Hello everyone, My name is Chris Parra.
Pinball is in my blood. Pinball has been in my life ever since I can remeber. I was lucky enough to compete in Bally's First National Pinball Tournament in the late 70's at the Playboy Hotel in downtown Chicago. Out of 20 nation wide contestants, I placed 3rd. I won a Datsun B210 Hatchback and a pinball machine. Second place won a Datsun 200SX and a pin. First place won a 280Z and a pin.
It is the highlight of my life needless to say.
Here's how it unfolded:
It was late 1977 and I was 16 at the time, living in Burnsville,a suburb south of Minneapolis. Me and some friends hung out at the Burnsville Center mall. There was a arcade in there called Alladins Castle. One day they had a pinball contest for weekly winners. I won like the third week. I won some albums I think. The next tournament were the weekly winners for the mall winner. I won that and won a CB Radio and a trip to Chicago and The Playboy Club Hotel for the SuperShooter tournament.
Since I was a minor my father went with me. We arrived in Chicago by plane and was picked up at the airport by a limo and driven to the Playboy Club. After we checked in I opened my room and there was a fresh copy of Playboy on my bed! A 16 year olds dream come true!
In the hotel they had a room full of pins for us to practice on the day before the tournament and I can remeber turning over the scoring digits and people were watching. It was really a big deal back then.
When the tournament started, it was in the ballroom. There was all kinds of press there. I remeber getting interviewed by Sports Illustrated and High Times Magazine but have never found the articles. Trying to play was hard because of the press's flashbulbs going off constantly glaring off the table's glass. There were a few bunnies roaming the floor too. So yes, hard to concentrate.
There were like 8 different machines all Bally of course. I do remember one being 8-Ball. The also debued The "Playboy" machine which was under a sheet waiting to be revealed. They told us we couldnt even touch it before debut. The promoters were very serious about this.
So my Dad was at the bar with some friends he knew in Chicago and I was kicking butt. It was me and this other dude in the top 2. Then from no where this kid passed me and I ended getting 3rd Place.
I have attached some pictures of news paper articles, and my trophy.
About 25 years later I found a youtube video from the tournament. It really freaked me out when I saw it. All my family calling it "my video" because it only shows me winning and holding up my car keys and trophy. They never showed the first or second place winners. Heres the link:
I like to get out and play when I can, if I can find pins anymore these days, but fortunatley found this group and since I live in Raleigh I guess Boxcar and Hero's are my closest choices!
I look forward to meeting you all and hearing other stories!