Dick and Pete Weber are the first father-son tandem ever to both win titles on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.

The great Dick Weber was professional bowling’s first superstar.  Admired and respected by millions, his popularity spanned the globe.  Dick Weber was bowling’s, Arnold Palmer.  His son, Pete, is anything but regal.  Known for his maverick, rebellious personality, Pete Weber is bowling’s, John McEnroe.

Born in Indianapolis two days before Christmas 1929, Richard Anthony Weber quit his job as a mailman and moved to St. Louis to join a bowling team in 1955.  The anchorman on the greatest squad ever assembled – the Budweisers – Weber helped break a nearly two-decades-old record for a five-man team with 3,858 pins and 138 strikes.  The mark stood for 36 years until it was broken in 1994.

In 1958, Weber became a founding member of the PBA, which he then dominated.  He captured his first PBA title in the second tournament of the inaugural 1959 season, then won three of the first four events.  The elder Weber won ten of his first 23 PBA tournaments, including a record seven titles in the 13-event 1961 season.

Competing in an era of low purses, Dick Weber earned $930,000 in prize money during his career.  His son, Pete, has won more than $4 million.

Born outside St. Louis on August 21, 1962, Peter David Weber – nicknamed PDW – was introduced to bowling at two.  At 15, the youngster was already winning local tournaments against adults and, with the help of his father, joined the PBA Tour in 1979, at 17.  Pete Weber quickly made a name for himself with a brash, in-your-face attitude that made him one of the most entertaining and controversial bowlers on the PBA Tour.

Named 1980 PBA Rookie of the Year, the younger Weber won his first title in 1982.  He secured his tenth Tour win at 24, becoming the youngest to achieve that feat.  By 26, he had captured the sport’s Triple Crown.

Dick Weber won 30 PBA Tour events, including four majors.  All his major titles came in a five-year span between 1962 and 1965, and all were at the U.S. Open.  Weber twice finished runner-up in the Firestone Tournament of Champions [one of the sport’s four majors].  He earned his final standard PBA Tour title at 47, in the 1977 King Louie Open in Overland Park, Kansas.  The three-time National Bowler of the Year and 11-time All-American went on to capture six PBA Senior Tour events, amassing a career total of 36 titles.

Pete Weber won 37 times on Tour, including ten majors.  The Triple Crown of bowling consists of the PBA National Championship, Tournament of Champions and U.S. Open.  The younger Weber is the only player ever to win the Triple Crown twice.  He has rolled 85 perfect games in PBA competition and, in 2012, won his record fifth U.S. Open to surpass the previous mark of four formerly held by his father.  Weber joined the PBA50 [formerly Senior] Tour in 2013, where he won 11 times, including four majors.

The new PBA likes me, likes my antics.  They think that’s what’s going to sell the PBA.

The greatest ambassador the sport of bowling has ever known, Dick Weber was beloved.  His is the most recognized name in the history of the game.  A world-wide figurehead, Weber was a tireless promoter.  He was the face of bowling during the height of the sport’s popularity in America, in the 1950s and ‘60s.  Weber once bowled in the cargo section of a Boeing 707 flying from New York to Washington, D.C., and appeared several times on Late Show with David Letterman.

Pete Weber is the complete opposite of his father.  Depending on one’s perspective, he is either a giant black eye on a sport constantly searching for respect or the greatest show in bowling.  Weber is completely off the leash.  Some despise his act – others crave it.  A black-hatted rebel in a saloon full of white hats, PDW brought trash talk to bowling —  to himself, to his competitors, to the crowd and, sometimes, to the pins.  He’s excitable.  He’s talented.  And sometimes, he’s raunchy.

Featuring a high backswing while imparting wicked sidespin his 15-pound ball, Weber’s schtick is part-WWF, part PBA.  He wears sunglasses while he rolls his rock and delivers an animated crotch chop after throwing a strike.  His personal life has been plagued with problems.  In the early 1990s, Weber blew $150,000 on cocaine, alcohol and gambling.  He once spent a four-week stretch on Tour in a “complete blackout,” staying up for days on end with cocaine and drinking a fifth of Jack Daniels every night.  On the heels of two divorces, Weber entered rehab in March 1984, ending what his famous father called “eight years of hell.”

At the time, the very Tour his father had founded and helped build was in free fall and nearing insolvency.

In 2000, the PBA Tour was sold to three former Microsoft executives while Pete Weber was serving a six-month suspension for untoward behavior related to his drinking.  The new owners were in stark contrast to the old.  The former viewed Weber’s flashiness as the perfect fit for marketing the PBA to a new audience, while the latter had considered PDW a pariah.

I’ve never cared what other people thought about me…nothing I do is planned or rehearsed…I’m pretty sure if you watch somebody walk up, throw the ball and then go back and sit down over and over, you’re not going to want to watch bowling very much.

Pete Weber helped save professional bowling by becoming the new face of the PBA.  The new league is not his father’s Tour, but purses and television ratings have soared as Weber’s antics became more animated.  And he makes no apologies for that.

Dick Weber became the first player to win at least one PBA title in six consecutive decades, in 2002, including Senior Tour crowns.  He died in his sleep on Valentine’s Day three years later.  Pete Weber is the oldest winner of the U.S. Open [49] and Tournament of Champions [50].  He is also one of only four bowlers to win at least one standard PBA Tour title in four different decades.

In 2008, Pete Weber was ranked fourth on the PBA’s list of “50 Greatest Players of the Last 50 Years,” one spot behind his father.  The Webers have both been enshrined in the U.S. Bowling Congress Hall of Fame and the PBA Hall of Fame.

Get The Daily Dose delivered to your inbox

Comments

  1. The writing of this story is so engaging that I thoroughly enjoyed this read about a sport, in which I hold no interest.

  2. Interesting how things change so much in a single generation. I especially enjoyed the two pictures of Dick teaching his young son how to bowl – you see the love and the pride of the father in his eyes.

  3. I love Bowling. I bowled against Pete as a Professional back in 2013 on the same pair for a 9 game qualifying round. I managed to beat him 4 of the 9. He’s got the best Ball roll (rotation) on tour and wish I could throw it 1/2 as good.

  4. Bowling in the Southern Regionals of the P.B.A. I never wanted to see the name Pete Weber in the field. He was one tough s.o.b. to compete against! He is one of the greatest players ever!

  5. I agree dick weber was a very nice man on and off the lanes a true professional pete on the lanes is can be a real pain in the ass with his mouth off the lanes alot of people say he’s a nice guy must be a ego thing but he’s got the titles to back it up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *