Pete Weber pushed his first bowling ball down the lane at age 2. His father brought him a specialized ball three years later. Those early days, said Weber, have contributed to his turning in perhaps his most consistent year on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.
Weber, 28, of Florissant, Mo., had a pin fall of 2,837 for an average of 236.42 after 12 games yesterday to lead the second round of the $150,000 Fair Lanes PBA Open at Fair Lanes Kings Point in Randallstown.
Jeff Bellinger, of Columbia, S.C., was second with 2,714. Del Ballard Jr. of Richardson, Texas, was third with 2,710; Robert Lawrence, of Austin, Texas, fourth with 2,691; and Walter Ray Willams Jr. of Stockton, Calif., fifth with 2,667.
"I'm very happy about the way I've been bowling lately, and pretty happy with my performance this morning," Weber said. "I've been in seven tournaments this year and collected seven paychecks. That's never happened before. Usually, I'm three or four of seven."
Weber also is tied with three others for first in match-play appearances this year with five and has earned $16,585, 16th best on the tour.
Weber says he hasn't changed his technique for the 1991 tour. "I just decided to go out and have a better year," he said. "Whenever I decide to go out and make changes in my form, that's when I get in trouble."
Weber learned from one of the best. His father is bowling legend Dick Weber. But he said his father never pushed him to become a professional bowler. It just sort of happened.
"My father owned an alley two miles from my house, and I just kind of hung out there. Plus, the bowling was free," said Weber. "He didn't pressure me, just let me go at my own pace. Then when I was about 10, he turned me loose but he had already taught me the fundamentals.
"I think that any person who wants to be completely knowledgeable of a sport should start at any early age. I started my daughter Nicole Anne dancing at age 3, and now she has about 50 trophys. She is only 9. I just wished my father had started my playing golf earlier."
Weber had a hard time escaping the shadows of his father when he joined the tour 12 years ago. But in 1987, when he won the Firestone Tournament of Champions, a lot of comparisons to his father ended.
With the championship, Weber became the youngest player, 24, in PBA history to win 10 titles. The $50,000 winner's share from the Firestone Tournament put his money total at $733,331, compared with $731,003 for his father. Firestone also was one of the few titles that the elder Weber did not win.
"Still, my father, mother and fiancee were and are the most influential people in my life," said Weber. "I still call my father to let him know how I did after a tournament, and once in a while he'll watch me bowl if the tournament is not too far away from home."
The elder Weber would have been impressed yesterday by a performance Pete said he wants to improve on.
"There are some outstanding bowlers here, and the favorites are guys like Amieto Monacelli and Randy Pedersen," said Weber. "I just hope to continue bowling as well as I have."
NOTE: Three players, including Ballard and Bellinger, bowled 300 games yesterday. The other was Ken Johnson.