The first bowling ball I ever purchased with my own money was because of Earl Anthony...and I’m a righty.
Ah, the old Ebonite Magnum 10. I can still see the classic bulls eye logo in my mind, etched there forever from the countless times I wiped it off with my grimy Bowlers Pro Shop bowling towel. I was one of those kids that would walk a well-worn one-ball bag a few blocks to the local Red Carpet Lanes, bowl a pair of junior squads on Saturday morning and then run home with a fist-full of candy bars to watch the Pro Bowlers Tour on ABC Sports on Saturday afternoon.
Earl Anthony was one of my favorites. Anthony was the first to ever earn $100,000 in one season and over $1,000,000 for a career.
I wasn’t alone in my admiration for the smooth lefty also known as the Earl the Pearl and the Doomsday Stroking Machine. Earl seemed to be on every show, bowling for every title. It was something about Earl’s intensity, his magnificent approach to the foul line, clutch shots with the title on the line, memorable duels with the greatest names to ever compete on the Pro Bowlers Tour that made me want to watch every Saturday afternoon.
And I did, never once thinking that I would get a chance to know, meet and work with The Man.
The American Bowling Congress hired me in 1995 as an assistant producer on the World Team Challenge series. Our phenomenal broadcast team included Jay Randolph, the self-proclaimed “Round Mound of Sound” and color commentator Earl Anthony.
I remember feeling a little awestruck the first time I got to meet Earl Anthony. That disappeared quickly with the first handshake, warm smile and “Hello, Michael, good to meet you, I’m Earl.” As smooth as his approach was on the lanes, he was equally smooth with colleagues and fans.
As a broadcaster, Earl Anthony is one of the most underrated commentators in the long history of televised bowling shows. His unflappable style on the approach was well suited for the TV booth.
His keen sense of timing was equally utilized on television. One of Earl’s pet peeves was slow bowling and he would let you know with a number of colorful phrases when he felt a competitor was taking too much time.
As a play-by-play announcer alongside Earl in the booth, I had the pleasure of calling Jason Queen’s 300 game in the semifinals of the 1997 Masters. Later that year, I threw my own perfect game; with the words of Earl Anthony ringing in my ears as I stepped up in the 10th frame with the front nine.
Earl would have said something like, “If you are on a roll and your timing is right, why would you step off the approach or take a rerack? Just keep doing what you have been doing all along and stay in rhythm,” his voice was in my head as I pitched three solid strikes to lock up my first perfect game.
Earl’s phenomenal hand-eye coordination translated in the broadcast booth to being able to pick up almost imperceptible movements in the action he called to bring viewers a perspective from a player who had been there many times before and could easily tell you about it in a few entertaining comments.
Everyone misses Earl.
The PBA is excited to honor the greatest of them all at the Earl Anthony Memorial Classic at Earl Anthony’s Dublin Bowl January 12-17. Follow all the action during the week at pba.com including LIVE scoring and LIVE coverage of qualifying and match play on Xtra Frame leading up to the LIVE ESPN telecast on Sunday January 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern.
I think that Ebonite Magnum 10 that Earl inspired me to buy is still at Mom’s house rattling around in the basement somewhere, I hope she doesn’t throw it out.