It’s Roger Sharpe, the man who saved pinball.
The Start Button: How did you first get into pinball?
My ‘official’ start was when I was a student at the University of Wisconsin although as I recount in my book, I was standing on an orange crate to play a game. However that first game was actually a pitch/bat baseball game. Growing up in Chicago there were no pinball machines since it was outlawed and my only other experience was during visits along with my parents to see my older sister at the University of Illinois.
The Plunge: What was the first pinball machine you bought?
I originally wanted to buy HURDY GURDY which was the first machine I ever ‘turned’ but instead, I purchased the game that vexed me the most. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the add-a-ball but BUCKAROO was my first.
The Skill Shot: What is your best pinball achievement or favorite pinball moment?
I, admittedly, have so many personal ‘bests’ probably led by what my sons have been able to achieve in support of pinball and the passion that they bring to the entire world of pinball. Obviously, the stamina and commitment to take three years in doing my pinball book, testifying in New York City and the opportunity to design my very first pinball machine–SHARPSHOOTER. And the list goes on…
Good Shots, Bad Bounces: What is your favorite and least favorite pinball machine?
My favorites tend to span all eras going back to the ’32 Mills Official that I own as well as the games I had the privilege to design. I am humbled and flattered that my boys count CYCLOPES as their favorite machine. But for me, each of my games are special along with all that are in my collection and those that I wished I owned. As for a least favorite, I really don’t have any. There are definitely games that I have played over these many decades that didn’t necessarily appeal to me but I have always thought that any game, no matter how ‘bad’ it might be deemed by the public at large, there is always going to be at least one person who is going to like it–such is the world of pinball.
The Wizard Mode: What is your dream theme you’d like to see made into a pinball machine?
Since I haven’t given up the thought of designing another game at some point, I will hold that answer for what may well emerge down the road.
The Tilt: What is the dumbest mistake you’ve made in pinball (mishap moving a machine, messing up trying to fix a machine, etc.)?
Okay, taking this question with the ‘mishap moving a machine’ to heart–it has to be moving a game on the carpeted convention floor while at Williams Bally/Midway and blowing out a disc in my back. If I had to do it all over again, I would have waited for some extra hands to help.
The High Score: Describe the pinball hobby in one word.
Match – Next Game: Where do you see the pinball hobby in 5-10 years?
Still growing and embracing the newest technological and mechanical wonders in personal collections; more machines in commercial operation and a world where competitive pinball is a sport with millions of participants and followers.