Defeats Duke, 296-280, For Title
In 1994, Bryan Goebel shot 296 to Norm Duke’s 280 in the title match of the PBA True Value Open in Peoria, Ill. Goebel left the 3-6-9-10 on his final shot to lose a $200,000 perfect-game bonus offered by True Value in its own tournament. Duke’s 280 game still remains the highest losing score in a televised title match.
#41 - Duke Wins Three Consecutive Majors
With his 259-189 win over Chris Barnes in the 2008 PBA World Championship, Norm Duke became the first and only bowler to win three consecutive PBA major championships: Denny’s World Championship (Indianapolis in February 2008), 65th Denny’s U.S. Open (North Brunswick, N.J., in March 2008) and his second PBA World Championship (Wichita in October 2008).
#42 - PBA Launches Xtra Frame
The PBA launched its online streaming service, Xtra Frame, during the 2007 Lumber Liquidators Championship in Baltimore. The service promised fans live coverage of one exclusive “Match of the Week” from each event’s Round of 8 competition throughout the 2007-08 season. Today, Xtra Frame features more than 1,200 hours of live bowling from the Go Bowling! PBA Tour, PBA50 Tour, PWBA Tour, PBA Xtra Frame Tour Series and select PBA Regional Tour and special events each year. Xtra Frame was a relaunch of PBA's Strike Pass which revolutionized internet coverage of bowling beginning in 2002.
#43 - Johnson is First Woman to Qualify for TV Finals
Liz Johnson became the first woman to advance to a PBA Tour TV finals during the 2005 PBA Banquet Open at Spectrum Lanes in Wyoming, Mich. Johnson defeated Wes Malott, 235-228, in the semifinals before losing to Tommy Jones, 219-192, in the championship match. Johnson’s path to the televised finals was made possible when the PBA opened its membership to women in 2004. A year after Johnson’s TV appearance Kelly Kulick became the first woman to earn an exemption onto the Denny’s PBA Tour when she finished sixth in the 2006 Denny’s Tour Trials.
#44 - Year of the Soaker
In 1973 Don McCune used bowling balls chemically-softened to create hooking power no other player could match. McCune’s ingenuity – perfectly legal at the time – led to a six-title season, a tour-best $69,000 in earnings and PBA Player of the Year honors giving the season the unofficial title of the “Year of the Soaker”. His actions led to a plethora of new rules and regulations related to altering bowling balls, but the impact also ushered in a new era of bowling balls designed to create hooking power.
#45 - Ballard Wins Then-Record $100,000 Prize
Del Ballard Jr. made history by winning $100,000, the then-richest ever first place prize offered by the PBA, when he defeated Pete Weber, 247-209, in the 1987 Seagram’s Coolers U.S. Open at Narrows Plaza Bowl in Tacoma, Wash.
#46 - PBA Holds First Outdoor Finals
In 1999, the PBA contested its first outdoor event, The New York City PBA Experience. The event was held on a special two-lane installation in Manhattan’s Bryant Park and was won by Eric Forkel. In another first, Milwaukee’s Miller Park hosted the 2004 USBC Miller High Life Masters, marking the first time a PBA Tour event was held in a major league baseball stadium. With more than 4,300 in attendance, Danny Wiseman defeated Patrick Allen, 268-183, on the unique four-lane set-up installed on the infield between first to second base. But historic venues are nothing new to the PBA. In 1967, Madison Square Garden, known as “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” hosted the PBA National Championship (won by Dave Davis) and later hosted three consecutive BPAA U.S. Opens (1972-74). And historic Joe Louis Arena in Detroit hosted the largest crowd in PBA history when 7,212 fans watched Dave Husted beat Paul Koehler, 266-245, to claim the 1995 U.S. Open title.
#47 - Smallwood Wins 2009 World Championship
After qualifying for the PBA World Championship finals during the inaugural World Series of Bowling at Thunderbowl Lanes in early September, Tom Smallwood won the 2009 PBA World Championship in Wichita, Kan., upsetting reigning PBA Player of the Year Wes Malott, 244-228. Smallwood’s rags-to-riches story after being laid off from his job in the auto industry in Detroit became a national news story during the nation’s economic downturn. Smallwood’s win is one of many historical moments coming from the first-ever WSOB which included six standard events (Motor City Open, Cheetah Championship, Viper Championship, Chameleon Championship, Scorpion Championship, Shark Championship) and three major championships (PBA World Championship qualifying rounds, PBA Women’s World Championship and PBA Senior World Championship) all taking place in suburban Detroit over 38 days.
#48 - PBA Regional Tour Launches in 1969
In 1969, the PBA Regional Tour was launched with its inaugural event - the Regional Players Championship - held at Kingpin Lanes in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tom Hennessey beat Al Fuscarino, 216-211, to win the event over a field that included 12 regional champions and runners-up representing the PBA’s new six region program. Today, the PBA Regional Tour hosts approximately 150 events each year in seven domestic regions plus Japan. Pete Weber (47 standard and five PBA50 titles) and Dale Traber (39 standard and 13 PBA50 titles) hold record for most Regional Tour titles at 52 and in 2016, Jakob Butturff became the first player to win nine PBA Regional Tour titles in a single season.
