first pin

first pin

By dcannan

November 19, 2017


26 days ago

My father considered pinball to be a waste of money, and would not give me the dime needed to play. I occasionally spent my own money but never had enough to play much. In college in the seventies I read the Playboy article showing Hef infront a Fireball  his favorite pin,  in the gameroom of the Playboy mansion. My college had it in it's gameroom,  and I became addicted to it. After college I  occasionally played, but not much. In the early eighties while on family vacation I met an operator empting coins in the hotel gameroom. I asked him about Fireball, the only game name I remembered at that time. He stated that his father had been in the business for fifty years, and they had a barn full of old games but he hated selling them as they generally just sold before Christmas and he had people  call him on Christmas day because a lamp had burned out. When I asked about Fireball he didn't know the name, but when I described the backglass he stated he thought they might have three in the barn. When I told him I lived a couple hundred miles away and would expect nothing after the sale, he agreed to sell me one for $200. At that time I had no way to get it home. The operator said he and his friends fished Lake Ontario every fall very close to me and that he could bring me one when they did. Come fall I started trying to contact him. He never answered the phone. but I left messages about the Salmon run and reminding him of my interest in a Fireball. He finally answered his phone in December and told me sorry someone had recently been through the barn and purchased all three that they had. Well Santa didn't leave one under my tree, and I forgot it for a couple of months but the need to find one was in my head and a few months latter I started to call amusement companies from the yellow pages only to be told things like you should have been looking last year we got rid of all  EM stuff, or we dumpstered all of that vintage crap. Finally one of them said "let me give you the name of a collector that might be able to help me."  I thought some one collects pinball machines, must be a strange person. I contacted him and when I told him what I wanted he told me every collector would like a Fireball and I would be lucky to find one for $1000. He did have a three machines for sale all under $200. I  left in the early evening to see what he had, It was amazing he had a couple dozen machines, and I did not get home till almost midnight.  My wife who was eight and half months pregnant was very mad, " What if I had gone into labor?" I knew I had been a jerk but also knowing she could go on for hours about what might have happened. I went to my dresser and put on the pager they had recently given me at work and said you could have paged me if you needed. I didn't like lying but I needed to be to work in a few hours, and I admitted to the lie the next day when she had cooled down. A couple of days later I decided to buy one of the pins he had offered me. Left early Saturday afternoon stating that I wouldn’t be long as he was not far. Several hours later when I came home with my Dimension she was not talking to me. Figuring this was better than the reception I was expecting I just took my new machine to the basement set it up and began enjoying it. Several neighbors and friends came to see my new toy but not my wife. We went to bed with her still not talking to me. A couple of hours latter I felt her getting up. I normally would have been excited asking is it time to go to the hospital?  I pretended to still be asleep, waiting, heard the toilet flush, but then she didn't come back to bed.  Just a few minutes later she did come back to bed, jabbed me and stated "That’s a fine pinball machine you bought I put my quarter in and didn’t get a game. Needless to say, that quarter still resides in that pin. I've owned a couple of hundred pins buying and selling to build my collection. I still own a few dozen and need to thin the collection but if I was to save just one em it would be Dimension. Not just because it was my first, but it is one of the best most fun add a ball games I've owned.

Story photos

pinball2 (resized).jpg
pinball1 (resized).jpg


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