It has been more than four years since Danny Wiseman arrived on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour in storybook fashion.
Wiseman, a Dundalk High School graduate, won his first PBA title in his hometown on national television.
He went on to capture three more titles by the end of 1991. In 1992, Wiseman failed to win a title, but he bowled more consistently and finished in the top 16 in money earnings for the third consecutive year.
In 1993, however, Wiseman's fairy-tale career turned into a horror story. He earned just $23,905 -- after averaging nearly $81,000 his first three years.
Wiseman, 27, now is looking to move on to the next chapter in his career: a comeback.
"It's tough because bowling is something I've been doing my whole life," said Wiseman, who has earned $15,230 this year. "This is my prime. After three successful years, it should be getting better and it got worse. Now it's time for a comeback."
Wiseman, who lives in Albany, Ore., was in town yesterday to promote the PBA's return to Baltimore after a one-year absence. The Greater Baltimore Open is scheduled to run from Feb. 26 to March 4 at Country Club Lanes.
"I'll never forget when I won here. I want to repeat," Wiseman said.
Wiseman, who hasn't won a title since October 1991 or qualified for the stepladder finals since April 1992, attributed his decline to several factors.
Foremost was the breakup of his marriage in July 1993 -- a little more than a year after his father had died -- and some financial problems.
"It felt like the world was ending," Wiseman said.
Then, Wiseman had difficulties with his equipment. Most bowlers were using reactive resin bowling balls, but Wiseman had to remain with a urethane ball because Hammer -- with whom Wiseman was under contract -- did not make a reactive resin model.
Reactive resin balls are shiny-surfaced balls that go through the first 40 feet of the lane smoother and react stronger on the back end than the urethane balls.
"My physical game fell apart because I was trying to make my bowling balls give me the reaction other players had," Wiseman said.
Eventually, Hammer made a reactive resin ball and Wiseman began to show signs of improvement.
He has finished in the top 24 in six of his past eight tournaments and cashed in two others.
"The next step is to go to the show," said Wiseman, referring to the televised stepladder finals. "I'm almost there."
Dennis Baldwin, owner of Faball Enterprises, which sponsors Wiseman, agreed.
"Danny is throwing the ball right now better than he did three years ago," Baldwin said. "All he needs to do is to get some confidence back."
Apparently, Wiseman has.
"When I bust out, I'm not taking any prisoners," Wiseman said. "I've had a taste of it, and now I've gotten a taste of the other side of the coin and I'm hungry. "If I make a show, I'll click right back to the way I used to."