In 1971 Anthony set another of his records by rolling 42 consecutive 200 games. This year he has had four 300s and has finished among the top five in 15 tournaments. And during his five years on the PBA tour he has compiled the highest per-game average (214.7) and has amassed earnings of $243,263.
No one is more impressed by these accomplishments than Dick Weber, alltime leader in PBA titles with 24 in 15 years. He is well aware that Anthony has already won more than half that total (13, plus one regional championship) in one-third the time. "He has the greatest change of speeds of any bowler of any era," says Weber.
Changing speeds is not a tactic limited to baseball pitchers; it is one of the most intricate and demanding aspects of bowling. What makes it so vital are the constantly changing lane conditions. Essentially, there are two underlying causes for these fluctuations: the oil used to dress the lanes and the tracks worn into the alleys by bowling balls. As a day's competition progresses, oil is dissipated by lane usage and evaporation, and bowling balls do not skid as much before breaking toward the pocket. To compensate, bowlers must adjust the angle from which they shoot and the speed with which they throw.
Anthony explains: "If the ball breaks early, you go through the middle of the headpin. If it breaks late, you get a washout [leaving the headpin and generally getting a 1-3-6-7 split] or a bucket [just hitting the headpin and often leaving the 3-5-6-9 pins]."
Oddly, the lack of a good change-up may well have kept Anthony from becoming a pro baseball player. "The Dodgers scouted me in 1959 when I pitched in the Air Force, and I saw their report," he recalls. "It said, 'Good fastball, fair curve, bad change-up.' "
When he was mustered out of the Air Force he went to spring training with Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League, where he was impressive enough to rate an offer from the Baltimore Orioles and a chance to play Class B ball. "I really wanted to play baseball, but there was very little money involved, and I had a family to think about," he says. "So I turned down the offer, went home to Ta-coma and took a job with a wholesale grocery outfit."
Working for West Coast Grocery turned out to be more than handling canned goods. During his first year the company began a bowling league and Anthony was in business. "It was during my second year of bowling that the bug bit me," he says. "I found the way to really learn to bowl was to compete against guys who were better than me and to get into pot games where the money was on the line. Sometimes I'd lose $40 or $50 a day, which was a lot for a workingman. But that's paying your dues." By 1963 Anthony figured he had learned enough to give the PBA tour a fling, and he used his vacation to compete in three tournaments. "I didn't make a dollar, but it wasn't time wasted," he says.
Back in Tacoma, Anthony practiced hard, sometimes rolling 200 games a week. More and more often he won pot money. One night he took three straight winner-take-all matches, after which the rest of the bowlers in the group quit.
Soon Anthony was obliged to quit himself. Faced with the prospect of having to switch to the 2:30 p.m.-to-10:30 p.m. work shift he decided to join the PBA tour. "If I had worked those hours I would never have seen my children," he says.
In January 1970 Anthony hit the PBA trail, striking fear into the heart of no one with his expressionless face and drab dress. But in his very first tournament the 6'1", 185-pound grocery-man captured second place. Goodby forever to Wheaties and canned peas.