900 reasons for making the bowlers' record book by By James Brooke

    02/09/97

    ABC News

    Jeremy Sonnenfeld makes history; rolls first-ever sanctioned 900 series

    Jeremy_Sonnenfeld_1544.jpgOne week ago, Jeremy Sonnenfeld was just another skinny sophomore lost in a sea of 25,000 students. In the mornings, he studied business administration at the University of Nebraska. In the afternoons, he worked out with the rest of the school's top-ranked intercollegiate bowling squad at the lanes in the student union.

    Today, his college coach is fielding calls from the likes of David Letterman and Planet Hollywood. The nightclub chain is sending a contract to lease the bowling shoes, shirt and pants that Mr. Sonnenfeld wore here last Sunday.

    On that afternoon, he did what no other bowler had done in the 101 years that the American Bowling Congress has been keeping track of bowling achievements: he rolled three perfect games in a row, 36 consecutive strikes.

    "Luck has a lot to do with it: you can throw a shot that is perfect, and then have one pin standing," Mr. Sonnenfeld said with a touch of modesty over lunch here today. "To bowl 36 strikes in a row, it's unthinkable."

    Wherever bowlers are gathering these days, in bowling alleys and bars across America, Mr. Sonnenfeld's series is regarded as more than unthinkable. It is nearly beyond belief.

    If only because the bowling congress has never before sanctioned a perfect, 900 series, his accomplishment is as rare as, say, a baseball pitcher throwing three no-hitters in a row, or a golfer shooting three consecutive holes-in-one.

    In honor of his feat, he was to travel to Huntsville, Ala., on Saturday to receive a specially commissioned gold and diamond "900" ring from the bowling congress, the nation's largest bowling group.

    While the group says that at least four other bowlers have claimed the score in the past, this is the first time that it has officially certified the record, acknowledging that it took place in a sanctioned league event on bowling lanes that met the Congress's minimum specifications.

    Aided by improvements in training and in lane and ball technology, bowling scores have been climbing nationally. In 1971, for example, only one bowler in Lincoln rolled a 300 game, or 12 strikes in a row. Last year, bowlers here bowled 27 perfect games. And nationally, the number of 300 games recorded by the American Bowling Congress has doubled in five years, hitting 30,169 last year.