Who's No. 1? PBA to name its Greatest Player Ever on Sunday

    01/21/09

    PBA News

    Anthony, Williams still in the race for Best Bowler in PBA's First 50 Years

     

    Who is the greatest player in the Professional Bowlers Association’s first 50 years? The answer to that question will finally be revealed during the live ESPN telecast of the H&R Block PBA Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

    The last two names on the list of the 50 best PBA players ever, as selected by a national panel of bowling industry experts, are the late Earl Anthony and current star Walter Ray Williams Jr.

    Who would you pick?

    Anthony, who bowled most of his career out of Tacoma, Wash., was the most dominant left-handed player in PBA history, winning 43 PBA Tour titles – a record that stood for 30 years before Williams broke it in 2007. Among his titles, however, are a PBA-record 10 “majors” including six PBA National Championships. He won that prestigious event three times in a row twice. He also won a pair of United States Bowling Congress Masters titles and two Tournament of Champions crowns, but the U.S. Open eluded him and prevented Anthony from capturing PBA Triple Crown and Grand Slam honors.

    Anthony, who ran away from the field to win titles when no other left-hander even made the match play cut, was a six-time PBA Player of the Year, won the George Young High Average award five times and was the first player in PBA history to surpass $1 million in career earnings. In a 2000 poll of industry experts conducted by Bowling Magazine, Anthony was declared “Master of the Millennium,” symbolic of being the best bowler in the more than 100 years of organized bowling in America.

    He was 45 when he stunned the bowling world by announcing his retirement from the PBA Tour at the end of 1983 – a season when he won his final PBA National Championship and his sixth Player of the Year title. Anthony returned in 1984 to bowl in – and win - the USBC Masters. He re-surfaced in 1988 to bowl a limited number of PBA Senior Tour events, winning seven times and boosting his PBA career earnings total to $1.4 million before permanently retiring. He still ranks third in career TV appearances (114) and second in most consecutive years with at least one title (15).

    Anthony was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the USBC Hall of Fame in 1986.

    How can you top that?

    Well, Williams has systematically eclipsed Anthony’s records almost across the board. Williams, who turned 48 in October, has more longevity than Anthony as a touring player and he’s right-handed, so experts have wrestled with those distinctions when weighing their votes.

    Beyond those two factors, Williams is still one of the most feared players in the world. He has now won 45 PBA Tour titles, including seven “majors.” The only title he is missing to complete the Triple Crown and Grand Slam is the Tournament of Champions, where he’ll be considered one of the favorites this week.

    Among his other astonishing stats: with his win in the Lake County Indiana Golden Anniversary Championship in November, he broke a tie with Anthony in winning a title for the 16th consecutive year. He has won a PBA-record seven Harry Smith Point Leader titles. He owns the single-season earnings record ($419,700 in 2002-03) and is the first player to exceed $4 million in career earnings.

    Williams has made a record 166 TV appearances – 47 more than runner-up Pete Weber. He also has been selected PBA Player of the Year six times, matching Anthony’s total, but he has been selected to U.S. Bowler’s All-America first team 17 times – five more than Anthony.

    Maybe the most impressive thing about Williams is that he’s still bowling like a 20-year-old. He’s a long way from calling it a career.

    Who’s No. 1? Tune in to the finals of the H&R Block Tournament of Champions on ESPN Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern; 9:30 a.m. Pacific) and you’ll find out.


    PBA 50 Greatest Players in PBA History


    1. ???
    2. ???
    3. Dick Weber
    4. Pete Weber
    5. Mark Roth
    6. Mike Aulby
    7. Norm Duke
    8. Don Johnson
    9. Marshall Holman
    10. Parker Bohn III

    11. Don Carter
    12. Billy Hardwick
    13. Brian Voss
    14. Dick Ritger
    15. Nelson Burton Jr.
    16. John Petraglia
    17. Carmen Salvino
    18. Wayne Webb
    19. Dave Davis
    20. Dave Soutar

    21. Amleto Monacelli
    22. Mike Durbin
    23. Dave Husted
    24. Jason Couch
    25. Steve Cook
    26. Chris Barnes
    27. Jim Stefanich
    28. Harry Smith
    29. Del Ballard Jr.
    30. Tommy Jones

    31. Wayne Zahn
    32. Jim Godman
    33. George Pappas
    34. David Ozio
    35. Randy Pedersen
    36. Dave Ferraro
    37. Larry Laub
    38. Bill Allen
    39. Mike McGrath
    40. Joe Berardi

    41. Tom Baker
    42. Danny Wiseman
    43. Doug Kent
    44. Patrick Allen
    45. John Guenther
    46. Gary Dickinson
    47. Barry Asher
    48. Tommy Hudson
    49. Mika Koivuniemi
    50. Bob Strampe