Billy Welu

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William Joseph "Billy" Welu (July 3, 1932 in Houston, Texas – May 16, 1974) was a famous professional bowler, executive for the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), bowling broadcaster, and a great ambassador for the sport. A founding member of the PBA, he won four PBA titles, including two ABC Masters championships. He was only the second bowler in history to successfully defend an ABC/USBC Masters title, winning the event in 1964 and 1965 to join Dick Hoover (1956-57).[1] The feat was not matched again until Jason Belmonte won back-to-back Masters titles in 2013-14.[2]

Besides his two Masters titles, Welu also won the 1958-59 All-Star, four ABC championships, and two PBA titles. He was named an All-American seven times. The 1999 Bowlers Journal ranking of 20th Century bowlers rated him #22.

Known for his folksy midwestern speech pattern and easygoing personality, Welu spent several years as an analyst alongside legendary broadcaster Chris Schenkel on ABC's Saturday afternoon telecasts of the Professional Bowlers Tour. He was posthumously inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975.[3]

Welu's death of a heart attack at age 41 in 1974, which took a major toll on his close friend Schenkel, prompted ABC to find a new color commentator to join Schenkel in the booth. This was during a time when bowling was wildly popular and garnered very high ratings on television. Dick Weber and Dave Davis alternated telecasts for a brief period until Nelson Burton Jr. was selected as a permanent analyst. Nelson and Chris spent nearly 23 years together calling the action for ABC Sports.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Randy Pedersen on ESPN broadcast of the USBC Masters final, February 15, 2009
  2. ^ Jason Belmonte Becomes First Player in Nearly 50 Years to Successfully Defend USBC Masters Title Schneider, Jerry at pba.com on 23 February 2014.
  3. ^ Hall of Fame bios at www.pba.com, official website of the Professional Bowlers Association and Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour