Criss, Wiseman relish faceoff at home

Pair with local roots lead 80 pros in PBA tourney


April 15, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Dundalk native Danny Wiseman and Bel Air's Tim Criss have crossed paths several times on a winding, rigorous road to success on the Professional Bowlers Association tour.

But both say this weekend's meeting in the Lipton Brisk East Coast PBA Regional tournament at West Baltimore's Shake and Bake Family Fun Center will be special.

"Going against Danny will be like bowling for $1 a game," said Criss. "It will be a lot of fun. We're both low-key, regular guys with no big egos or any hang-ups about our importance. Neither one of us is into all the big fist-pumping exhibitions that some guys on the tour engage in. Those are the kind of guys we like to beat."

Wiseman is looking forward to the matchup, as well.

"Tim and I go back a long ways, and he is always tough to beat. It will be great to have a chance to bowl against him in front of all our friends and family. You can't beat having a tournament so close to home, like this."

Wiseman, Criss and 78 other top bowlers will compete in eight qualifying games starting at 10 a.m. today, with the top 12 advancing to head-to-head competition at 11 a.m. tomorrow for the championship.

After 13 years and seven national titles on the tour, "home" has become a cherished place for Wiseman, 32, who lives now in Parkville.

He has even cut back on his practice schedule to spend more time with girlfriend Mindy Munk, who sells real estate and is not a bowling fan.

"I've been through the marriage and divorce routine, and I even considered giving up bowling back in 1993 and '94 after my father [Albert] died of cancer in 1992 at 63 years old," said Wiseman.

"That was tough on me. I dropped way down in the rankings and resigned from a ball-company deal. But I bounced back in 1995 by finishing third and first in back-to-back tournaments, and my game has been consistent ever since then."

Wiseman's fall came after he had thrilled Baltimoreans in 1990 by winning the Fairlanes Open national PBA tournament in his home town at the age of 22.

"Those were the days when I practiced all the time to stay sharp," he said. "Now I believe a lot of your success has to do with the mental aspect of the game. I like to stay fresh mentally, and you can only do that by staying away from the lanes more.

"I just go into the lanes now during the day and get my work on my equipment done and go home."

Wiseman, ranked 10th on the PBA tour at the moment, has cashed checks from all seven tournaments he has bowled this year and has won more than $720,000 in 13 years on the circuit.

"I'll probably retire when I reach 40," he said.

While Wiseman is cutting back on practice and trying to reduce his traveling, Criss, 33, has increased his tournament load and still practices two to three hours a day.

"I have a motor home, and I just loaded it up last week to travel to North Carolina and Florida for regional tournaments," said Criss. He has traveled on the tour for only seven years even though he has been a pro for 15 years.

"My wife [Cherie] and I just had our first child [Amanda] in January, and we took her with us last week. It was kind of a combination of a vacation/working trip for us."

Criss said he is "constantly tinkering with my game" and added: "I could probably get by without practicing so much, but I don't know if I could live with myself if my game dropped off a lot."

Like Wiseman, Criss went through one really bad time in his career; his occurred in 1996.

"I felt like I couldn't get the ball off my hands," he said. "It kind of shook me up. I lost a lot of confidence. But I took a couple of weeks off and came back in 1997 to have my best year, with $135,000 in winnings."

Criss has won more than $420,000 in his career and at No. 11 is ranked just behind Wiseman on this year's tour. He has cashed checks in four of five tournaments this year.

Lipton Regional

What: Lipton Brisk East Coast PBA Regional tournament

When: Today (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and tomorrow (11 a.m.-3 p.m.)

Where: Shake and Bake Family Fun Center, 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue

At stake: Local PBA stars Danny Wiseman and Tim Criss join 78 other top bowlers in today's eight-game qualifying round, with the top 12 advancing to head-to-head, championship competition tomorrow. This is the first PBA Tour event in Baltimore since 1993.

Prize money: First place $3,200; second $1,800; third $1,400; fourth $1,200; fifth $1,000.

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