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Beat the Champs: Pete Weber just keeps right on rolling

Pro bowler Pete Weber BeChampions target match Lakewood Bowl RichtPark Dec.11 2012. |  Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Pro bowler Pete Weber at the Beat the Champions target match at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park, Dec.11, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Beat The Champions

Target pros: Pete Weber and Kelly Kulick.

Target broadcast: 10 a.m. Tuesday on Comcast SportsNet.

Sectionals: In February (results of contest are being tabulated, qualifiers will be notified).

Top prize: A new Ford automobile for the men’s and women’s
champions in March.

Updated: December 24, 2012 3:05PM

We stepped through the side door at Lakewood Bowl so Pete Weber could have a smoke. Any smoker knows the drill.

Weber is the ‘‘everyman’’ of bowling, probably more than most of us want to admit.

The son of the late Dick Weber, one of the greatest bowlers of all time, Pete Weber epitomizes the heart and soul of bowling even more than his father.

‘‘Still looking for player of the year,’’ he said.

Even the greatest have something to drive them.

Weber was the perfect person to become the first to bowl the men’s target scores four times in Beat the Champions, the charity bowling event co-sponsored for 52 years by the Sun-Times and the Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association. Kelly Kulick rolled the women’s target scores for the fourth time.

U.S. Open winners are invited to bowl the target scores for BTC. Weber this year became the first man to win five U.S. Opens, breaking a tie with his dad and Don Carter, another all-time great.

While Weber smoked after warming up before the taping of the target scores, he and I talked outside the door he knew to keep propped open at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park.

‘‘Seven seventy-one,’’ he said. ‘‘That is the one that sticks.’’

In 2007, his third time setting the men’s target scores for BTC, Weber rolled a 771 series, second only to the 815 Robert Lawrence rolled in 1992.

One of the worst-kept secrets in bowling, especially in the era of tweeting, is that the target scores are bowled a couple of weeks
before the traditional Christmas airing of the show.

‘‘This is a fun time but also a
serious time,’’ Weber said. ‘‘We don’t want to shoot a 550 and give them something easy. Give them a 750.’’

There’s fun in the target show. The serious side is the charity. In its first 51 years, BTC has raised nearly $2.8 million from 5,657,412 entries.

Weber is the bridge between the generation that remembers bowling alleys (and sneaking a first cigarette or drink) and the generation that sees bowling lanes as part of entertainment centers.

The thing I most remember about Weber and BTC came in 2004. While sipping a beer, Weber broke down all three-dozen-plus balls Kulick had bowled. He didn’t do it to show off but because he bowled. And remembered.

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