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Coaches' Corner LEN NICHOLSON
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Articles The Best
"Who was the best bowler ever?"

This is a question that is continually talked about in each and every Sport. Not only is it continually talked about, but it is also continually argued.

Usually, there is no clear-cut answer and the reasons for that are many. The most common reason is that you must consider "eras". Every "era" is different for several reasons, and the main ones usually are: equipment, the competition and the environment.

Discussions (arguments - conversations) about "who" was (is) the best bowler "ever", continue in our sport as well. It seems that wherever you turn, or whatever website "chat-room", "message board" or "discussion group" that you go to, has some conversation of this nature.

I am sure that you have your own opinion about this, as well. I do, too.

Before getting into that, I must explain that I have had the luxury of watching the greatest bowlers in the world perform against each other on an almost daily basis for over 30-years, which has helped me to offer my opinion. Obviously, there were great bowlers (before my time) that I have never seen perform. In a way, I wish that I did. I would have loved to seen Ned Day, Hank Marino, Jimmy Smith, Junie McMahon and many of the other old-time greats, compete.

The only reasonable way that I can have an opinion, is to tell you about "who" I have seen, watched and studied. So, having said that, my opinion is based on my observations of just having watched (and known) the PBA bowlers - who are generally accepted as being the greatest bowlers in the world.

As previously mentioned, all of the "eras" are different. Below are my choices as the best bowlers of each "era". (Note: I have limited each "era" to 5-players (which was very hard to limit to only 5), and they are listed in alphabetical order).

1950's 1960's 1970's
  • Don Carter
  • Ray Bluth
  • Dick Hoover
  • Bill Lillard
  • Dick Weber
  • Don Carter
  • Billy Hardwick
  • Harry Smith
  • Dave Soutar
  • Dick Weber
  • Earl Anthony
  • Marshal Holman
  • Don Johnson
  • Dick Ritger
  • Mark Roth
1980's 1990's 2000's
  • Earl Anthony
  • Mike Aulby
  • Brian Voss
  • Wayne Webb
  • Pete Weber
  • Parker Bohn
  • Norm Duke
  • Brian Voss
  • Pete Weber
  • WR Williams
  • Chris Barnes
  • Norm Duke
  • Brian Voss
  • Pete Weber
  • WR Williams

Well, there you have it. That's "my" opinion. And, as "they" say, opinions are like noses - everybody has one.

Before the arguments start, let me explain my opinion.

Exactly how do you pick the "best"? You must have a formula. Reasonable people have one.

Here is mine:
A bowler must possess several outstanding "basics" to be considered great. In alphabetical order, they are:
A). Accuracy
B). Knowledge
C). Longevity
D). Power
E). Repeatability
F). Shot-making ability
G).Strong Mental Game

With those "basics" being itemized, we can now go forth with what we originally set out to do, and that is to pick WHO is/was the BEST.

First, we will pick those All-Time greats from each of the "eras" to make up the Top-5, and we will list "them" in alphabetical order.

Earl Anthony (80's)
Don Carter (50's)
Mark Roth (70's)
Dick Weber (60's)
WR Williams (90's)

In my opinion, it was: Earl Anthony.

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