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Meeting the Man Who Saved Pinball

By JustEverett

January 29, 2020

8 months ago

It was August 3rd, 2019, the third day of Pinburgh 2019. I had a rough go at my first ever Pinburgh missing E finals by a couple spots. D division is commonly referred to as the Drinking Division, and E, the Excessive drinking division, was not where I planned to end up. I was pretty unhappy with my play throughout the whole tournament but making the most of the extensive games PAPA has on available during Pinburgh. 

I have an affinity for tracking down and playing games I've never played before, so Pinburgh offered a non-stop "first flip" opportunity for me. I was spending the day basically walking up and down each row of pins looking for games I'd never seen. I noticed Cyclopes earlier in the event and made a mental note to get back over to flip it at some point. I was particularly interested in Cyclopes for a few reasons: rarity, playfield layout, and my one experience with the game. I had seen a Cyclopes sell at auction in Wichita for $5,000, which seemed to be an absurd price for such an old game that wasn't in particularly good shape. This seemed especially so considering the prior year's pricing guide had the value at $750. The layout also seemed pretty unique having the left sling replaced with a pop bumper which increased my intrigue. 

Each time I passed the game it seemed to have a line or group of people playing it, but finally I noticed it was not being played and walked up. I hit the start button when from behind me, a tap on my left shoulder and a quiet polite voice said, "do you mind if I join you?" To my astonishment, I turned around and the inquiring fellow player was none other than Roger Sharpe! 

I'm never one to turn down a fellow pinball player’s request to join a game, and this request I was definitely not going to turn down. I added the second player and proceeded to play my first ball. Roger proceeded to tell me about designing the game during the Game Plan days. I had no idea he designed the game, and honestly, I was a little star struck. Though there was really no reason to be star struck given Sharpe's very polite and pleasant deminer, but I think the total randomness of him just asking to join my game when I didn't even know he was around played into my response. Afterall, I'm standing there playing pinball with the man who saved pinball on a game he cool is that? We played what seemed to be a very fast game with Roger starting the multiball on ball 3 and absolutely annihilating my score. 

That game became the highlight of my first trip to Pinburgh. Rarely if ever, would a player have the opportunity for something like that to happen, but it happens at Pinburgh. Cyclopes was great, but meeting Roger Sharpe was an experience I'll never forget. 

Story photos

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7 months ago

Thanks for sharing. I would be Star Struck also.

7 months ago

@2manypins, yeah and when I told him I was star struck, he dismissed it by saying something like, “ha don’t be.” It was wild.

7 months ago

Did you whoop him tho?

7 months ago

If you had gone further in the tournament, might you have missed the game with Roger Sharpe?

7 months ago

Cool! Would have been good to win but great to have a game with the legend anyway.
I wasn't familiar with Cyclopes so I checked it out on the IPDB.
Looks like a great layout with a pop bumper instead of a left slingshot, like the new Rick and Morty.
Roger sounds like a top bloke.

7 months ago it wouldn't have mattered. Cyclopes was a tourney game, so I only managed to get on it after the tournament was done.

7 months ago

@DirtyDeeds, yeah great locks on Cylopes and the lower pop is cool. Sharpe was a cool cat for sure.

7 months ago

Very cool story. Thanks for sharing that with us.

7 months ago

You got to play on an ultra-rare 400-unit machine against a legendary guy who designed the machine! How many of us can make a claim like that? I hope you took a selfie with him. He’s such a nice guy I know he would’ve gladly agreed. If that happened to me, the photo would be prominently displayed in my game room.

7 months ago

Very cool experience, thanks for sharing!

7 months ago

I had the pleasure of playing against Roger in several of the early PAPA tourneys (when his sons were these little kids doing well in the Junior division).
A really nice guy and a total class act.

7 months ago selfie unfortunately. Definitely the coolest experience of my pinball life.

7 months ago

I have a sharp shooter by game plan with roger Sharpe on the backglass.
I find game plan to have awesome backglasses in general. Cyclops is a very cool one.

7 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

6 months ago

Cool story. I met him at the inaugural Pintastic show in Sturbridge, MA. I was playing the game to the right of the one he was playing; coincidentally, a Gottlieb "Sure Shot" (he made the "shot heard 'round the pinball world" on the add-a-ball version, "Bank Shot"). As one of his balls drained, I glanced toward him,and quietly said "I bet you can't make that center rollover shot". He knowingly smirked, shot the ball, and damn if he didn't make it!

6 months ago

That's an awesome story @jrpinball. I played in a group next to him at Pinburgh that year too. He was very funny carrying around a towel to wipe off the machine before he played each ball. Maybe he was ahead of the curve now that this coronavirus is going around.

5 months ago

Awesome story and lifetime memory!

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