10)- Butch Soper- Now Soper didn’t have a hall of fame career by any means, a journeyman on tour to say the least. He is the holder of 6 national titles, 1 major, being the 1996 PBA National Championship, and even shot 300 on TV. Now Soper was a 29 year member before retiring in 2001. In the 70s and 80s, if you saw Butch once a year on the show it was a lot. He had a hard time getting to that next level with his game. Butch was very 1 dimensional, he liked to spin it up the track, that was his main shot. And if he missed, he didn’t hit the head pin, if he game in light, he left a 5-7 or an 8-10. Resin came out in the early 90s, and it allowed him to have that error room that everyone else had, and hit just a little harder so the deflection problem stopped for him. This was most seen in 1994 when he shot his 300 with a Gold Rhino Pro in Reno against Bob Beniot, then the highlight of his career, winning the 1996 PBA National. Both shows with resin, playing his “A” game, and when Butch could have that look up the track with a little spin, he was one of the toughest to beat.
9) Dave Traber- Talk about a guy who I think is 1 dimensional? Dave Traber fits the part here. Joining in 1983, it took Traber 7 years to make his 1st show in 1990, and 11 years to win his 1st title, which he beat his brother Dale in the PBA National Championship. But what is the problem? Well Dave Traber’s “A” game is hard and straight, or as I call it, head hunting. He was someone that using urethane would over throw the shot and the ball would hit the pins like a pinball and would deflect, leaving those nice weak 5-7s or 8-10s in the pocket. Now move to resin, he didn’t have to throw at it mach3 speed, he could slow it up a little, bump his shot a little bit, and he didn’t have that deflecting problem that he had in the 80s and early 90s. His best year by far was 1996, where he made 2 TV shows and won $100k for the season. He was able to survive bowling on the national tour, and did pretty well in the regional circuit as he holds 20 titles. He is a PBA millionaire, so that does speak volumes. But let me as you this. If Traber had to bowl using U-Dots and Black Hammers for the 30 years he has been on tour, do you think he would have survived with the game that he had, or would he be a dead duck? He probably thanks the invention of reactive resin.
8)- Jason Couch- Now Couch is very much like Ryan Shafer, who you’ll read about next. Couch won his 1st title in 1993, resin in hand. But he really broke on the scene during the outbreak of resin. When Couch first came out on tour, he was much like Shafer, kind of wild and just ripped the finger holes out of the ball, and being a lefty, he wanted that extra power as most lefties didn’t have. With resin, Couch didn’t have to have a rev rate of 800, he learned that the balls did majority of the work for him. He was able to do something most lefties during his time on tour couldn’t do. Stand right, and play 4th or 5th arrow with power, throw it left and get it back to the pocket. 16 titles and over $1.7 million in earnings. The only player to ever win the T of C three years in a row. He also is the holder of 25 regional titles. It is a shame that injury to his knees has forced Jason to retire. Whenever Couch would make the show, you knew that he was going to bowl like a power right hander, but from the left side of the lane. I do wish him best with his new career as the national rep for Ebonite on tour. Thank you Jason for making me respect lefties a little more thru the years!!
7) Ryan Shafer- The most UNDERRATED bowler EVER. Now Shafer has been a PBA member for 26 years now, and he didn’t waste anytime to get his name thrown out to the spotlight of the PBA Tour. Shafer made his 1st show in 1987, and made his 1st show at a major in 1988 at the US Open. Shafer came out on tour and had a very odd style where he would pull up at the foul line so much, that I think he did that to give him extra power on the shot so he could get his urethane stuff to hit. Now post urethane, I think resin helped him, and also taught him how to bowl on tour. He got his approach under control, stopped pulling up at the line, and has earned close to $1.7 million in career earnings. He also has reached the TV show 14 times in majors, and still has not been to the winner’s circle in a major. He has 5 2nd place finishes in the majors and is a PBA record for a bowler without a major championship. Shafer some say is a glorified regional player that had some success at the national level. NEGATIVE! Shafer is a fantastic bowler on the national tour, and has just been snake bitten when it comes to the amount of titles. The man I personally think is a hall of famer, even though he doesn’t have the 10 titles that basically guarantees you a spot. Regardless, resin helped Ryan Shafer become the bowler he is today. I really hope that he can win a major before his career is over, if anyone deserves it, it is him!!
6) Steve Jaros- The best “grind bowler” I think I have ever seen. When the lanes would be impossible, you would always see Jaros near the top. Steve has great form, and a soft hand, but sometimes that soft hand means weak pin action, and a soft hand, using urethane was a recipe for disaster. Once reactive came out, Jaros was able to have the trick of a soft hand and not lose any hitting power 60 feet away as the ball never lost that kick thru the pins. Steve won 2 titles with urethane, and the other 5 he has are with resin. A winner of the T of C, Jaros knows how to bowl. And as said earlier, the tougher the pattern, the better Jaros would bowl. A PBA millionaire, a major title winner, and a winner of 42 regional titles, this man has done it all with a bowling ball. I think the combination of getting resin introduced to his game, and him shaving that 1970s style mustache off, really propelled Jaros to become a real force to be reckoned with on the tour.
5) Mike Scroggins- The party at Scroggies is here!! Now I never thought much of Scroggins, but the past few years he really has changed my mind on him. The man does have game, even though he is kind of, what is the word, dull? He is the holder 8 titles on the national tour, and 37 regional wins, not a bad resume. BUT, his 1st title on the national tour was with a blue Nitro in 1992, Scroggins didn’t win again till 2004, 12 years of basically breaking even and being a journeyman. But why did it take him so long to break thru with resin when guys like Parker were superstars in the same time? I don’t know. For a guy that doesn’t do a lot to the ball, that isn’t fancy and make his ball do tricks down the lane, he gets the job done. He has a Masters title, and a US Open win, so yea, he knows how to play. Scroggies being very straight down the lane and with a guy that has a rev rate of probably 200, that is a recipe for weak 7s all day long. Now given the modern advancements of “steroid” balls in bowling, that 7 is getting slapped off the deck. Scroggies also showed that with the decreasing amount of lefties on tour, that the left is not blocked out and that if you can make a shot, repeat it on the left, you can be successful. Mike Scroggins, I applaud you.
