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    by Randy Ooney     

My Nickel’s Worth                                  by Randy Ooney




I tried my hand in the CBA for a few years in the 90s.  Unfortunately, I cashed about as often as Justin Morneau hits a triple, but the experience made me poorer but better.  I also met some of the best bowlers in the Twin Cities area.  The CBA attracted bowlers from all over the five state area, not the least of which was a young man from Eau Claire, WI, Mike Wirz.   Mike was only 19 when the CBA made its annual stop in Eau Claire.  He entered with his home field advantage and impressed John Dorek and many others with a fourth place finish.  He entered 5 more tournaments that year without success, so he put the CBA on hold for a few years and pursued his other vocation as a pitcher in high level fast pitch softball.  It’s no surprise that he amassed over 4000 strikeouts and was the 1988 Wisconsin State Class A MVP.  I have not seen Mike pitch, but when he bowls, he doesn’t swing the ball around like a softball pitcher, but his follow through has Eddie Feigner written all over it. 

After throwing softball strikes for thirteen years, Mike returned to tournament bowling to throw a different kind of strike with a heavier ball.  He practiced with a plastic ball and bowled sweepers and small tournaments in his area for about a year and then returned to the CBA.  He just missed cashing in his first tournament back, but that only gave him more determination to rise to the top.  Many excellent players have come and gone in the CBA, but few have shown the long term proficiency of Mr. Sam Lantto.  Mike decided to study everything Sam did at each tournament in hopes of improving his own game.  It worked.  Within two years Mike found himself in the hunt for CBA player of the year, virtually tied with none other than Sam.  In the second to last tournament that year, Mike was crossing with Sam and had a 125 pin lead with 3 games to go.  Sam found that higher gear that most of only wish we had, passed Mike and everyone else, won the tournament, won the next tournament, and was player of the year.


To be continued……


Next week:  Team challenge, Smilin’ Carl, The streak, and the MSC.  Meanwhile go back and read the title.  Mike’s surname has only four letters, but is the most mispronounced four letter name in bowling.  Once you get it down we can work on my wife’s first name: Zhouqin.


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