The Top 5 Greatest PBA Bowlers of All Time

The Bowling GOATs – Top 5 Greatest PBA Bowlers Ever

By Michael Cousins

It is never easy ranking any sport’s greatest players. In fact, it is darn near impossible. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest issue with comparing different athletes from different eras is comparing the eras, themselves.

But, for the sake of this article, we are going to give it a go. While these rankings aren’t ever easy, rarely accurate, and always subjective, they remain fun. So, without further ado, let us begin with the top 5 PBA bowlers of all time!

1) Pete Weber: 37 career titles, 10 major championships, 6 PBA 50 titles.

When it comes to Pete Weber, one must first look at his longevity. This guy has been amongst the game’s top competitors for the better part of three decades. His desire to win and his confidence are unmatched. Then, when you look at his physical game, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of his peers. The most impressive aspect of Weber’s game can be seen in the way he gets up for the biggest events; Weber has 10 major championships, which is tied for the most of all-time, and at 54 years of age, he remains a major threat still today.

2) Walter Ray Williams Jr: 48 career titles, 8 major championships, 9 PBA 50 titles.

Walter Ray Williams Jr. is the winningest bowler in the history of the sport. In addition to having the most PBA Championships of all time, he holds the record for most PBA Player of the Year Awards, as well. Like Weber, Williams’ longevity has been that of legend. While he isn’t quite the level of player as Weber is today, he is still no slouch, and his 48 career titles have earned him a spot among the top 2. A very strong argument could be made for Williams at 1, and not Weber, but I stick with my rankings.

3) Earl Anthony: 43 career titles, 10 major championships

Earl Anthony was the single greatest player of his era. He holds the record for most championship round appearances in a single season with 15. He held the record for most PBA Championships for decades, before Williams ultimately leapfrogged him. In addition to being one of the three greatest players in PBA history, an argument could be made that, along with Dick Weber, Anthony was the greatest ambassador in the history of the sport.

4) Norm Duke: 38 career titles, 7 major championships, 2 PBA 50 titles

In addition to being one of the greatest bowlers of all-time, Duke is one of the most likable players in the history of the PBA tour. Throughout his career, he has had an almost cult-like following of fans and loyalists rooting him on. Duke is arguably the most versatile player in the history of the PBA tour, and has won titles from just about every arrow on the lane.

5) Mark Roth: 34 career titles, 2 major championships

Roth is widely regarded as the father of today’s modern power game. With his intimidating physical game, Roth dominated the late 1970s – early 1980s in a way very few have ever dominated a single period. In 1984, Roth set the record for most championships in a single-season with 8, a record that still stands today. In 1979, he set the record for highest average ever recorded (at the time) with 221.699, which, in 1979, was quite the average.

As I prefaced this list at the beginning of the article, this is entirely subjective. I understand that almost the entire top five could be rearranged and re-ranked in any order. However, regardless of how you’d rank these give (from 1 to 5), I do not believe that there is any questioning that these five bowlers belong in the conversation.


48 thoughts on “The Top 5 Greatest PBA Bowlers of All Time

    • Pete Weber says:

      I loved watching him win and got upset every time he came in second (a record amount of times).
      He had this slow release which scattered the pins and almost never missed the pocket. No wonder they called him, “The Machine”. He probably could still go out there and do well today if he hadn’t had that unfortunate fatal fall.

      • Tony Walker says:

        Walter Ray was solid. But Pete Weber is a true Bowler to a Bowler. Had a meal with him before a tourney in Illinois. Stopped and said if he could sit at our table by the lane to eat before we started. 15 minutes talking to one heck of a classy man. Thank you Pete!!

  1. Chuck Beach says:

    I say Earl Anthony was the number one of all time for one simple reason. He made the TV show even when they tried to block him out with an impossible oiling of the lanes.

    • Denise Swinehart says:

      I treasure my photo and autograph with my all time favorite Earl Anthony who I met at the senior PBA tour in Toledo Ohio in 1994.

        • Robert Wurdack says:

          Weber and the Goat met five times in championship matchs and the Goat won all five times. So the Goat not only has more titles more money winnings that has stood up for 18 years til today Weber isn’t even close to being the all time goat.

  2. Derek Hayes says:

    Jason Belmonte, in my opinion, is number 1 — he has averaged 1 MAJOR tournament victory, for the first 11 years of his PBA career, which is most in history. MAJOR victories are the key measure of success, because of the pressure and prestige.

  3. Maurice H says:

    Duck Weber makes the top ten its like who was better Koufax and Marichal from a long gone era or Pedro , Maddox, Verlander, or Ryan?

  4. Terry Arley says:

    I remember watching all of them Bowl starting with Dick Weber when I was a kid and my parents are bowling that’s what got me bowling Earl Anthony Mark Roth love the more I started working at the bowling alley in Hialeah Florida best to get practice to the bowl leagues and tournaments

  5. Terry Arley says:

    I remember watching all of them Bowl starting with Dick Weber when I was a kid and my parents were bowling that’s what got me bowling Earl Anthony Mark Roth love watching them all because of them I started bowling. I started working at the bowling alley in Hialeah Florida best to get practice to the bowl leagues and tournaments

  6. Stephen Warczakoski says:

    How can you consider a two handed bowler i would bet if belmonte had to bowl with 1 hand he would not be all that good that said they should ban 2 handed bowling

  7. Scott Lammar says:

    If it was so easy, everyone would be doing it. Belmonte’s greatest abilities are his sparemaking, ability to read the transition of the lanes, and to take whatever the lanes are giving him on a nightly basis.(Sames as Earl Anthony, Pete Weber, Walter Ray, and Norm Duke.)

  8. Pete says:

    Earl to me was the best. I think Earl had over 40 second place finishes, too. Walter Ray great also. Those top 5 were all greats.

  9. Vincent Biancomano says:

    It’s virtually impossible to compare athletes of different eras. This is especially hard to do in football, where the rules of the game have so changed to accent offense at the expense of defense, that we’re not even talking about the same game anymore. But it’s true in bowling, too, with increased scoring being the prime reason behind the thermo-composite bowling balls that allow stronger players to throw the ball even harder while generating tremendous torque for “right angle” turns into the pocket, etc. The aforementioned bowlers were great. But so were Don Carter, Billy Hardwick, and Don Johnson, to name a few. I am just very happy to have seen them all.

  10. Bud Boule says:

    I’d say Norm Duke is number 1 because he has won tournaments from every arrow on the lane. #2 would be Earl Anthony because he won even when the lanes were blocked against him. #3 would be the original cranker, Mark Roth, who was and still is my favorite. #4 PDW, need I say more? He revolutionized the game to where it is today and my #5 would be Marshall Holman, who also won from anywhere on the lane.

  11. Cos Lazara says:

    I think Don Carter was the best in his time. I saw him bowl once against a team mate and at one point had 17 strikes in a row!
    I say in his time because I don’t think you can match bowlers from different era’s. The alleys and bowling equipment are so much different, and better now.

  12. Bo Landreneau says:

    You caaaaaaaan’t be serious if you leave out the top three of all time: Don Carter, Dick Weber and Earl Anthony. They bowled before the 21st Century you know …

  13. Joe Fernandez says:

    This is a very hard list to do. Each one of these bowlers definitely dominated but I would do it by era.
    1950s – Don Carter – won just about everything there was to win.
    1960s – Dick Weber
    1970s – Earl Anthony and Mark Roth. Can’t doubt that.
    1980s – Mike Aulby is my pick – he dominated that era quite well with real good shooters.
    1990s – early 2000s – WRWII.
    2010 to today – of course Belmonte.
    Longevity – Besides WRWII, Norm Duke, Pete Weber, and Bohn III, can be in that category. Ability to adapt to all conditions and equipment.

    In other words I have no favorite or top shooter. I think it is all about the era and longevity that they dominated under.

    Oh – my favorite power release? I put Steve Cook up there. What a game and release despite being huge.

  14. Milford Harold Cook says:

    With all the power bowlers currently on the tour, I believe all those named would just be one of the guys.

  15. Jay Hicks says:

    The greatest ever is not Pete Weber nor is it Walter Ray Williams, Jr. It’s The Doomsday Striking Machine, Earl Anthony

    • Mark Rubin says:

      My name is Mark Nelson “Bo” Burton Jr. beat me with 3X in the tenth. He autographed a picture for me and wrote “To Mark ….the worlds greatest Jewish bowler.” After he shook my hand and handed it to me…he said..oh crap, I forgot about Mark Roth! Many moons ago..but I nevee forgot his sense of humor!

  16. Mark Rubin says:

    My name is Mark Nelson “Bo” Burton Jr. beat me with 3X in the tenth. He autographed a picture for me and wrote “To Mark ….the worlds greatest Jewish bowler.” After he shook my hand and handed it to me…he said..oh crap, I forgot about Mark Roth! Many moons ago..but I nevee forgot his sense of humor!

  17. Laurence Gordon says:

    For me, it’s a tie between Don Carter and Earl Anthony. I started bowling back in the 50s, and it was a treat to see The Budweisers team of Weber, Bluth, Patterson and the gang in an exhibition. How can you not want to take up bowling after seeing those greats in action?

  18. Peter R says:

    Earl Anthony is the best, hands down, its really not even close. Earl RETIRED in his prime in 1983, sure he came back but he just got bored. Once Earl turned 50 and started bowling on the Senior Tour he literally could of won every week if he wanted to enter the event, but again he didn’t care, so effortlessly. The man was a true natural and an absolute legend. In the late 70’s/early 80’s in California and in Washington he couldn’t go anywhere without somebody wanting his autograph, people would stalk him constantly, not in a bad way just because they were so in awe and wanted a chance to meet/talk to him.

  19. Nelson Blanchard says:

    For my money, no one did it better than Earl (the pearl) Anthony. He didn’t start bowling at an older age than by far most of the pros, he racked up records in a shorter time than almost anyone else, he was so smooth on the lanes, did a lot to promote the game and so on , , , , ,

  20. Jim Ramge says:

    Earl at a standard that all tried to reach. He was smooth, not fancy and a great ambassador of the game. Met him on a USO tour in Europe where he faced off against our top AJBC boy and girl. At 0800 on a Saturday AM, he entered to a packed house, threw a few practice shots and tossed a 223. He then signed autographs before catching a ride to the airport. A genuine professional, person and ambassador. RIP.

  21. Anthony says:

    Solid top 5, I like it and all the stats to back it up. If done now though, I’d have to put Jason “Belmo” Belmonte at #1, whose now at 14 majors as of now 3/16/2022. He should have his 15th at least by the end of the year too.

  22. dave t says:

    so many people kiss pete’s butt it’s absurb. he is top 5. i would say 4. walter, earl, belmo ( and i don’t like him) pete, norm.

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