California Pinball Addict (recovering Moto addict)

By HEAD_boss_HOG

February 15, 2021

This story got frontpaged on February 16, 2021

3 years ago

Hello Pinside!  Thank you for being such a great community full of awesome people.  My pinball story goes back decades.  I have always loved arcades, and especially pinball.  in my early years, arcades were the best!  i would usually go in with only $5 in quarters, so i had to be conservative.  i always played street fighter, cabal, defender, after burner, and blood brothers if available.  when i wanted to splurge, i would play pinball.  pinball was always more expensive to play, so i could rarely afford more than one game, unfortunately!  Some nights I would pay 10 bucks for unlimited pinball, at a Boomers in Vista, CA.  It was paradise!  I would play TONS of TAF, BOP, and T2.  I never developed any real skill during my youth; I was plenty satisfied just to keep the ball alive and enjoy the music and lights.  the feeling of hitting shots was addictive to me.  When I was 9 years old, my family moved to Fallbrook, CA, where I met a good friend through a local baseball league.  i was lucky enough that my good friend owned Gilligans Island Pinball, which was set up in his bedroom.  I was amazed that anyone could own a pinball game.  I was addicted to that game, and insisted that we play it every time i went to his house.  He was more or less ambivalent about the game; he did not really love pinball.  I found out that my friend's  uncle is John Youssi, acclaimed pinball artist for bally/williams, stern, and now Jersey Jack.  Mr. Youssi had given my friend the Gilligans Island Pinball as a gift.  What a lucky kid!!!  So, for years, I got to play GI for free, which furthered my love for pinball.  pinball was always appealing because it is so interactive and the action is non stop.  I loved the mechanical action, lights, sounds and interactivity of a pinball machine.  As I got into my teen years, and arcades began to disappear, and the existing arcades carried fewer and fewer pinballs, because of operating and maintenance costs, my love for pinball was on hold.  I got more into Nintendo, Xbox, and PS, as there seemed to be no more pinballs to play :(.  I also became addicted to riding dirtbikes, and learning how to work on them.  I am a tinkerer, like many of us on this site.

It's crazy that, from 1999 until 2014, I literally played maybe 20 games of pinball, randomly at a game center once in a while.  Pinball was GONE, and I hardly noticed.  I had no money to buy a game of my own, so finding a game to play was impossible.  Finally i grew up and got a real job in 2010, and I began to explore how to get back into pinball.  I found a couple games to play at Gameworks in CA (Southpark and Nascar), but they were in disrepair, and not alot of fun for that reason.  CA had become a pinball desert, and I didn't have any friends who shared my interest, or owned any games to play.  In 2016, i discovered Arcade Expo at the Museum of Pinball in Banning CA, not far from my home, and fell back in love with pinball and arcade games and the culture instantly.  walking into the MOP was like going back in time.  I even remember the SMELL of the arcade at the MOP (distinct electronics smell, with dusty accents), and the sounds of the arcade collection were exhilerating.  I could not believe that one location could harbor 500 pinball machines.  It was PARADISE!!!  after going to two arcade expos (2016 and 2017), i decided i must buy a pinball machine for my garage.  i first bought Asteroids and Cabal Stand up arcades for really cheap.  i figured i didnt have enough money for a nice or even acceptable pinball.  Then i looked at my motorcycle collection woefully.  i barely had time to ride anymore, and figured i should sell some bikes to raise money for a pinball.  within three weeks, I sold three dirtbikes and had the money for my first two pinball machines!  my first pin purchase was a Cue Ball Wizard from @cosmokramer in Riverside.  i bought my Lethal Weapon 3 the next day!  my collection had begun!  

months later, i discovered i was losing interest in arcade games and gravitating towards the pinballs.  so, i sold my standup arcades and saved for more pins.  i was lucky to find a Sega Viper Night Drivin' in good shape and a johnny mnemonic from @cosmokramer for sale.  finally, i also got lucky meeting @magicsmoke, who sold me a Road Show.  Now i am fully addicted, helpless to fight the urges to keep collecting and play incessantly.  my motocross days seems to be dwindling, and my pinball nights are ever increasing.  I still ride dirtbikes, but it's more for the desert trips with the kids and simple basic recreation than it used to be.

I am grateful to have discovered the best hobby a man with small children can enjoy!  i can play at home whenever i want, and stay home with the kids in the process to ensure they're ok.  I love to host game nights and make new friends who share the love for Pinball.  I am blessed to have made GREAT friends who are so generous to teach me about pinball repair/maintenance, and I am proud to be a volunteer Technician at the MOP.  There is no greater privilege than to be able to work on the immense pinball collection at the MOP, and to help with events like Arcade Expo (held in March annually;, Pinballl Madness (held in October annually;, and INDISC (held in January annually;    i have so  much fun playing pinball, working on games at MOP, talkking shop, podcasting about pinball (, anticipating new games, and unboxing my own NIB games.  I feel like the luckiest man alive!

I want to express my sincere thanks to all the pinball people out there who share this passion.  i am happy to see a revival of our shared passion, and an industry being created around us.  i am happy to see new pinballs all the time and have the privilege to play at the museum of pinball.  what a time to be alive!  I hope you enjoy pinball as much as I do; it is really a game changer, and truly the cleanest fun a guy or girl can enjoy!  I hope someday to pass my games onto my son, Hunter, who is blossoming into a decent pinball player himself.  I can't wait to show him everything I know, and share the endless joy of pinball at every turn.

Thanks for reading :)

Boss Hog

Story photos

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3 years ago

Thanks for sharing! Love the passion in this hobby.

3 years ago

Great Story, Thanks for sharing it.

2 years ago

Awesome story. I’m so itchy to go buy my first pin. This story definitely didn’t help. I too love motocross and pinball and have a 9 month old son. Can’t wait to his party nights too.

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