By In Stuff




Those sneaky editors at Our State Magazine — which really is a fantastic magazine in North Carolina — have been trying to get me to write for them now and again. This is really flattering but problematic because I don’t really have time for any more work. I can’t even get to the last 30-some players on my Greatest Baseball Player project.

But, those editors, they know what they’re doing. They call up and slyly say, “Hey, we want you to go the Pinball Museum in Asheville and spend a whole day playing pinball.”

Is it even possible to say no to that?

Apparently not. Here’s what I wrote.

All Are Arcade Wizards — Our State Magazine.


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14 Responses to Pinball

  1. dlf9 says:

    Loved the nostalgia. I never really got into pinball, but there was a 7-11 a couple miles from my house when I was a kid that had a Ms. Pacman and Donkey Kong in a little side room. My younger brother and I would ride our bikes there and play until our quarters ran out. And once, on a slow day a the convenience store, the manager came over and reset the machines to let us play for free. I was in geeky 13 year old heaven.

  2. RickyB says:

    Correct. You cannot say no to that. The Addams Family machine is very good, but I would love the chance to play Whirlwind one more time. I got hooked on pinball machines when playing a baseball conference tournament outside of Myrtle Beach. When we weren’t playing, I was at the arcades going to town on the various pinball machines there. But Whirlwind will always be my favorite. Had a fan at the top of the machine that would start spinning and blow in your face for different reasons. And to actually make that machine explode was one of the great joys of my adolescence.

  3. DjangoZ says:

    I remember Hercules very well from my childhood. My local arcade had one near the entrance. Every couple weeks I would put two quarters in (TWO!) and try to play it. It never really worked. 🙂

    • Andrew says:

      Nah, the action is very slow. I still play it once in a while at FunSpot, a giant New Hampshire arcade with a world-class pinball museum. A waste of a buck, really.

      The bat-and-ball games like “World Series” are a big favorite of mine. No more transcendent feeling than catching the marble just right and lofting in onto the stadium roof. I feel like Reggie Friggin’ Jackson in Detroit, 1971.

  4. haIonine says:

    Pinball and pedophile-enabling football coaches: The two subjects Joe Posnanski just can’t say no to.

  5. Jesse K. says:

    My favorite actor, Edward G. Robinson, starred in a 1930s film called “Bullets or Ballots” as a New York City racketeer-fighting detective. Pinball is one of the evils used by the racketeers to squeeze money from honest citizens. In one scene, some racketeers visit a drugstore across from a school playground and offer to set up a pinball machine in the store. The owner defiantly refuses, because it would be stealing the kids’ lunch money.

  6. Shagster says:

    Quarters. Paper routes. Summertime. Pinball machines. Empty wallet. A chest rash from belly riding a raft and this man is my lighter twin. Nice read.

  7. Fred says:

    Joe, huge pinball fan. It’s funny in the context of this story and a bit depressing overall that when you use the phrase “hopelessly turn of the century naive” you are referring to the time between the 19th and 20th century. There was actually been another turn of the century 15 years ago! It is a real differentiation among those around about 30 years old or so which one springs to mind when you use the phrase. I used it in a talk I recently gave, referring to something from about 1902, and attendees gleefully pointed it out to me as a sign of my advanced age. Keep up the good work.

  8. Daniel says:

    Joe, I love the fact that you’re finding time to write an article for Our State every now and then. My favorite magazine and my favorite writer. I especially loved your article a few months ago about going to your first concert.

    I didn’t think the writing at Our State could get any better than it already was but then you started writing for them!

  9. wogggs says:

    What a tremendous article. When I was a kid in Kansas City, our neighbors had a Miami Dolphins pinball machine in the basement. I loved that thing. It had pictures of football players and bikini clad girls on it. Oddly, the two boys who lived there were bored with it, along with the jukebox and the pool table. The rest of us could not understand how that could be.

  10. MCD says:

    I’m a huge pinball fanatic from way back. Regrettably, farther back than I even realized. Ice Fever? Terminator 2? Judge Dredd? Nearly all the machines in the article are from the era after video games had supplanted them as the arcade choice for kids and teens everywhere. Addams Family might have had one of the largest production runs ever, but I can’t for the life of me believe it was the “most popular”. Any pinball that has LED numbers instead of the analog “flip” numbers can’t be treated as a “real” pinball machine. (shakes fist, shouts “get off my lawn!”) For the record, I have played a lot of LED machines that I loved.

  11. moogro says:

    I played Mata Hari, Black Knight et al. all the way through Addams Family and few years after that. Addams Family was the first game that made think seriously about the design of a pinball machine. It’s beautiful, and fair. When you’re on, a quarter can last hours. When you’re making mistakes, it’s still a good short ride.

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