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BowlingOldies

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I was doing some research earlier into pro bowlers who played other sports (which might be a subject for another time, but for now, my question deals with something entirely different).  In my search, I happened to look at the Wikipedia entry for Dave Davis, who many of you will recall as the tall, skinny left-hander who was one of the true up-and-comers on tour and might have blossomed into the greatest left-hander in history if Earl Anthony hadn't come along a few years later.

Davis' Wiki entry included an interesting item.  It said that he worked the broadcast booth in 1974 following the death of Chris Schenkel's broadcasting partner Billy Welu, and mentioned that he (Davis) shared duties as the color analyst on the PBA telecasts with Dick Weber until Bo Burton was hired in 1975.

I do not remember Dave Davis filling the role of color commentator on the ABC-TV series known as Pro Bowlers Tour.  I do recall that he was the color announcer on CBS telecasts of the PBA's Summer Tour in the late 1970s with play-by-play announcer Frank Glieber.  But I don't recall Davis being on ABC with Schenkel.

Billy Welu died on May 16, 1974, a little over a month after the 1974 Firestone Tournament of Champions, which would have been ABC-TV's final bowling telecast of the year.  I do not recall there being a rotating group of color announcers doing the ABC telecast prior to Bo Burton being added as the permanent color commentator.  I remember him being added to the telecasts as the regular color analyst at the start of the 1975 season.

Yet as I watch the telecast of the 1975 King Louie Open, I hear Dick Weber doing color.  Yet Bo Burton was not one of the players who made the top 5 to qualify to bowl on the show (nor was he the alternate).  He just wasn't on the show at all either as a bowler or as the color announcer.

So here's my question:  Who can recall the sequence here?  Did Bo Burton not join the telecast starting in 1975 like I thought he did?  Or did ABC use Dick Weber (and perhaps Dave Davis and maybe some other group of players in a rotation, perhaps including Bo Burton) during the '75 season as a series of live, on-air "auditions" to identify the one guy they would offer the job to as the regular color commentator starting in '76?  And did Bo Burton not actually start until 1976 as the regular announcer?

And are there any other 1975 Pro Bowlers Tour telecasts floating around out there in the collectors' universe (besides the King Louie Open) to help solve this mystery?  Furthermore, if that's the case, I wonder if the 1976 ARC Alameda Open telecast is anywhere to be found, as it would be the one in which Bo Burton is introduced as the new "permanent" color announcer.

Dare

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Reply with quote  #2 
I don't remember Davis as a announcer but I remember Dick Weber filling in before
Burton was hired.Weber imo wasn't all that great at adding color to the telecast...
Burton on the other hand was a natural.

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themrfreeze

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Reply with quote  #3 
Irishpogi just uploaded another old Championship Bowling video from 1965 where Bo sat in as a guest color commentator.  Even back then, you could see that he had a knack for doing it:



If nothing else, fast-forward to 48:40 to hear what Fred Wolf (the announcer) had to say about Bo's job.



BowlingOldies

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"Nellie" was very nervous on this Championship Bowling episode.  And with Fred Wolf, you could barely get a word in edgewise.  Wolf was used to working alone, and like gas, he could expand to fill any space.  Still, I loved Fred Wolf.  He was the gold standard of bowling announcers until Chris Schenkel came along.

As for Bo Burton being a "natural," I have to say he certainly grew into the job of color commentator.  But for years after getting the job on ABC, he was tentative, constantly mangled the language, misused words and stumbled over his own tongue.  I cut him some slack for that, as I have done play-by-play for television and radio before, and I can say first hand that it takes some getting used to in order to learn how to talk while at the same time a director is barking instructions in your ear piece.  But despite a very rocky start, I have to give it up to Bo.  He not only became one of the great color announcers in all of sports television, he also sat in for Schenkel, and in the style of Fred Wolf, did the whole show by himself once when Schenkel's flight got snowed in and he couldn't make the show.  Bo carried it entirely on his own shoulders and did a remarkable job.  There are very few color announcers in sports television who have made the transition to the play-by-play chair.  The best of the best was Pat Summerall, the greatest play-by-play man in television sports history.  Mike Durbin made the transition in bowling television.  And while Bo Burton only did it once, he did such a good job that I have no doubt he could have slid right into Schenkel's chair permanently if Schenkel had called it quits sooner and Bo would have done just fine.  That's high praise from someone like me who's spent 40+ years in broadcasting and has seen 'em come and go.

themrfreeze

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Reply with quote  #5 
Which telecast was the one where Bo did it solo?  I'd love to watch it.

