Best All Time Bowler
Don Carter is the best all time bowler. The self-proclaimed “first million dollar bowler” landed a million dollar endorsement deal from a bowling ball manufacturer. It wasn’t just his charm that got him the big deal, it was what he could do with the bowling ball. In 1970 he was named the “Greatest Bowler in History” by a magazine for bowling fans. That same year, Carter was inducted into the Hall Of Fame of the U.S. Bowling Congress.
Donald Carter was born in St. Louis in 1926. His mother encouraged him to bowl. He played football and baseball in high school and joined the U.S. Navy. After the Navy he tried his hand at professional baseball but wasn’t successful at it. He has said that he bowled because he loved it. When he started, you sure couldn’t make any money at it. He was a founding member of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) and went on to win seven PBA titles. He became a member of the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975.
Carter had a unique form when he bowled. Perhaps that was what made him the best all time bowler. He kept his elbow bent on the backswing. It was a bad knee that caused him to take early retirement.
The 50s were Carter’s heyday. He was bowler of the year six times and promoted the game in a tireless manner. In 1958, he shared his skill in his book called “10 Secrets of Bowling.” His bowling was televised many times included on a game show that required make a spare in bowling.
In 1964, Carter signed a deal with Ebonite for an unheard of at that time $1,000,000. It was not just bowling that hadn’t seen this kind of money. Other sports were lagging behind this amount. Golfer Arnold Palmer had a $5,000 deal and football’s Joe Namath used a Schick razor for $10,000. Carter even endorsed Palmolive dish detergent and Wonder Bread. Even today, that would be a lot of money. He was the first athlete to reach this level of corporate sponsorship.
Don Carter focused on something he loved doing and built a career around it. He built up his sport, took a role on its governing board, and promoted it whenever he could. That is the mark of a true sportsmen and is another reason that he is the top bowler in the history of this fast-growing sport.
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