Stepladder has aided Wiseman's PBA climb

February 20, 1992|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Danny Wiseman's sudden breakthrough on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour has been well-documented in Baltimore.

He has won four tournaments in two years and, with $87,330, was 15th on the tour in earnings last year.

Not bad for a 24-year-old Dundalk native whose previous claim, outside of bowling, was pitching and playing third base in the Berkshire Little League when he was 9.

No one in the history of Baltimore tenpin bowling has come close to matching Wiseman's success. He is averaging 227.75 pins in the qualifying round in the $150,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open at Fair Lanes Woodlawn.

But the best-kept secret about Wiseman is that he is the tour's hottest television star.

That's right, Wiseman has the best television championship-round winning percentage of any bowler on the national circuit.

Wiseman has taken to the TV lights (weekly stepladder finals) as if he were born to be a star.

Those same TV lights have been the ruination of more than one outstanding bowler. More than once, Baltimoreans watched Gil Sliker mar a perfect week here by fading in front of the cameras.

Wiseman has a 12-1 record (.923 average) in five appearances on the show. He has won four of the five shows, and last year he twice went from the fifth seed to win tournaments (8-0 record on TV).

Allie Clarke, of Zanesville, Ohio, is the closest to Wiseman in the TV ratings with an 8-3 record.

So how does a young man from Dundalk become a TV natural?

"I've always been a winner and I expect to win even if I'm on TV," said Wiseman. "Everybody gets nervous, but it's how you handle it. When I get on TV, I take one frame at a time. I try to block out everything that is around me and I don't let myself think about the lights or the fact that 4 to 5 million people are watching."

Sounds good. But other bowlers have certainly tried the same approach without the same results.

"Pressure's a sign of fear," said Wiseman. "I've been lucky on TV. I've bowled very well when I've needed to and I've got a lot of breaks."

Wiseman said he knows there will come a time when he "bowls a 160 on TV. I know it's going to happen."

But for now, Wiseman is on a roll as he heads into the today's final six games of the qualifying round in the $150,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open at Fair Lanes Woodlawn.

L He is averaging 227.75 pins through 12 games, placing him in

fifth place among the 160 bowlers with six qualifying games left.

Wiseman will be bowling today from 12:15 p.m. to 3:30. The top 24 bowlers qualify for match play.

Pete McCordic, of Katy, Texas, leads the pack with an average of 236.58 pins through 12 games.

Once again, Wiseman has a shot to win a major tournament in front of his hometown fans.

It was just two years ago at Fair Lanes Woodlawn that Wiseman won his first PBA title. That win gave him the confidence to compete week in and week out with the tour's top bowlers.

"I hope to stay out here bowling for the next 20 years," said Wiseman. "I want to win as many titles as I can in my career. I've got a good sponsor [Dennis Baldwin, the owner of Faball Enterprises of Baltimore] and I represent that company on the tour."

NOTES: Other than Wiseman, Mark Bowers of Aberdeen was the most successful area bowler at the end of last night's qualifying games. Bowers averaged 213.25 pins over 12 games for 46th fTC place. Other top local bowlers were Larry Nalls of Baltimore (62nd place with 210.75 average), Brian Bennett of Baltimore (63rd place with 210.67), Joel Eiler of Berlin (83rd place with 207.75), Terry Logan of Catonsville (85th with 207.33), Glen Shipe of Owings Mills (tie for 87th with 206.08) and Scott Poe of Glen Burnie (93rd with 205.08).

Facts and figures

What: $150,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open.

Where: Fair Lanes Woodlawn.

When: Today--9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (B squad final six games qualifying); 12:15 to 3:30 (A squad final six games qualifying); 6:45 p.m (first eight games of match play between 24 finalists). Tomorrow--11 a.m. (second eight games of match play); 6:15 (final eight games of match play determining five stepladder finalists). Saturday--TV show, 3 to 4:30 p.m.

TV: Saturday, channels 13, 7.

Top bowlers: Defending champion Pete Weber, defending runner-up Del Ballard Jr., Dundalk's Danny Wiseman.

Tickets: Can be purchased at the door for today's and tomorrow's sessions. Saturday session is sold out. Tickets are $5 for today's 9 a.m.-to-3:30 p.m. qualifying; $10 for tonight's eight-game match play from 7 to 10 p.m.; $8 for tomorrow's eight-game match play from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $12 for tomorrow night's eight-game match play from 6:15 to 10:15.

At stake: $31,000 for first place, $16,000 for second.

Stop on PBA Tour: Seventh of 16 tournaments.

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