PBA success turns into full-time job for Bel Air's Criss

Tim Criss and his wife, Cherie, live in Bel Air and they're pretty much like any other young couple. Except for one small thing.

L Tim Criss makes his living on the Professional Bowlers Tour.


"Last year I made 30 of the stops," Criss said, "This year I'll try to do the same."

Criss, 27, started bowling at Bel Air Bowl when he was about 5 years old. He was 13 when Joe Bova, a local resident, told him to see him about sponsorship on the PBA Tour when he was ready for national competition.


Criss took out the PBA card when he was 18 and began bowling in the regional events.

"Physically, I was ready," Criss said. "Mentally, I wasn't in the same class with the other guys, they stood head and shoulders above me."

The cure for that is practice and competition; he made sure he got plenty of both.

"I started throwing 75 to 100 games a week, still do," he said. "And I started bowling in a lot of regional events."

By 1990, he was cashing in regionals on a regular basis (11 of 13 events). Two years ago he was crowned Eastern Regional Pro of the Year. He won two regional titles that year and last year captured two more while bowling on the national tour full-time.

"Joe Bova made that possible," Criss said. "He sponsors me on the tour now and this year I'll be back on the national scene."

The PBA fall schedule has six events lined up, Oct. 1 through Nov. 9.

Earlier this month in Cleveland, Criss had his best finish in the nationals, a fourth.


Owner of 13 300 games and three 800 series, Criss appears ready for a big year on the tour.

"When I need help with my game, I turn to Bernie Smith [a local instructor]. He can pick up on the little things without tearing down my whole game," Criss said. "And I've received a lot of help from Brian Pircell of Ebonite and Del Warren of AMF."

Bova can spot a winner; maybe that's something that comes with more than 70 years of bowling experience.

"I started setting pins and hanging about bowling alleys when I was just 9 or 10 years old," said Bova, who grew up in Salem, Ohio.

Now 85 and living in Fallston with his wife of 63 years, Mary, Bova spotted Criss "when he was just a little kid."

"I guess he was 12 or 13 years old," Bova said. "But you could tell he was going to be a good one."


Bova remains active on the tenpin lanes; once a 185-average tenpin bowler, he still carries a 170 in the Tuesday afternoon senior league at Brunswick Perry Hall.

In 1992, when he was 82, he finished 11th out of almost 600 entries in the Baltimore PBA Pro-Am at Fair Lanes Woodlawn; he has a career high game of 297 and he still throws a 14-pound bowling ball.

"I started using a lighter ball recently," Bova said. "But the new equipment lets you do that and still carry pins. I'm using a [14-pound] Quantum that hits like a 16-pound ball."