Ever since I was a young boy

I played the silver ball.

When I was young I spent an inordinate—nay—an unhealthy amount of time playing pinball. I became an expert. I honed this useless skill in arcades, bowling alleys and, when I got old enough, bars. I was a bit of a delinquent, but not the dangerous kind. More like the loser kind.

You can get laid if you’re good with a pool cue. Billiards has a dark, poetic panache. They make movies and write books about pool players. But nobody gives a shit about pinball. Or bowling, for that matter. Anyway, technology marched on and my skill with the flippers became irrelevant.

Try to imagine my raw joy when I got news that Silver Ball Museum and Pinball Hall of Fame opened on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. They use to be located in a dank basement in downtown Asbury Park but now they’re right on the boardwalk. $10 bucks gets you an hour of play. Heaven!

Imagine a big room filled with working pinballs, all segregated by era. There are a few historical models from the ’40s and ’50s and a healthy representation of machines from the ’60s and ’70s. That cool cat in the bowling shirt is one of the owners and the other guy is a mechanic. My heros. [This is a partial view. It’s more than twice as big as what you see here.]

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Click on this pic and check out the artwork on the glass. Fantastic. It’s from the 60’s and suppose to be The Beatles. It’s very beatnik and hipster. Actually, if you care about this stuff at all, click on all the pics.

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This was one of my top three favorite pinballs to play. Fireball. When I saw it, I got a lump in my throat and longed for a big bong hit. It has a spinning disk in the center that sends your ball off into odd angles. Release Odin! My other two favorites are Satin Doll (which they don’t have yet) and Evil Knievel (which they do).

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Here’s a couple oldies. I remember playing Big Star (mumble-mumble) years ago.

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Many of the machines have placards that explain the history of that model; the designer, the artist, who manufactured it and how many were made. This is important stuff! I was a big fan of OXO and also played Space Mission. Space Mission came out when Skylab was orbiting the earth. How timely.

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When I told 8-Year Old Daughter I played pinball last night, she said, “What’s pinball?” My skills, by the way, have greatly diminished.