Top 10 Bowlers Hurt By Reactive Resin

By Mike Valanzano

The great sport of bowling has gone thru many, many changes over the years. From pin boys, to the automatic pinsetter. Lacquer lanes, to wood lanes, to synthetic lanes. Rubber balls with 2 holes, to 3 holes with plastic, to reactive resin, to particle balls, bowling has had many face lifts thru the years. Like any other sport, you have to adapt to the times and roll with the changes, but that is not to say that people haven’t struggled with those changes. Bowling is probably the most effected sport out there when it comes to equipment. Look at a timeline of bowling. Rubber bowling balls, Don Carter and Dick Weber were kings of the bowling world. Plastic bowling balls were introduced in the 70s, and Earl Anthony and Mark Roth ruled the game. Urethane hit the market in the 80s and early 90s, Pete Weber and Del Ballard were the head honchos on tour. Resin came along and Walter Ray made a career out of playing 10 board and snapping the 10pin out and became the most successful player EVER to bowl on the PBA Tour. So now I asked myself this, and I like to have these debates with people. Who were the guys that resin hurt the most? I have a list of ten players that I feel when reactive resin was introduced to the bowling world, that they basically were given a pink slip from professional bowling. Now I am not saying these guys were only 1 dimensional, and could only win with urethane, BUT resin did not help their case as the sport advanced further. Here we go!!

10) Joe Berardi-  11 time titlist, 2 time major winner at the US Open and the Firestone, also has an ABC Masters to his title. A member of the hall of fame, Joe has the mentality of a typical New Yorker, tough as nails, and was probably that tough from his background of bowling action in Brooklyn. Joe liked to throw it hard and straight, so the problem of kicking the weak 10 out for Joey B never was an issue. He could over power a lane that was on fire. The man never missed a spare either. But once resin was introduced, he was basically dead in the water. Joe stopped touring once resin was introduced, and to be frank, he hasn’t been heard of since the early 90s. What a shame, the guy had a great personality, and a fantastic game. I would love to see him try to reinvent his game and hit the senior tour.

9&8) Dave Ferraro and Tony Westlake-What hurt Westlake and Ferraro was their loft on the ball. Unless you’re using loft to get across the gutter cap and trick the condition, then loft is usually a disadvantage because of the way a resin ball will dig into the lane causing it to change direction quicker. Westlake and Ferraro were both straighter players with loft, thus making it harder for them to keep the ball on line. Not that it was an everyday, every condition problem, but it did hamper them more than help them. They were also both deadly accurate and, at the time, that advantage was taken away also for the most part. It wasn’t until some of the new patterns were developed that accuracy made a small comeback. Don’t get me wrong, on many of the patterns it’s still about opening up “area”, but accuracy, too me, can also reflect the ability to control speed, rev rate, and other factors.

7) Chris Warren- Was there ever anyone in the history of the PBA that was as thin as Chris Warren that could get on it as much as he could? I don’t think so. Warren weighed about 120lbs soaking wet, but he had a hand on him that you would think a 250lb man had. Chris is the holder of 6 titles and 1 major, the 1990 ABC Masters. Chris was a staple on the tour in the late 80s and early 90s. He is another guy that could hook it on anything. He could over power a lane, and keep getting deeper and deeper when he had to get to that point. The deeper he went, the harder his ball hit. Prior to 2007, his last TV show was 12  years before in 1995. Thank you resin. Resin again ended the career of someone that had a really promising and bright future ahead of them on tour. Yes he is now exempt, but it took him almost 20 years to learn and change his game to work with the resin bowling balls. I do hope Chris Warren can get back into the winner’s circle 1 more time.

6) Mark Roth- Now how can someone with 34 career titles be on this list? Well it is quite simple. Roth changed this game when he showed the world how to hook it with plastic, nobody was better than Roth in the 70s. Urethane didn’t really help Roth either, but he adapted and won 1 title in Buffalo and made a couple of shows with those Rhinos. Once resin came out, Roth was done. The balls were too strong for his release and power. But Mike, didn’t Roth win in 1995 with resin? Yes he did, but that was 1 show post urethane. Mike, didn’t Roth make a show in 1998 with resin? Yes, made a show, and lost in the 1st match. By the time resin hit the market, the game had passed Roth by and he was a dead duck. When he won in Canada in 1995, he had the best look on the show, he was able to spin that violet Quantum up around 12 or so had some bump, and had the nut. When he made the show in ’98 in Peoria, he was trying to play inside, he was slow, feet were the slowest I ever saw him have in his career, timing was off, and was missing spares, which was very unlike Roth. Yea he won a couple of senior titles with resin, but let’s face facts, resin would have put Roth in retirement.

5) Ron Palombi- I am going to put Palombi in the same class as Berardi, Ferraro, and Westlake. Hard and straight, and liked to loft it, that was Ron’s “A” game. A 6 time titlist on tour, Ron knew how to win. 1st title in 1984, he went on to win the PBA National and the US Open. All of his wins came in the urethane era. Resin hurt his game, because just like Ferraro and Westlake, now having to not loft it, and getting the ball to roll sooner, he was at a huge disadvantage. He also was very accurate, but now the ball gave him an extra board or two to miss by, and with his speed and hand, he could not keep resin on line. Ron Palombi could have been a 20 time winner if resin was never introduced to the sport. A natural talent, a nice guy, and what a shame that resin ended his career.

