The professional portion of the PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open begins Monday at Island Extreme Bowl in Welch, and organizers say it is the first National Tour bowling event in Minnesota in more than four decades (the PBA50 was formerly known as the senior tour). See PBA.com for a schedule for the event, which runs through Wednesday and is free to the public. In advance of the start, the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand caught up with PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber.
Q You are known for your flair when bowling and for not hiding your emotions. Is your style really you, or is it a show?
A Everybody has always known how I feel on the lanes, whether it’s really good or really bad. If you don’t have emotions, nobody wants to watch. I’ve always been that way and always will be that way, and I don’t want to change. It adds excitement, and the majority of people like it.
Q The thing you are perhaps most known for is your “crotch chops” celebration move. When did that start?
A When the new guys bought the tour (former Microsoft executives Chris Peters, Mike Slade and Rob Glaserthey in 2000), they gave us a little speech before the TV shows. They said that you’re a bowler first. But after that ball leaves your hand, you’re an entertainer. Well, they didn’t need to tell me that. That opened my actions up. They pretty much said, with the exception of [swearing] on TV, we’ll pretty much let you do whatever you want to do. … Even before when people didn’t like [things I did], it was ‘Oh well,’ I was going to do it anyway. But now I’m more relaxed on TV. It really helped me loosen up a lot.
Q Where did you develop your bowling style?
A I was watching Mark Roth in 1978. He rolled a 299 on TV, and he just really jammed his fingers into the fingers hole and jammed his thumb into the thumb hole and really turned the ball. I looked at my dad (Hall of Famer Dick Weber) and said, ‘That’s how I want to bowl, right there.’ I tried a few things and Dad said, “Now that doesn’t look too bad.”
Q I’ve heard you have some unique superstitions. Are those real?
A My wife is not allowed to wear red on TV. She can wear red all she wants during the week. But I shoot about 150 on TV if she does. When I’m bowling really well I will sit in the same spot and fold my towel in the same way.
Q What’s the makeup of the average bowling fan?
A The people that really actually like bowling and who do it 2-3 times a week, or maybe somebody who hasn’t seen a professional tournament, they’ll be interested in it and come see it. [Former broadcaster] Chris Schenkel said it best: [Bowlers are] the nicest people in sports. The fans aren’t roped off from us. … That gives them a little more opportunity to hear what we have to say. Unless you see a scowl on our faces, we’re pretty approachable at any time.