Pin-nacle Achievement: Vermonter Bowls a Perfect 900 Series | 802 Much | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Pin-nacle Achievement: Vermonter Bowls a Perfect 900 Series


  • Courtesy Photo
  • Jon Wilbur

A North Clarendon man rolled his way to bowling immortality last week by throwing a perfect 900 series while playing in a local league.

All 32 lanes at Rutland Bowlerama went quiet on January 14 as Jon Wilbur, 36, stepped forward to attempt a feat no Vermonter had yet achieved: bowling a perfect three-game set for a total of 36 consecutive strikes. He's just the 34th person ever to do it during sanctioned league play.

A 900 series in bowling is roughly equivalent to a baseball pitcher's perfect game. It's so elusive that Wilbur, an accomplished bowler with three New England Bowlers Association titles and more than 120 perfect games to his name, never imagined he could knock down 360 pins in a row.

"I don't think any bowler puts it on their bucket list, so to speak," he said. "It's something you dream about. You don't ever expect to do it."

Wilbur said his nerves got to him with four frames left in the final game. Fellow bowlers had stopped talking to him, Wilbur realized, and his legs were shaking like wobbly pins. By the final frame, all 75 or so other people at the alley had stopped bowling, too. Video later posted to Facebook shows the impromptu gallery erupting in cheers as the final 10 pins crashed down. Wilbur can be seen looking upward and raising his arms in triumph before sliding to the hardwood.

The score won't be official until the United States Bowling Congress reviews paperwork submitted by the Rutland alley, where Wilbur has worked for the last 12 years. Once it is official, he'll receive a gold "900" ring from the USBC.

"From the picture I saw, it looks pretty extravagant," he said of the ornament.

But Wilbur isn't particularly concerned about keepsakes from the big night. He has continued rolling the same Radical-brand ball, even though he says friends have urged him to enshrine it behind glass.

If the ball's lucky, why not keep throwing it? Then again, Wilbur can't be accused of relying on luck: He knocked down the 900th pin in the No. 13 lane.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Bowled Over"