With his trademark sunglasses and confrontational style, Pete Weber has been shaking up televised bowling since his arrival on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour in 1979. Known as “PDW,” Weber has won 37 major tournaments, while his career earnings of $3.5 million put him second of all time. He was recently profiled for an upcoming ESPN 30 for 30 short film entitled The Bad Boy of Bowling.
Your father, Dick Weber, was one of the founding members of the PBA Tour. Did you always feel like you’d follow in his footsteps?
I didn’t even know what I was going to do until I was about 15, when I said, “I know what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, and it’s going to be bowling.” I didn’t expect to do half of what my dad did. He always said, “You’re going to surpass me by a long shot.” His encouragement and desire for me to win was second to none. He was my biggest fan.
Your swing [in which Weber’s arm comes almost parallel to his body] is highly distinctive. How did it come about?
I watched Mark Roth shoot 299 on TV with a swing like that, and I looked at my mom and brothers and said, “That’s how I want to bowl.” I went to the bowling center and tried to get my arm swing as high as possible. When I went out on the PBA Tour people said, “You’re not going to last with a swing like that.” And here I am 35 years later, still going strong.
Tell us about the “Bad Boy of Bowling” persona. Is that really who you are? Do you like being the villain?
I’ve always been kind of a rebel—if you told me not to do it, I pretty much did it. I’ve always showed my emotions on the lane, whether it be good or bad. You’ll always know how I feel. The way I see it, if you love me or hate me, you’re still going to watch to see what I do.
You’re one of only two bowlers to win titles on both the PBA and PBA50 Tours. What does that mean to you?
I’m there to win no matter what. Winning the Senior U.S. Open is just as exciting as winning the regular U.S. Open, because it is a major tournament and we do have to keep up the goals we set for ourselves. It’s the same amount of work, and it’s hard.
So many career highlights. Which ones stand out for you?
Winning the 1987 Tournament of Champions was pretty cool, because it was something my family had never done. My dad finished second several times, so we kind of felt that was a title that belonged in the Weber family. Winning the U.S. Open for a fifth time, passing my dad and Don Carter, was really special. But it’s not what I’ve done or Dad has done, it’s what we’ve done together as a family. I always say we have 67 titles between us: I have 37 and Dad has 30.
How did Pete Weber get his start in bowling? Find out in our Pete Weber: Portrait of a Bowling Legend article.
By Chris Powell