4) Steve Cook- When I think of lefties in the 80s, only 2 men come to mind. Mike Aulby and Steve Cook. Doubles partners, brothers in law, they were the top 2 guys from the left side of the lane during the urethane era. Cook was by far the biggest bowler on tour at that time, 6’7, 270lbs, a bowling ball in his hands looked like a soda can. 15 career titles, 3 majors, he was the 1st lefty to “get on it”. He would throw it hard, and rip the finger holes out of the ball. The typical lefties back in the urethane day, Aulby, Devers, Bohn, Salvemini, they were all soft and played the track. Cook was always right of them, and making the ball do a u-turn in the backend. Cook was probably the 1st bowler that I can remember to send messengers across the deck. Once resin came in, all the tricks that Steve Cook had up his sleeve were now put in his hand. And that was the demise of Steve Cook. What a talent he was though. I remember Cook on a show in the early 90s in Cleveland, he was banking a pear blue Hammer off the gutter on the left lane, and playing 20 with a red pearl Hammer on the right lane and made it look SO easy. Myself being a big guy standing nearly 6’3 always wanted to have a game like Cook. I wish he would make a run at the Senior Tour soon!!

3) Marshall Holman- The 1987 Player of the Year. Holder of 22 career titles, over $1 million in earnings, and was the king of the U-Dot and Wine U-Dot. Marshall broke onto the scene in the mid 70s, and won the Firestone in 1976, using plastic of course. Marshall, like Roth, had power and that spin release that would give his ball just enough pop not to hydroplane down the lane and actually grip the lane and drive thru the deck. He is the holder of 2 US Open titles, and 2 Firestone’s. He also has a 2nd place finish at the 1988 US Open, who beat him… Mr. Urethane, Pete Weber. Marshall made a couple of shows when resin came out, and even won his 22nd and final title using resin against Wayne Webb in 1997, Marshall used a red Pulse on that show in Detroit. Since that show, Marshall competed in a few other events, but you never would see his name on the leader board. The game past him by. In the 80s, when you would put on ABC on Saturday afternoon at 3pm, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Marshall in the Top 5. One of the fiercest bowlers to ever hit the lanes, and without a doubt, one of the most if not the most animated bowlers ever on tour.

2) Pete Weber- Weber is by far the greatest right handed bowler EVER to throw a ball. The most natural talent that has EVER laced up a pair of shoes. Pete broke onto the scene in the early 80s using plastic, and as urethane evolved, so did Weber. Pete had the trick that nobody else had. He could get the ball going right, snap in the back, and kick the 10 out, where others were leaving a half 10. Up until resin was invented, Pete had won 18 titles, and already had the “Triple Crown” under his belt. Now yes, Pete did have some off the lanes issues he had to deal with, but that did not have anything to do w/his struggles on the lanes. He had 18 career titles in 10 years of bowling on tour, with over a million in earnings. If resin was never invented, today, Weber could  have had over 70 titles, PERIOD! He was that good with urethane. Whether it was a Blue Angle, Black Angle, Angle Plus, Hammers, Bobcat, it did not matter. Weber had something nobody else in the urethane era had. Now granted, Pete had to totally switch his game to deal with resin, and he adapted pretty well to resin, as his career numbers show. But I still ask myself, what if resin was never invented, and the PBA had 30 stops a year, could Pete have hit 100 career titles? In my opinion, yes, and he is the best bowler to EVER throw a ball…. PERIOD.

1) Del Ballard- Delmus, Baldo, Del, etc… Del is a 13 time titlist on the tour, and is the owner of a Firestone, 2 US Open’s, and a Masters crown. Del was the 1st player in PBA history to win 6 figures for first place, the 1987 US Open, which was his 1st career title(Little trivia, who did he beat for that title? Answer will be revealed at the end). Del could hook it on ice with urethane. Everyone’s favorite memory of Delmus had to be him throwing it in the ditch to lose a title against….. hmm same player he beat in 87 for the Us Open(Figure out who it is yet?). My favorite memory of Del are as follows, I have 2 actually. First memory is the 1990 Firestone. The top 5 were Mark Baker, Don Genalo, Del, Tony Westlake, and Dave Ferraro. 4 of the 5 finalist were playing the track or right of the track area. Del was in to about 20 or so swinging a pink hammer to the ditch and back. Amazing. My 2nd favorite Del memory was at the 1993 US Open. He was throwing a Champions Ultimate Weapon, the ball was sandblasted, and playing fallback from the 6th arrow, it was incredible. Del won all of his titles using urethane, and sorry to say never won a title using resin. Once resin came out, he could not adapt to continue the level of success he had in the 80s. I personally think Del has probably benefited more from the invention of resin as he has been the national ball rep on tour for Ebonite and Storm. He is a genius of this game, and knows more about this game than most. How many titles would Del have if resin never came out? This guy says he would probably be 2nd on that list behind Weber…. Oh yea, and answer to the trivia question. He beat Weber at the 87 US Open, and then threw the gutter against him as well. Just to give you an idea of how good these guys were with urethane. If it was never invented, they probably would be the top two title holders in PBA history.

That is my list, what is yours? I always look for comments on my lists, so bring them on!! And since this is the top 10 that got screwed by the invention of resin, stay tuned for my next article. Top 10 that benefited by the invention of resin. And by reading this, I think you all know who I am going to put as my #1….

Mike Valanzano, 29 from NJ. Bowled for Morehead State University and has competed and had success at all levels of this game, he is the holder of 21 300 games, 10 800 series, with a  high of 856 (with an open frame).   Mike is married to his wonderful wife Lynda and have a baby girl, Daniella.  Some of Mike’s interests, he’s a HUGE New York Mets fan, he loves poker, traveling, and fine dining.  He is also a big advocate of zumba classes.  Mike has one of the largest video collections of old bowling shows anywhere.  He has every amateur bowling show ever aired and has a wide collection of numerous PBA, Sr PBA, LPBT shows from the 1950’s thru today.