Professional Bowlers Association superstar Earl Anthony, who died in 2001 at age 63, finally has a biography: Luby Publishing recently published EARL: The Greatest Bowler of All Time by Barry Sparks.
“It’s mystifying how any athlete who is considered the greatest in his sport could go this long without a biography,” said Sparks. “Imagine if there were no biographies of Hank Aaron, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Peyton Manning, Arnold Palmer, or Jimmy Connors.”
Sparks thought it was an injustice, and he set out to rectify it. He spent two years interviewing people, researching, and writing the biography.
Sparks, a writer from York, has covered bowling for the York County daily newspapers for more than 30 years. His articles also have appeared in Bowlers Journal International, Bowling Center Management, Pro Shop Operator, and Bowling Entertainment Center.
Anthony, a southpaw from Tacoma, Washington, forged a dominating career on the PBA Tour from 1970 to 1983, winning 43 titles. In 2008, he was named The Greatest Player in the PBA’s 50-year history by a panel of bowlers and media members.
Sparks says Earl Anthony was bowling’s unlikeliest celebrity. He didn’t pick up a bowling ball until he was 21. He didn’t go on the PBA Tour full-time until he was 31, an age when many athletes’ careers are ending.
After winning three Player of the Year awards, he suffered a major heart attack in 1978. With a fierce determination, he returned to the lanes to win Player of the Year three more times. PBA founder Eddie Elias called Anthony’s feat “one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.”
Sparks takes a season-by-season look at Anthony’s career, sharing the challenges Anthony faced, the reasons for his unparalleled success, his greatest achievements, and his frustrations.
The author interviewed more than 100 people, including 23 PBA Hall of Famers. Anthony’s peers shared stories about his work ethic, competitiveness, adaptability, temper, and humor.
Sparks’ 293-page book includes more than two dozen vintage photographs (www.earlanthonybook.com). Ten percent of the book’s profits will be donated to the Earl Anthony Scholarship.
Sparks is the author of two other biographies: Frank “Home Run” Baker: World Series Hero and Hall of Famer and Rick Riordan.