For the first time in the 21-year history of ESPN’s iconic “This Is SportsCenter” commercial series, a bowler is playing a starring role. And that bowler is the sport’s most recognizable star, PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber.
The Weber promotional spot made its debut in conjunction with the live ESPN telecast of the USBC Masters.
In keeping with the tradition of “This Is SportsCenter’s” light-hearted humor, the spot portrays Weber as a stereotypical bowler. He emerges from a side door and follows ESPN broadcast star Kenny Mayne toward the exit of ESPN’s Los Angeles offices carrying a vintage one-ball bowling bag and stopping at the reception desk to exchange a pair of rental shoes for his street shoes. It concludes with the receptionist spraying the rental shoes with disinfectant.
The “TSIC” promotional series made its debut in 1994, and has featured a Who’s Who roster of legendary stars from almost every sport, except bowling, until Weber’s appearance. The spot can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT7GHFf1FSM
While Weber had appeared on television nearly 150 times during his career, it was the first time the 37-time PBA Tour champion has done a nationally-televised commercial. It was, in his words, “Wonderful. Everyone in Los Angeles looked at me and said, ‘Hey, that’s Pete Weber.’
“I admit, I get a thrill when other celebrities recognize me,” Weber added. “Everyone in Bristol (ESPN’s Connecticut base) knows me because I’ve been around there a lot, but I had never been to the Los Angeles offices before.”
The project had been in planning stages for months, and when Weber’s schedule finally matched up with ESPN’s shooting schedule, he made the trek to Los Angeles with little idea of what to expect.
“I went in on Wednesday evening, met Chantre [Camack, the talent director for the project] and basically had all day Thursday free. When we were walking over to ESPN, Chantre asked me if I’d like to do the ‘Sports Nation’ show. I said sure, but I didn’t know it was live. Otherwise, I might not have displayed my middle finger.” He laughed.
“Then we watched [Golden State Warriors star] Steph Curry shoot his commercial, where he was in the buffet line. I also met [Houston Rockets star] James Harden. We started shooting about 4:30 and were done by 6.”
During his bantering with Mayne — noted for his offbeat sense of humor — Weber said, “Kenny asked me if I’d ever bowled a game over 300. I told him as a matter of fact, I bowl in a mixed handicap league with my wife Tracy and I shot a 300 with three pins of handicap, so I had a 303 game.
“I talked with Kenny for about a half hour,” he said. “What a nice guy, very intelligent. Everyone was first class, A-one, as nice as can be. It was an honor to be part of it.”