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Bowling Great Barry Asher


bowlingball.com continues our series of Editorial articles with this special tribute to Barry Asher. This famous PBA Hall of Fame Champion and his special career are well documented but I wish to share my own additional insight about my close personal friend. In speaking with Barry, he indicated he would be happy to respond to questions I posed to him so, in turn, bowlingball.com can share with you an inside look at bowling great Barry Asher.

First let's examine bowling great Barry Asher and his Hall of Fame career credentials with the PBA. Asher, Costa Mesa, CA, was a junior protege of the late Billy Welu and came on the Tour while a college freshman to win two tournaments in 1966. He set a PBA scoring record that stood for 10 years when he averaged 247 in winning the 1971 South Bend (Ind.) Open using a rubber bowling ball, by the way. The right-hander was runner-up in the 1973 and '75 Tournament of Champions after claiming the top-seeded position both years. In his final year on tour in 1976, he collected his 10th career National Tour title in the Tucson Open.

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Many remember Barry as among the very best players on Tour during his relatively brief career event wise. Barry's winning ratio in comparison to events entered during his ten year competitive span on tour ranks among the very elite players of all time. If the lane condition called for an "inside angle" to the pocket, fourth or fifth arrows for example, Barry was regarded in the top three most feared players on tour joined by the late Don Johnson and Jim Godman.

Power player Barry Asher could make the ball roll extremely strong and hit the pins very hard without help from modern bowling ball equipment. Barry is best remembered for his super release and the use of his strong legs to gain maximum leverage when delivering the bowling ball and for maintaining great balance with outstanding footwork.

Barry always dressed well and with a stylish flare for contemporary clothing as was evidenced in the late 1960's and early 1970's when Barry would wear his full length seal fur coat for evening sessions at National Tour events. In fact, in the onset of the 1971 PBA Winter Tour, Barry made the top 5 TV telecasts three consecutive weeks and memorably dressed with a vest suit he wore during competition on camera. Barry was a trend setter and just to set the record straight, Barry was the first player to wear sunglasses on TV five years before Ernie Schlegel was credited for having done so.

Barry had class, style, and could bowl great on a variety of challenging lane conditions. His record per event bowled serves as the basis for Barry being named to the top 50 players of all time on the PBA Tour. A member of the All-American Bowling Team multiple times, Barry is also a USBC Hall of Fame player elected in the late 1990's among other bowling honors in his native Southern California.

As you might expect, Barry is a dedicated family man and is an excellent provider. Barry is married to Christy Asher and has two children, daughter Kelsey and son Rob. Owning and operating two businesses in Southern CA, Barry remains highly visible to the public and is often found on the lanes coaching local bowlers with friend and PBA Champion, Mark Baker. To gain more insight into the thinking of this Hall of Fame bowling star, I asked Barry a series of eight questions and here are Barry's reply remarks below:

Rich: Everyone knows you made it to the PBA and ABC Halls of Fame, but how did it feel personally when you were announced as a top 50 all-time great player of the PBA a couple of years ago?

Barry: Named as the No. 47 player, I was very surprised…..the committee looked deeply into my accomplishments versus the number of tournaments bowled. Obviously, I was elated to receive the news plus the PBA paid for it and that made it even better. lol

Rich: Who were three or four of the best players you have ever seen and why?

Barry: Don Johnson at the top….simply the best in my era…had biggest heart under pressure and was most versatile as well as the nicest guy on tour. Next, Mark Roth – Mark did everything right without looking pretty. The best bowlers have the best swings and Mark had the best swing – that’s it, that’s all of it. Next, Dick Weber – in his prime, Dick was clearly dominant. Next would be Marshall Holman and Pete Weber because they were so fluid. Earl Anthony was great because he would sneak up on you and just beat you. I put Walter Ray and Earl together - I won’t rate one over the other and I must say it was not fun to watch these because they certainly were doomsday stroking machines.

Rich: In a previous article we posted at bowlingball.com, we addressed the topic “Are bowling scores too high?” What is your opinion?

Barry: When someone 60 years plus in age who are 180 average bowlers can average 215, yeah, sure, the scores are too high. There are simply too many 900 series bowled. Bo Burton shot 869 once but he was more accurate than anyone I had ever seen. Yes, scores are too high for a combination of reasons – pins, bowling balls, and easy lane conditions to hit the pocket.

Rich: Since you have a retail business in a bowling center and one outside a bowling center in Southern California, what can proprietors do to better promote the game?

Barry: One of my businesses is in a center which allows me to promote the game with clinics conducted by Mark Baker and I am given reduced prices on lineage to make it affordable for bowlers to practice and work on their games. Reduced lineage helps to allow pro shops to conduct clinics by giving them lanes for an hour or two and so two competent coaches can work with local bowlers. It is simple, if bowlers don’t improve, they will quit the game and we lose them.

Rich: What suggestions might you have to help Youth bowling programs improve?

Barry: Need to pound the pavement, visit schools, need volunteers to work junior programs, organize leagues, travel with kids to various tournament events. We need to encourage JBT and teen tournaments in general as well as also promoting high school bowling leagues. We must promote Junior Gold programs from within the structure of the bowling centers.

Rich: Who are the bowlers in the PBA today you most enjoy watching perform?

Barry: Chris Barnes is my favorite - I know how much effort he puts into the game and he has great balance. I love to watch Tommy Jones – Tommy and Chris each has different timing sequences but both get the results and get to the right spot at the right moment to release the ball. Bill O’ Neill is getting better and better over time and will be the next star player if the PBA has enough time. Mark Baker stated said to me that the “only thing Bill needs to do over the next ten years is to not miss his turn.”

Rich: Please give us one of your best tips for our bowlingball.com customers on physical game techniques.

Barry: First movement of the bowling ball is critical by pushing the ball away “like you are handing it to a little child” to make the movement as smooth as possible. Push the ball from your shoulder without letting your shoulder follow the ball outward.

Rich: Barry, you told me recently you have bowled nine consecutive 700+ series in league this summer season, do you have any tips for men and women senior bowlers to remain competitive after the age 60 and beyond?

Barry: Two things, attend coaching clinics and practice. Also, perhaps trying a lighter ball, maybe 14 or 15 lbs. as opposed to 16 lbs. Don’t over spend by buying a $250 ball when a ball priced between $150 - $180 range are really good and will save you money.


Barry Asher was certainly a great tour player but for my money, he is an even better friend. Barry always has time to speak with people and always has time for his family and friends. It has been my privilege over the years to know Barry. Hail to the Champion!

Barry Asher asked me to express his appreciation to you community visitors for taking valuable time in reading this article and he hopes and wishes each of you good health, happiness, and enjoy much success on the lanes. Everyone at bowlingball.com wishes you the same.

Rich Carrubba
bowlingball.com






 



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