Believe it or not, there was a time when professional bowling was one of the most popular sports on television. For more than three decades, from the early 1960s to late 1990s, the Professional Bowlers Tour was a staple of Saturday afternoon sports programming on ABC, as the prelude to its iconic "Wide World of Sports." Bowlers like Dick and Pete Weber, Earl Anthony, Marshall Holman and Walter Ray Williams Jr. became household names.
Those days are long gone amid the media saturation of mainstream sports like football and basketball and the emergence of popular new ones such as mixed martial arts. Still, the professional men’s and women’s bowling tours have chugged on in the recesses of cable sports television, with new stars and more fashionable attire.
The Professional Bowlers Association Tour made its return to broadcast television in 2019 with a new Fox Sports deal. Time will tell if the ratings return to the sport’s heyday when Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton Jr. called the action. But to honor a sport that has never gone out of style, here are the greatest bowlers of all time.