1 ABC championship (1905-AE)
First ABC Tournament Classic Division Team Champions (1961)
With a victory in the World’s Invitational Tournament and the top spot on the PBA money-list, Carter was elected Bowler of the Year a record sixth time.
1. Don Carter, St. Louis . . . . . . . . 776
2. Dick Weber, St. Louis . . . . . . . 659
3. Billy Golembiewski, Detroit . . . . 575
4. Ray Bluth, St. Louis . . . . . . . . . 466
5. Joe Joseph, Detroit . . . . . . . . . 406
6. Dick Hoover, St. Louis . . . . . . . 375
7. Harry Smith, St. Louis . . . . . . . 322
8. Glenn Allison, Chicago . . . . . . . 230
9. Billy Welu, St. Louis . . . . . . . . . 152
10. Don Ellis, Houston . . . . . . . . . . 82
The poster told the story. Bill Shaul was coming!
There was a picture of a blading, 60-ish gent in glasses, with a cheery grin on his face. The text went on, in that breathless style of the 1940s, to notify all present that Bill Shaul would appear in this very bowling establishment! He would be available to give instruction, to fit bowling balls, to explain the Shaul Method of Spare-Making—for one week only! His engagement was being sponsored by Ebonite, as the company’s “contribution to better bowling.”
For over two decades, Bill Shaul roamed America with his one-man bowling medicine show. He was a promoter and a pioneer. In the long history of tenpins, he was the first truly professional instructor.
Born in Brooklyn in 1883, Shaul learned bowling as a pinboy. His first ambition was to be an opera singer. After touring with some traveling companies, he landed a baritone spot at the Boston Opera. Then he took a few years out to study for the ministry, followed by a stint running the music program at a Vermont school.
Always there was bowling. In 1923 Shaul settled in Syracuse, opening his own lanes. A good but not great bowler, he finished as high as third place in the ABC Singles and also competed in the 1929 International Tournament in Sweden.
Meanwhile, to lure more patrons to his lanes, Shaul began giving lessons. His success convinced him he could earn a living as a full-time, traveling instructor.
Teaching bowling was something new. Jimmy Smith, Floretta McCutcheon, Joe Falcaro, and a few others were already on tour, rolling exhibition matches, doing trick shots, and giving a few pointers. But as star performers, they concentrated on showing off their skills, with any instruction an afterthought. A novice who came to Smith for a lesson might spend the whole time watching Jimmy demonstrate how it was done, without getting to roll a shot himself.
Shaul shifted the emphasis. He didn’t care whether he impressed his students, only that they learn something useful. When he ran a clinic he was not selling Bill Shaul; he was selling the game.
Ebonite signed him in 1936 and his tours went nationwide. Besides bowling centers, Shaul appeared in theatres, school auditoriums, department stores, and military bases. In Cleveland he gave demonstrations for 24,000 high school students. He taught blind veterans to roll the ball straight ahead by having them mimic the military salute. He appeared on the first-ever bowling telecast.
His shows were always entertaining. Shaul traveled with the latest high-tech graphic devices—which meant a chalkboard, flip charts, and colored bowling pins. At the start of each session, he distributed copies of his booklet Better Bowling: How It’s Done. During his first year with Ebonite, he ran through 1.2 million of them.
His theories were the simple, meat-and-potatoes of bowling that would nourish generations of new players—squared shoulders, natural speed, pendulum armswing, uniform delivery. His spare-making method was basically aiming cross-alley and turning your body toward the target. All standard stuff today. But that’s because Shaul spread his message so widely.
He died in 1955, on the eve of the great bowling boom he’d helped usher in. Of all the million-plus people he had worked with, the gentle Shaul had mostly fond memories. However, he did relish telling the story of a heckler who’d confronted him in Columbus, Ohio.
He was moving through his presentation when a guy in the front row piped up, “I can do that!” This happened several times—Shaul would make a point, and the loudmouth would shout, “I can do that!”
Finally Shaul stopped and told the audience he had just been reminded of something from his opera days. With that he opened his mouth wide and emitted an ear-piercing yodel, a 30-second, three-octave, virtuoso performance.
Then he turned to the heckler, smiled sweetly and asked, “Can you do that?”
First published in Bowlers Journal in June 1994.