From time to time, even some of the greatest and most prolific heroes in all of sports fall through the cracks of obscurity and are lost to the world at large. Legends of the Periphery celebrates the best of the best among the forgotten, the bizarre, the esoteric, and the obscure.
If Christopher Nolan’s Batman series has taught us anything it’s that heroes can at times be dark, conflicted, polarizing figures. They can be so driven and single-minded that it may even appear that they are themselves villains.
Such is the case with pro bowling’s Pete Weber.
Weber is a unique type of competitor; not unlike fellow L.O.P. inductee Billy Mitchell, his pursuit of perfection is matched only by his confidence and cocky, bad boy attitude. Get in Weber’s way and he’ll straight-up run you down. In a sport filled with a seemingly endless roster of run-of-the-mill average Joes, Pete Weber is anything but.
Born Aug. 21, 1962, in St. Ann, Missouri, Weber was the son of legendary bowler Dick Weber. Introduced to the game of bowling at a young age, Weber was defeating adults as a teen before he broke into the Professional Bowlers Association as a 17-year-old.
In 1980, Weber won the PBA Rookie of the Year award, setting the stage to win a total of 10 PBA titles within the next six years – the youngest player to achieve such a goal. By the age of 26, Weber had claimed his first PBA national championship, making him a bona fide PBA triple crown winner, having won the U.S. Open, the Tournament of Champions and the PBA National Championship.
Pistol Pete’s rocket-like ascension to the top of the bowling world, however, didn’t come without its share of hardships. Despite a staggering amount of earnings and professional titles Weber would soon face his darkest days in the 1990s. By ’95 Weber had gone through his second of two divorces and was mired in a stretch that saw arguably the worst bowling of his career, going three consecutive seasons without winning a single title. Adding to Weber’s woes was the fact that his classic in-your-face demeanor hadn’t exactly won him many friends within the ranks of the PBA; many thought his antics were unsportsmanlike and, at worse, offensive to the players and fans.
The new millennium brought with it a ray of hope for Weber, though, as the PBA Tour was purchased by a group a former Microsoft executives who were very much eager to showcase the various personalities of the professional bowling world. And in the realm of bowling personalities, Pete Weber was the unquestioned king.
“The new PBA has told me to be animated, and I was already animated to begin with. The new PBA likes me, likes my antics. They think that’s what’s going to sell the PBA,” Weber told USA Today.
Under the new ownership of the PBA Weber flourished like never before. By this point in his career Weber had begun wearing his now trademark sunglasses to every competition. According to Weber, the glasses were a means to block out the glaring lights of the television crews but they only added to his larger-than-life persona that now included signature crotch chops (a mimed gesture of the WWE “suck it” catchphrase) and a golf glove he wore on his dominant bowling hand. By his own admission, Weber is a massive pro-wrestling fan, going so far as to have his favourite wrestler Triple H’s ring entrance music play following a strike or spare on television appearances.
By 2004, Weber had regained much of his professional stride (preceded by a major title win in 1998 and a Hall of Fame induction in the same year) when he won what would be the first of three PBA U.S. Open major titles in the next decade.
With the most recent of these U.S. Open titles, coming in 2012, Weber managed to fully transcend the world of bowling when his exuberance for the win caught the eye of many television viewers, then SportsCenter viewers, then YouTube viewers, now totaling well over 900,000 views for the uploaded video entitled, “PETE WEBER GOD DAMMIT I DID IT WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE” since February of this year.
In the now infamous video, which chronicles Weber’s record-breaking fifth U.S. Open title, the prolific bowler knocks down a game-clinching strike and then promptly losses his shit, screaming “That is right, I did it! Are you kidding me?! That’s right! Who do you think you are?! I am! Damn it, right!”
Thirty-six total titles and counting for one of the greatest bowlers of all time. As always, classic Weber.