4) Brian Voss- Now this one may spark some complaints, BV is #4. Now I know he’s a legend, and so are the top 3 on my list, but Voss with resin was able to just do a little less physically and have the ball do more work for him with resin. Now BV did win 11 titles with urethane, and was the 1988 bowler of the year, he also won the National Championship in 1988, I get that, but if you ever look at the wins that Voss had, each and every win he only had 1 shot, playing up 10 and lofting it thru the heads, very Dave Ferraro and Tony Westlake style. Once the resin rock was put into BV’s hand, he learned to cut the loft out of his game, and to get the ball on the lane earlier, and that hey, I can move 3 left with my feet, and send the ball right, and it will come back to the pocket and carry a corner with not hitting it hard at the bottom, I can do this. Voss went on and won 13 more titles with resin, but was always a factor in the ladder of his career, and still is today in his 50s. BV has won just under $2.5 million in his career, and done it with such a swagger. As Bo Burton called him the Cover Boy of the PBA, BV is a living legend. I had the honor to cross with BV at the US Open in 2007, and to be on the same pair of lanes with him for 18 games, man do I wish I had his game. On a lane condition as brutal as the US Open, he made it look like he was bowling on a house pattern. BV would have been a hall of famer regardless if resin was not invented, but again, I think he would have been limited to the success he would have had as he was kind of 1 dimensional with urethane.
3) Parker Bohn III- The smoothest lefty to ever pick up a ball. I don’t think in the history of the PBA tour that a player had a stretch as good as Parker had from 1997 thru 2002. From a money point of view, he won $977K in that stretch, not bad huh? He made 35 shows in that stretch, and won 16 times. Now Parker did win with urethane, and had a great career forming in the 80s and early 90s, but resin took him from a good touring player to a superstar. 7 titles in the urethane era, and the rest have come with resin. Parker is probably the most accurate bowler ever to bowl on tour. I personally think he would have won around 20 or so titles if resin never came to the table, but he would not have been in the same class as a Mike Aulby IMO. Parker was able to put those Brunswick resin balls in his hand, and play his “A” game, which is throwing it hard and straight from the outside. Now some will say that Parker is only 1 dimensional, and can’t play anywhere else on the lane, or that he wasn’t as good as his numbers say because of his record in majors. Well he did win the Masters, he was a 2nd, and 4th and 5th at the T of C, a 2nd at the US Open, and a 3rd at the World Championship. And to be able to make the show in the majors, you have to be versatile. Parker is fantastic, PERIOD. I have known him personally now for over 15 years, and he’s a great friend. He can still compete out there, so all you people that think his career is over, think again! But resin did help him.
2) Norm Duke- The toughest 5’5 man that I have ever seen. Now Norm did win his first title back in 1983 and was the youngest to win on tour, I get that. Not taking that away from him. HOWEVER, he was in an 8 year title drought from ’83 till he won in 1991, that was the urethane era. He won 1 title in 93 and then in 1994 he broke out. 5 titles, lead the tour in money, won the T of C, and was player of the year. In that year, he should have won 6 titles, but lost in Peoria to Bryan Goebel, oh yea, Duke shot 280 and lost the title, how’s that feel. In 1994, Duke was able to play what was his “A” game back then, slow hook it from 20 to the right. With urethane, he was Mr. Flat 10, but now he had the orange Piranha, the Beast, and Ultimate Weapon, and the ball was able to go longer, store more energy, and snap in the backend and kick the 10 out. In more recent years, Duke has become the “elder statesman” on tour, but is better than the kids. Duke has mastered that right up the back of the ball, throw it up the track no matter what the pattern says shot. Duke is great, but majority of his wins came post 1993, 1 of his 7 majors was with urethane, 27 of his 30 regular titles are with resin, do you think resin helped him? I think so!!
1) Walter Ray Williams- Now I know this is going to stir up some drama, but it doesn’t matter. This is my opinion, and if you ask anyone that has knowledge of this great sport, they will probably agree with me. Now I know what people are thinking, Mike, WRW won BOY in 1986!! That is true, he did, but let’s look at the stats, numbers don’t lie folks, they do not EVER lie. Thru 1991, WRW had won 5 titles. Then 1993 came around, and Ebonite introduced the Nitro/R and Crush/R. And all of a sudden in 1993 the half 10 that WRW could never get out, was kicked out with such vigor thanks to this red Crush/R by Ebonite. From 1993 thru today, thanks to resin, WRW has 42 titles. Walter made his millions by throwing a Crush/R, Nitro/R, and a Danger Zone. Look, I am not the biggest fan of WRW, but I am NOT taking anything away from him. He is great, and I have had the chance to cross with him at a national tour stop, the man is a machine. He looks like a tree at the point of release, but that tree could hit a potato chip crumb on the half board at 52 feet down lane and strike. I am sure some are thinking, hey he won a title using a plastic ball when resin was out. Yes, he did do that. But I say this to you. That tournament in Florida, the gutter was on FIRE. So anyone that throws is straight could have done that. Bottom line, Walter is great and is a legend. I personally think he is the 2nd greatest righty to EVER throw a bowling ball(behind Pete Weber). If resin never came out, Walter would still have been a great player on tour, but not the legend he became. If resin was not introduced, Walter Ray would be trying to catch Pete Weber in career titles and not the other way around.