#49 - Burton Sets Four-Game TV Total Record
PBA Hall of Famer Nelson “Bo” Burton Jr. set a then-record 1,050 four-game TV total during the televised finals the 1984 An¬gle Open at Dick Weber Lanes in Florissant, Mo. Averaging 262.5, Burton threw games of 278, 279, 257 and 236 to pick up his 17th title.
#50 - Monacelli is First Foreign-Born Player of the Year
In 1989, Venezuelan native Amleto Monacelli became the first foreign-born player to win the PBA Player of the Year award after winning four titles including the Touring Players Championship. The next season he repeated the honor setting him up to become the first foreign-born player inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1997. Although a member since 1982, Monacelli was not the first foreign-born player to win a PBA Tour title. That honor belongs to Sweden’s Mats Karlsson who won the 1983 AMF Grand Prix in Crawley, England.
#51 - Jim Stefanich Bowls 3rd Ever Televised 300
Minutes before the 1974 PBA Midas Open finals began on ABC-TV, a lane breakdown forced Tournament Director Harry Golden to declare lanes from non-adjoining pairs as the official TV pair for the finals. In the second game, Jim Stefanich threw the PBA’s third televised game, and the only one ever bowled on a non-adjoining pair of lanes. Dick Ritger won the event, but Stefanich won a $10,000 300 game bonus plus a new Lincoln-Mercury Cougar.
#52 - John Handegard, Age 57, is Oldest to Win PBA Title
At age 57, John Handegard defeated Mark Williams, 278-247, to win the 1995 PBA Northwest Classic in Kennewick, Wash., becoming the oldest player to win a PBA Tour title.
#53 - Michael Haugen Jr. Overcomes Deficit, Wins TOC
Michael Haugen Jr. overcame a 53-pin deficit after six frames to win the 2008 H&R Block PBA Tournament of Champions, 215-214, over Chris Barnes at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas. Haugen’s five-strike rally forced Barnes to get 20 pins in the 10th to force a tie. After converting a spare, Barnes left the 4 pin on his last shot giving Haugen the win.
#54 - Don Carter Wins Four Titles in 1962
During the 1962 season, PBA founding member Don Carter won four titles, earned $49,972 in prize money and recorded an incredible 18 top-five finishes. Carter’s performance in the formative years of the PBA led to him being a part of the inaugural PBA Hall of Fame class in 1975.
#55 - Mike Durbin Wins Third Career TOC
Mike Durbin became the first bowler to win the Firestone PBA Tournament of Champions three times when he defeated Mike Aulby, 246-163, at Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio. Durbin, who also won the event in 1972 and 1982, was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame earlier that week.
#56 - Pete Weber's 299 Serves Notice New PBA is Born
In the semifinal match of the 2001 PBA Great Lakes Classic in Grand Rapids, Mich., Pete Weber defeated Steve Wilson, 299-242, missing his 300 when he left a 4 pin on his final shot. Weber's performance was one of the highlights of the PBA's new ownership group which relaunched the Tour in 2001. Weber went on to defeat Parker Bohn III, 235-201, for the title and tie his legendary father, Dick Weber, and PBA Hall of Famer Don Johnson for sixth on the all-time PBA Tour titles list.
#57 - Sean Rash Rolls 300 at 2015 TOC
In the 2015 PBA Tournament of Champions, Sean Rash became the first player to bowl two nationally-televised 300 games in PBA Tour competition. It was only the second 300 game ever in the TOC TV finals and the first since Jack Biondollilo bowled the first nationally-televised perfect game in PBA history in 1967. Rash's first televised 300 came in the PBA Wolf Open in Shawnee, Okla., in 2014.
#58 - Creation of PBA Lane Maintenance Program
The PBA Lane Maintenance program was created mid-way through the 1971 season. Thirty-six years later PBA oil patterns were branded with animal names, descriptions and images (Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion, Shark and Viper). In 2013, a blue dye was added to the oil giving viewers an inside look at how the pattern looked on the lane. Today the PBA has 16 unique patterns that offer a variety of lengths, volumes and challenges. Current patterns are available at https://www.pba.com/OilPatterns.
#59 - Chris Warren vs. Bob Vespi
At the 1992 PBA Florida Open at Cypress Lanes, sparks flew between Bob Vespi and Chris Warren as only three pins separated the two going into the final frames. Warren threw three strikes in the 10th to win his fifth PBA Tour title, 211-208.
#60 - PBA League, Dallas Strikers Bowl 300
With owner Billie Jean King in the audience, the PBA League completed its inaugural season with the NYC WTT Kingpins defeating the Motown Muscle in 2013. Three years later, the Dallas Strikers made history as they recorded the first team Baker 300 game in televised PBA League competition at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine.