Silver Ball Chug or The Hazy Remembrances of College Pinball

By redhawk1689

April 29, 2021

This story got frontpaged on May 03, 2021

3 years ago

    It has been 42 years since I first entered the hallowed halls of collegiate academia but even then, I had already become hooked on pinball through our local pinball parlor in my hometown. The year was 1979 and EM machines were starting to be replaced with SS (although I only realized this when the numbers became digital.) Our local group of music majors enjoyed spending time at the local bars and the pinball machine in the back was where we congregated. Some of the great classics (and some not so great) came through about every semester. 

     It wasn't long before our love of pinball and our love of beer were combined into a pretty fun competition which we named,"Silver Ball Chug!" The rules were simple: One person played a ball and the other person(s) had that long to drink a beer! Because beer pitcher prices were $1.50 and a draw was $.25, this worked out rather well! Now, I know what you're thinking: this is a quick way to get "schnocked" and yes, it beat plunking quarters into cups! Actually, it took a bit longer than one might have thought due to the fact that we were pretty decent pinball players (and had a pretty high tolerance for 3.2 beer!) 

    Another interesting fact was that, as we drank a few pints, our game improved! About the time we had each gone through three full games, we began to "feel the flow" of the machine and began to have some pretty impressive numbers! After 4-6 pitchers (8-12 games), we usually called it a night. This went on at least three nights a week all semester long! Toward the end of the semester, we were getting pretty good at that game! 

    That pub wasn't the only pinball machine we played! Our student Union had a Bobby Orr's Power Play that kicked our butts time and time again! It became the game we HAD to beat! I still remeber that one with fondness so much that it's now in my permanent collection and it's STILL a bear to beat! The next four years were filled with pleasant but hazy memories of many of the classic pinball machines of the late 70's and early to mid 80's! 

    As fun as college was, summer was even better! My best friend was the manager of the swimming pool and when he would get done, we'd go play some raquetball and then head out to the bar for (what else?) beer and pinball!! This bar was in my hometown and had two pinball machines but Siver Ball Chug was still our favorite way to play! The longest we ever played was 12 pitchers and 24 games (I definitely don't remember much about that night other than we had an epic match going!) 

    Of course, all good things come to an end and my friend and I graduated and drifted apart. He's now a judge and I'm a teacher (semi-retired.) I got married in the mid 90's and pinball seemed to disappear. Around 2014, I found a High Speed for sale and I remembered it as one of the most fun machines I played in Grad. School, so I bought it! Together with Power Play, they form the core of my home entertainment. 

     I play BKSOR, Stranger Things, Deadpool (all Pro) and other modern machines at our local amusement arcade, which is a wonderful place, and find them to be both innovative and challenging! As long as these incredible machnes are available to play, I will be a "happy camper." However, those classics, like an old friend, are special! I came across an Eight Ball Deluxe alongside a Ghostbusters and some other modern machines and I immediately made a beeline straight to the Eight Ball Deluxe! (*Sigh) ahhh...... good memories!

     My son is now in college and he has become quite proficient at pinball! I can't quite bring myself to teach him about Silver Ball Chug though! These days, I wouldn't last more than one or two games! My pinball play is more finessed and less "bull in a china shop and alcohol is NOT involved anymore. Still, I wouldn't give up those memories for the world!! 

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