Dundalk's Danny Wiseman bowls his way into Hall of Fame

Baltimore County native will be inducted into Pro Bowlers Association Hall of Fame on Saturday

Danny Wiseman

Danny Wiseman (Handout photo / November 4, 2011)

Danny Wiseman is practicing at Country Club Lanes on Pulaski Highway, sounding like the 10-pin version of Rodney Dangerfield while expounding on a favorite topic: why bowling gets no respect.

"I hate it when they say bowling's not a sport," he says now. "Tell me why it isn't? Because we don't make millions?"

I shrug and tell him I have no idea.

"Take your best in-shape athlete," he continues, voice rising, "and have him bowl three or four games, and he'll be sore the next day."

I shrug again. Look, I get sore just putting on the shoes.

Wiseman is in an expansive mood on this weekday afternoon, and why not? On Saturday night, the hotshot from Dundalk will be inducted into the Pro Bowlers Association Hall of Fame at a big, fancy gala in Indianapolis.

He's won 12 PBA national titles, including the 2004 Masters, and 11 regional titles. He's bowled 43 sanctioned 300 games. He's listed at No. 42 on the PBA list of the 50 greatest bowlers of all time.

And the fact is, he's made millions, too, as much as $3.5 million by his rough estimate if you count earnings and endorsements and sponsorship loot.

Now semi-retired at 45, he hopes to coach and teach a sport whose popularity, he acknowledges sadly, is on the wane.

"Now there's a million other things kids can do," he says. "It's not on dedicated TV. It's not a first-tier sport like it was in the '60s, '70s and '80s. It fell through the cracks."

It was different years ago, he says. Wiseman was 6 when he bowled 10 pins for the first time. He found the whole atmosphere to be intoxicating.

"Gigantic bowling balls! The smell of oil! You knock down stuff!" he recalls. "They send your ball back! You knock down stuff again!"

He joined his first league at age 7. He bowled his first 300 game at 15. By 16, he was hustling games against older guys in D.C. and thinking he could make a living at it.

But turning pro in 1987 at age 19, he found the PBA tour to be whole different world.

"I thought I was good," he said. "I beat up on a small pond. But there's a whole hell of a lot of better bowlers in that big pond."

Three years later, he won his first title in his first career TV appearance at the Fair Lanes Open in Woodlawn, walking away with $27,000 and the confidence to think he could finally bowl with the big boys.

In 2000, Microsoft bought the PBA and rescued it, some say, from the brink of irrelevance. They wanted the tour to attract a younger, hipper demographic.

Wiseman was perfect for the mission.

"They wanted our personalities to come out," Wiseman says with a shrug.

Oh, Wiseman gave them plenty of personality. Plenty of good looks, too.

 

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