ARLINGTON, Texas - John Martorella Sr. of Greece, N.Y., grew up around bowling and had the opportunity to experience the sport's ultimate achievement when he rolled 36 consecutive strikes for a 900 series in the Knox Amusement scratch league at Domm's Bowling Center in Rochester, N.Y., on Thursday night.
The accomplishment still is pending approval from the United States Bowling Congress, but would make the 28-year-old right-hander the 19th bowler in history to achieve the feat. It would be the 20th USBC-approved 900 series.
"Before I threw the last strike, I took a deep breath and told myself if I got the last one, I'd tie the world record, and to be able to do it is absolutely amazing," Martorella said. "This just feels incredible. My phone has been ringing all day with calls from friends, the local news, people I haven't talked to in years and even local bowling legends I grew up watching. We have such a great bowling family here, and it's special to be able to share it with them."
Martorella's family has owned Domm's Bowling Center since 1971, and he co-manages the 16-lane establishment with his father, Joe, a Rochester Bowling Association Hall of Famer, and his brother, Frank.
Because of his responsibilities at the bowling center, Martorella often is pulled in different directions, even when he's bowling league. Thursday was no exception, as he spent part of the first game addressing a lane breakdown and organizing brackets.
Toward the end of the set, his 5-year-old son, John Jr., stopped him during his pre-shot routine and asked if he could bowl, too.
"I was able to shoot 300 the first game, and then things started to settle down, so I was able to stay on my pair," Martorella said. "When my son came up to me during my pre-shot swing in the ninth frame, I couldn't help but laugh. It gave me a chance to step back and start my routine all over, and it really helped. I'm glad that he and my father were able to be there with me. My brother bowls in the league, too."
This year, Martorella cut his league participation back to just one league and is having one of his best seasons, which ended Thursday night with a 238 average. He also rolled a pair of 300s and two 800 series earlier in the year. He now owns 15 perfect games and five 800s to go along with his latest achievement.
"I'm here an awful lot, so I decided I didn't want to commit to two leagues this year, which left my Friday nights open to go out and do some other things," said Martorella, who spends about 50 hours each week at the bowling center. "I try to practice every other day, and a lot of my focus is on tournaments on the weekends."
In three weeks, Martorella will head south to Baton Rouge, La., for the 2012 USBC Open Championships, the world's largest participatory sporting event. He will be making his fourth consecutive tournament appearance and looks to improve on the career-best 2,001 all-events total he posted at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., last year. His father won a Regular Team title at the 1971 event in Detroit.
"I've been throwing the ball really well lately, and I hope some of this carries over," said Martorella, who owns a 204.7 average at the Open Championships. "You just try to use something like this to your advantage, and it definitely keeps your confidence up."
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Neb. There has never been a 900 on Sport Bowling lane conditions.
USBC-Approved 900 Series (20)
Jeremy Sonnenfeld (R), Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 2, 1997
Tony Roventini (L), Greenfield, Wis., Nov. 9, 1998
Vince Wood (R), Moreno Valley, Calif., Sept, 29, 1999
Robby Portalatin (L), Jackson, Mich., Dec. 28, 2000
James Hylton (R), Salem, Ore., May 2, 2001
Jeff Campbell II (R), New Castle, Pa., June 12, 2004
Darin Pomije (R), New Prague, Minn., Dec. 9, 2004
Robert Mushtare (R), Fort Drum, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2005 and Feb. 19, 2006
Lonnie Billiter Jr. (R), Fairfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2006
Mark Wukoman (R), Greenfield, Wis., April 22, 2006
P.J. Giesfeldt (R), Milwaukee, Dec. 23, 2006
Rich Jerome Jr. (R), Baltimore, Dec. 22, 2008
Chris Aker (L), Winnemucca, Nev., Oct. 30, 2009
Andrew Teall (R), Medford, N.J., Nov. 2, 2009
Andrew Mank (R), Bellevue Ill., March 18, 2010
William Howell III (L), Middletown, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2010
Matt Latarski (R), Medina, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2010
Bob Kammer Jr. (R), Crown Point, Ind., Jan. 8, 2011
John Martorella Sr. (R), Greece, N.Y., April 12, 2012**
** Pending formal approval by the United States Bowling Congress.