Don Carter Is Born
Don Carter, one of the greatest professional bowlers of all time, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 29, 1926.
A childhood job as a pinsetter gave Carter his start. Practicing on a lane that he constructed in his basement, Carter perfected his game and joined the St. Louis Budweiser team. In 1953, he received the first of six "bowler of the year" designations. He dominated the sport during its heyday.
Carter set bowling firsts. In 1961 he was the first person to win bowling's Grand Slam: the All-Star tournament, the World's Invitational, the Professional Bowlers' Association (PBA) National Championship, and the American Bowling Congress (ABC) Masters tournament. He also was the first athlete to sign a $1 million promotional contract, the first bowler to have a PBA tournament named for him, and the first bowler selected for the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame.
Since ancient times, people have rolled balls at pins for sport. An Egyptian child's tomb, dating to 3,200 B.C., contained bowling balls and pins. Various forms of bowling have been popular in America since colonial times—English, Dutch, and German settlers all imported their own variations of bowling. By the 1870s, competitive bowling between clubs was common in big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee. Tenpin bowling dominated the sport, but without official rules and equipment standards the game flourished only at the local level.
Prior to the PBA being formed, Don Carter was known as the most dominant bowler of the 1950s. In eight prestigious BPAA All-Star tournaments between 1952 and 1960 (he withdrew one year due to injury), Carter won four times and never finished lower than fourth. He won five World Invitational events in a six-year span, finishing second the only year he didn't win. He also won one ABC Masters title.
Carter was part of the legendary "Budweisers" Bowling Team of 1958 that established a long-standing ABC league series record for a five-man team. Ray Bluth, Dick Weber, Tom Hennessey and Pat Patterson were also on that 1958 team.
Unlike most bowlers, who keep their arm straight on the backswing as they are about to release the ball, Carter kept his elbow bent, never straightening his arm.
Although the PBA was not formed until Carter was 32 years old, he still won 7 PBA titles (5 of them majors) including the inaugural PBA National Championship in 1960. He won four titles and $49,000 in prize money in 1962 alone. He was the PBA's first president, and served four years overall in that capacity. A bad knee forced him into an early retirement.