I was really sorry to hear about this, as Weber and Earl Anthony built the PBA and were responsible for bowling's huge popularity in the fifties and sixties. I was a league bowler in high school (pretty lousy, but enjoyed the hell out of it) and being from Chicago bowling was huge. A friend of my brother and I was an incredible bowler who eventually went on the tour. The tv events always provided great personalities (like Art Trask with his huge perm chain-smoking his "Pipe-Aroma" Dutch Treats Cigarillos) and spun amazing tales (like outlaw Pete Weber bowling a 899 series in Saigon wearing combat boots and using a house ball).
Dick Weber Will be Missed Seattle, WA - February 14, 2005
Monday morning, Feb. 14, the bowling world received the shocking news that Dick Weber, the bowling legend who left an indelible impression on anyone who knew him, passed away in his sleep Sunday evening.
Words can barely do justice to describe not only Weber’s career, but also the effect he had on the many lives he touched throughout his life.
“I’m devastated. We lost a giant of the game and it’s such a tremendous loss,” said fellow PBA Hall of Famer and close friend Johnny Petraglia. “People will really realize it as months go by how much he meant to all of us. I knew him for 45 years and he is the reason I became a bowler. I can’t believe it’s over.
“Besides being bowling’s biggest ambassador, he is the epitome of class,” Petraglia added. “If you’re looking for role models, he is it. He is the one. It’s that simple.”
Weber was a PBA Charter Member, helping jump start the fledgling league in 1958. He won the second and third events the PBA Tour ever held, the 1959 PBA Paramus-Eastern tournament and the 1959 PBA Dayton Open. Weber made it three in a row with the 1960 season-opening Empire State Open in Albany, N.Y.
The 1961 season was special for Weber, who in one stretch won five of six events. He was the first PBA member to capture three consecutive Tour wins in one season, taking home the top prize in the All-American in Dallas, the Shreveport (La.) Open and the Fred Magee Open in Houston.
Weber again etched his name in the record books for his stellar 1961 season by becoming the first PBA member to finish in the top 5 in seven consecutive Tour events – a feat that’s been achieved just three other times in PBA history.
The 1960’s would prove to be Weber’s heyday on Tour, as he amassed 17 of his 26 career PBA Tour titles throughout the decade, as well as four BPAA All-Star wins in 1962, ’63, ’65 and ‘66.
Weber’s mantle was also filling up as he racked up numerous awards. He was named the BWAA Bowler of the Year in 1961, ’63 and 1965, as well as winning the 1965 PBA Player of the Year Award.
The right-hander from St. Louis, Mo., was elected to the ABC Hall of Fame in 1970 and added the PBA Hall of Fame to his accolades in 1975. He captured his 26th and final PBA Tour title in the 1977 PBA King Louie Open in Overland Park, Kan. That wasn’t the end of Weber’s winning ways, however, as he went on to win six Senior PBA Tour titles, including the major PBA Seniors Championship in 1983, ’86, ’87 and ’88.
In September, 2004, Weber showed that age could not slow him down, as he won the PBA Midwest Region Holiday Lanes Senior Open, leading the 38-bowler field in qualifying before going 5-0 in match play en route to his 44th career PBA title (26 PBA Tour wins, 10 Regional Tour wins, six Senior Tour victories and two Senior Regional Tour victories).
His last PBA Tour appearance came in November, 2004 when he received the Commissioner’s Exemption for the PBA BowlersParadise.com Open in Valley Park, Mo. The fans responded to Weber’s appearance by giving him a prolonged standing ovation before and after he appeared in the round of 64.
Besides being one of the top players to ever bowl on the PBA Tour, he was also a wonderful ambassador for the sport. He treated friends and fans so warmly and always had time for an autograph or handshake. He had an outgoing personality and could make anyone feel at ease.
“Every time I met the guy, I was more impressed than the last time. It’s just unbelievable how much he meant to bowling,” said long-time bowling writer Matt Fiorito. “At last year’s senior (regional) event, just watching the people, the look on their faces. They didn’t have to say hello to him, or shake hands. You could see the reverence on the peoples faces.
“Dick was just a wonderful guy…as much as people loved Earl Anthony, I think Dick Weber was just way beyond that.”
Weber was a pop culture icon, even appearing on David Letterman on several occasions. In 1997, Letterman brought Weber on the show to commemorate the Hall of Famer’s first appearance on the late night talk show. Weber bowled with Letterman on 53rd street in New York City before taking on comedian Bill Cosby.
It’s safe to say that the PBA will never again be graced with the presence of someone who combined pure athletic talent and skill with the personality, compassion and thoughtfulness of Dick Weber.
(edited by NickBockwinkelFan on 15.2.05 0252) "Well, you can't involve friendship with business. It has to be one or the other. It's either business or friendship, or hit the bricks!" --Life Lessons from "The Tao of Bobby the Brain Heenan" Uncensored 2000 preview
"As long as the check don't bounce, I guess he's okay with it!" --Former All Pro Giants LB Harry Carson on Bill Parcells joining the hated rival Dallas Cowboys