If you’re a bowler, most likely by now you have seen the videos and heard the name Salvatore (Sam) Anthony Esposito IV. You know the video where Sam falls to his knees filled with emotion after the last pin falls and the entire bowling center goes crazy. Do you know which video we are talking about yet?
Well in case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the link….
It was on Friday, February 3, when bowlers across the United States witnessed Sam throw his 34th, 35th, and 36th shot of his 900 series with a Roto Grip No Rules Pearl on Facebook. There were multiple videos from multiple angles from his teammates to other competitors in his league recording this remarkable feat at Strike N Spare II in Lockport, IL.
Before we got our chance to talk with Sam about his accomplishment we were able to get some quotes from friends, teammates and fellow bowlers that know him. The unanimous quotes were, “It couldn’t have happened to a better guy” as well as “He is the epitome of humble and hardworking” among others.
So what was going through Sam’s mind the night he bowled 900? What did he feel like after? We finally got our chance to sit down and ask him these questions and more in this interview:
How’d you get started bowling?
I started bowling when I was 11 years old. I bowled junior leagues and then went on to bowl in high school. After I graduated high school I then went on to bowl in college for a few months. College bowling just wasn’t for me. I actually quit bowling completely for 2-1/2 years. After some time off my buddy was the one who actually got me back into bowling about three years ago. He bowls on my team but wasn’t there that night to witness it in person.
Prior to that night I only had two sanctioned 300’s as an adult. Back in the day I threw plenty of practice 300’s in high school but those we were just practice, not the real deal. Now I’ve done something that I couldn’t even imagine doing.
Tell us about that night…
Well, I started work that day at 4:30 a.m. and was busy all day. I am a petroleum inspector so some days are busier than others and that day was a busy one. I was rushing to get to the alley and in fact, I was a little late and only got a few practice balls. I had just drilled the No Rules Pearl the week before and it only had three games on it prior to that night.
Once league started, it started as a normal night. I was just sitting there talking with all my teammates. I was just relaxing and I looked up near the end of the game and realized I had all strikes. I got the first 300 done and then I started getting a lot of texts. Two of my teammates were traveling so they were texting me the entire second game so I really wasn’t paying much attention to the bowling. I looked up in the eighth frame and realized I had the front eight again. I remember thinking, “Am I going to have back to back 300s?”
After they announced the second 300, people in the league were coming down and congratulating and saying, “you have one more game.”
Before that night, I’d have the front eight or front 10 and then my look would just go away. When the third game started, every time I struck I’d take a deep breath. I was thinking “Ok we’re closer. We’re a little bit closer.” The last frame was just crazy.
Walk us through that last frame. What was going through your mind?
Our league has 30 teams and we were on the end pair. Last game during the eighth, ninth, and tenth frame you could have heard a pin drop. It was the most nerve-racking moments of my life besides my kids being born.
Basically, before I set up to throw the last few shots I took a few seconds longer than normal. I just kept thinking, “don’t throw it in the gutter. Don’t get it right too fast and have it go in the gutter. And then on the final shot of the night I told myself, “You’ve thrown 35 strikes already don’t throw it in the gutter.”
I actually projected it a little further right off my hand than I wanted. Lucky for me there was a little bit of burn area that the guys made that made the ball come back and carry.
After it was over, what was your first thought?
Thank god it’s over. I couldn’t believe it. I just looked up and crouched down. I still honestly can’t believe it.
Did you have to move that night?
From the start, I moved about five boards left the entire night. I do walk a little left and come back. Usually it depends on who we’re crossing with. The team we were crossing with (that night) was playing up 10 and up five with balls that were sanded. They were giving me a bump area which ended up helping me on that last strike.
Did you have to tell anyone or did everyone already know when you told them?
After it happened, I didn’t get to my phone for 45 minutes. There were lots of videos. By the time I even got off the approach and everyone congratulated me 20 minutes had passed.
Almost everyone knew, my girlfriend, friends who weren’t there knew. Everyone seemed to know but my parents. When I finally got to tell them they thought something was wrong because I told them to sit down. After I told them they said, “no you didn’t.” They were in shock just like me.
What was it like to step on the lanes after you shot 900?
It was kind of nerve wracking to throw a ball again but it was a relief too. The next time I bowled I subbed on my buddy’s team the next Monday and I started with the front 4 and in the fifth frame we were going to stick him and I missed. He was excited that he didn’t have to buy a round and they were kind of sad the streak ended. I was relieved.
Let’s talk about the No Rules Pearl. What are you going to do with the 900 ball?
That one is on the shelf in On Track Pro Shop. Jeff is building a shelf that he’s going to display it. I already got another one drilled that I bowled with on the first Friday after the 900.
I used to work at a pro shop so I know what I like to drill. Out of all the balls I’ve thrown Storm and Roto Grip has always been the best. Since I’ve come back all I’ve thrown is Storm and Roto Grip.
The No Rules Pearl is the first asymmetric ball that I’ve drilled in I couldn’t tell you how long. I wanted a big pearl to get the ball down the lane and still have some down lane motion. I told my pro shop operator what I was looking for and the No Rules Pearl is what we decided on. I liked the look of it and then I got to throw it, it strikes a lot.
What’s next for you? Any tournaments coming up?
I haven’t been bowling tournaments very much. I kind of put bowling on the back burner a little bit because I had my two sons and I have two step kids. I came back to bowling because I missed it. I truly do love the sport of bowling. Eventually I’d probably like to get back into tournaments.
I have always had life goals in bowling. Shooting 900 was one of them which honestly was more of a dream that I didn’t think was possible. And my other bowling goals are to someday win a PBA title or win an eagle at the USBC Open Championships. I got the hard one out of the way, so hopefully I can get one or maybe both of the other ones done before my bowling career is over.