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Monday, March 30th, 2015

Pinball, an Activity for People Too Lazy to Bowl, Becomes a Team Sport in New York City



Roger Daltrey, the Pinball Wizard

“All it takes is one good ball” – Unofficial motto of the Pinball NYC League

Okay, so it’s more physical that chess.  But not by much.  There is a ball involved, so it can arguably be included in the modern definition of sport.  Regardless, the official game of the ’70s – pinball – is back with a vengence in New York City.  And now it’s become a team game.

The league is called Pinball NYC, and it’s run by Kristopher Medina, a guy who loves pinball at least as much as Roger Daltrey.  His team, by the way, is called the Cartel.  According to the New York Times:

While it may seem quaint and nostalgic now, pinball has surprisingly illicit roots: It was declared illegal in New York City in 1942 because the machines were considered gambling devices, and according to news reports at the time police officers seized some 3,200 machines.

…the law was finally overturned in 1976, when a 26-year old pinball wizard named Roger Sharpe predicted — and made — a predetermined shot in a courtroom, thus proving that pinball was not, in fact, a game of chance.

The league is currently comprised of 40 members on 5 teams, though Medina is looking to grow those numbers.  They play at their favorite bars – that have serviceable machines, of course – and challenges can come from players at any time.  They compete as individuals to score points for their team.

On a recent Monday the Sofa King Suite (Bar Great Harry’s team) challenged the Cartel at its home bar, Kettle of Fish. Chris Dwyer, a Sofa King player, has been a pinball enthusiast since he was 13 or 14. “It’s cheaper than going to therapy,” he said. “I can let my thoughts drift away and concentrate on the ball. It’s hypnotic.”

It might not be especially physical.  It might not be especially cool.  But it does sound like a lot of fun.  And just imagine, you can play with a plate of Buffalo wings within scant feet of the machine.  In fact, you could probably one-hand the flippers while sucking down a few drummettes…if you think you’re really that good…punk.

[PhotoSource: Ken Russell]

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