McCune, of course, had a head start, and Pappas says, "He's worked it to a science." In 1971 McCune made $16,990 on the tour and in 1972 $23,828. So far this year, with the fall tour still to come, he leads the PBA with $61,055.
But even with earnings like that the soaked ball is not the only lane to bowling riches. For one thing, it does not seem to work too well for southpaws, who comprise fewer than 10% of professional bowlers. Their side of the lanes is less worn down and more oily—not so good for a really soft ball. The winner two weeks ago at Oklahoma City, which ended the summer tour, was a lefty, Earl Anthony. He used one of the new Columbia soft balls, not a soaker, but he says, "I think I would have won with a regular ball. I never soaked a ball, but I suppose you just get a bucketful of chemicals." Right.
So that is how it all washes out. Most of the pro bowlers are soaking now, and it appears that the level of scores is rising. But the novelty is over. Soon, even with the use of solvents, the professional tour will again be evenly competitive and skill, not solvents, will once more be paramount. As one soaker says, "The soft ball magnifies everything. It makes everyone a little better, but it won't make a superstar of a bad bowler. Even if we throw oranges and apples down the lanes the good bowlers are still gonna win."