BowlingOldies

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Reply with quote  #6 
I watched it once on either Keith's or John's YouTube channel.  I don't recall which tournament it was.  But he did a great job.  Slid right into that role seamlessly.
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Reply with quote  #7 
I know for a fact Dave Davis never did ABC's PBT. I remember reading about Welu's death when I was 8...wondering who would replace him. It was Bo of course and to the best of my recollection in 1975 because I never missed it, he was always the color guy.
BowlingOldies

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Reply with quote  #8 
So can you explain why Bo was not on the 1975 King Louie Open telecast?  He was not among the five finalists, and nor was he the alternate.  With him living in St. Louis, just across the state of Missouri from the tournaments, I can't think of a reason (short of a family emergency or some such) why he wouldn't have been there for the show.
Dare

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Reply with quote  #9 
From Wikipedia which is not always accurate

Commentators[edit]

  • (1961–1974) Chris Schenkel, Billy Welu
  • (1974–1975) Chris Schenkel, various guest commentators
  • (1975–1997) Chris Schenkel, Nelson Burton Jr.

Other commentators[edit]

On some broadcasts, either Schenkel or Burton were on assignment so other commentators filled in.

Mike Aulby and John Mazza, among other pros who were not competing on the telecasts, served as a lane-level reporters for PBT and would interview bowlers competing on the show.

It became somewhat of a running gag about how Schenkel was absent during some of the memorable moments of the series. He was not in the booth for the PBA's first-ever televised 300 game, rolled by Jack Biondolillo at the 1967 Tournament of Champions, due to a broadcast union strike. He was out on assignment covering other events for the network during each of the next two televised 300 games (Johnny Guenther in 1969 and Jim Stefanich 1974) and he also missed the first televised 7–10 split conversion as done by Mark Roth in 1980. Some even considered it to be a "curse" that if Schenkel was covering bowling, the bowlers would not throw a perfect game. This appeared to have some merit to it when Don Johnson rolled a memorable 299 in the 1970 Tournament of Champions. He needed a strike on his final ball, but left a 10-pin. The curse was finally broken in 1987; with both Schenkel and Burton in the broadcast booth, Pete McCordic rolled a 300 game againstWayne Webb. Immediately after the final strike, Schenkel yelled, "We have it! We have it!"

As his career progressed, he began covering bowling almost exclusively and thus saw most of the PBA's great moments toward the latter part of the series. Schenkel would be in the booth for five more televised 300 games, as well as one of the only other two televised 7–10 split conversions, by John Mazza.


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shakla

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Reply with quote  #10 
Welu died a month after the Firestone ToC in 1974, which ended the ABC telecasts for the year, so why would they have used guest commentators in 1974 at all?  Wikipedia's bowling coverage in general is pretty awful to begin with.

Not finding a lot of clear answers tho.  Found this 1982 Google News article about Bo (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19820109&id=5phcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=RVgNAAAAIBAJ&pg=6434,696484&hl=en) where it says after 8 weeks of live auditions, he got a 1 year contract.

Have seen Dave Davis do commentary on a few youtube clips tho.  Including one of the late 70s World Opens that NBC telecast.
Dare

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Reply with quote  #11 
Maybe their counting the fall 74-74 season for the
season 73-74 for a general 1974 year

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mikeyevs

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Reply with quote  #12 
this might help
Buckeye_Nut

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Reply with quote  #13 
A waterfront bowling alley! LOL...imagine that?   Amazingly...it's still there!!  The land must be worth a fortune.  
avabob

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Reply with quote  #14 
For what it is worth, the Wikipedia info included by Dare is also consistent with information contained in the book, Pin Action. 
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