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PBA Legend Earl Anthony

Updated on November 17, 2021

Bowler Earl Anthony

Earl Anthony was certainly not the flashiest bowler, but he rose to the top of his profession anyway. The left-hander collected a total of 41 titles on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour, a record that was broken by Walter Ray Williams in 2006. When the PBA changed its rules in 2008 to include ABC Masters titles if they were won by a PBA member, Anthony's career total increased to 43 titles. His ten professional major titles are the most by any bowler. Anthony also won seven PBA Senior Tour titles for a grand total of 50 PBA Tour victories.

Never brash or flamboyant in a crew cut and plastic framed, horn-rimmed style eyewear (which he later abandoned for more modern frames), Anthony was dubbed "Square Earl" by fellow pro bowlers. He was also known by the nickname "The Doomsday Stroking Machine," due to his consistency and accuracy.

Public domain photo courtesy nndb

Anthony's smooth form netted him an amazing 43 PBA titles.

Photo courtesy

In 2008, Earl Anthony was voted the greatest bowler of all time by a PBA Tour panel of experts.

PBA Tour Career

Anthony captured PBA Player of the year honors six times. The late bowling legend Dick Weber said Anthony had the greatest speed control of any bowler to ever play the game. Earl was the first bowler in history to earn over $100,000 in a single season and the first to eclipse $1 million in career earnings.

Anthony's first of his 43 PBA titles came on June 7, 1970 by defeating Allie Clarke at the Heidelberg Open in Seattle, Washington. His final PBA title was a major - the 1983 Toledo Trust PBA National Championship. Six of his titles were achieved by a pair of improbable "three-peats" in the PBA National Championship, the first three from 1973-75 and the other three from 1981-83.

After a nine-month layoff, he came out of retirement and won the 1984 ABC Masters, which at the time was not part of the regular PBA tour. The PBA later added ABC Masters titles as PBA titles, giving Anthony at least one PBA title in 15 consecutive seasons (1970-84). The record was broken in the 2008-09 season by Walter Ray Williams, Jr., who has now won a title in 17 consective seasons.

After retiring, Anthony had a long run in the broadcast booth as a color commentator for ESPN and NBC Sports.

In 1981 he was voted into the PBA Hall of Fame. In 1986 he was voted into the ABC Hall of Fame. In 2000 he was voted "Master of the Millenium" by a wide margin in a nationwide vote. In a Sports Illustrated Magazine national vote he was named the 2nd Greatest Athlete in the history of the state of Washington trailing only former Utah Jazz NBA star John Stockton.

In 2008, the PBA celebrated 50 years in existence by commissioning a panel of experts to rank the "50 Greatest Bowlers of the Last 50 Years." Anthony was ranked #1 on the list. On an ESPN broadcast announcing the top three vote-getters, analyst Randy Pedersen quelled any naysayers who believed Anthony had an advantage over #2 vote-getter Walter Ray Williams, Jr. by being left-handed. Pedersen stated that there were numerous tournaments Anthony won where no other left-handers were in the top 20 finishers. To further bolster Anthony's selection as #1 of all time, Williams had publicly noted that Anthony collected his accolades in a much shorter span of time than he needed to earn his titles (roughly 400 events for Anthony versus 600-plus events for Williams). Williams made these remarks well after he had surpassed Anthony's career PBA titles record and well before the selections were revealed, making that ratification all the more impressive.

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Personal Life

Anthony was born in Tacoma, Washington. An excellent all-round athelete, he was a minor league baseball pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles organization before his days as a professional bowler. He was also an excellent golfer, achieving a near-scratch handicap at the age of 60. He once owned the course record at Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville, California with a scratch score of 64.

Earl Anthony died in 2001, succumbing to head injuries suffered after falling down a flight of stairs at a friend's home in New Berlin, Wisconsin. He was 63 years old.

The Earl Anthony Memorial Scholarship Fund was established through funding by the ABC Championship Tournament (now USBC), in order to provide scholarships to young bowlers. It is now administrated by the Bowling Foundation.

In January 2002, the PBA began the year with a tournament named after Anthony, "The Earl Anthony Memorial Classic." It was first held at TechCity Bowl in Kirkland, Washington. It was won by left-handed pro bowler Parker Bohn III, who beat Patrick Healey, Jr. in the final match 235 to 215. It later moved to Medford, Oregon, and re-titled as "The Earl Anthony Medford Classic." In 2010, the event took place in Dublin, CA, and was named the Earl Anthony Memorial.

Awards and Accolades

**Six-time PBA Player of the Year winner (1974-76 and 1981-83)

**Five-time George Young High Average award winner (1973-75, 1980, 1983)

**Established a record for most consecutive PBA seasons winning at least one tournament (15), which stood until 2008 when it was broken by Walter Ray Williams Jr.

**Holds PBA record of 15 televised finals appearances in one season (1975, 1981)

**Holds the PBA and Professional Bowling record with 10 major tournament titles

**Inducted into PBA Hall of Fame, 1981

**Inducted into ABC (now USBC) Hall of Fame, 1986

**Voted the greatest PBA player ever, when the PBA announced its "50 Greatest Players of the Last 50 Years" list in the 2008-09 season


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Career and personal info courtesy Wikipedia


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