Pinball & The Community

Pinball is many things to many people.  It can be a fun pastime, a business, a hobby or a competitive event.  It also can be used to benefit others as recent events have shown.  Whether to raise funds for past giants in the field (Python Anghelo, Barry Ousler) who have fallen on hard times or to help out sick children (Project Pinball Charity), using tournaments or high score contests to raise funds for charity is a win for everyone involved.  I would much rather help out and have fun doing it than just write a check.

 Pinball Charity

Over four years ago I lost my brother Paul to pancreatic cancer.  While not a serious player he did like a good game of pinball and he and my other brothers played a large part in my love of the game.  As a child playing with them on our yearly vacation to Ocean City MD and later at my brother Den’s house kindled my passion for the game.  Around 2003 I bought my first game and found that machines were like potato chips, you can’t have just one.  2005 brought hurricane Katrina and the Free State Pinball Association’s Katrina Benefit Tournament, another example of pinball helping out.  I attended just because I wanted to play the games, not compete.  I was then invited to join the FSPA league and I have been a competitor and collector ever since.

With all that in mind I created the Paul Giblin Memorial Pinball Tournament in 2011.  The American Cancer Society seemed the logical beneficiary.

Pinball Charity

Holding a pinball tournament in a small townhouse seemed daunting at first but with the help of many people I held the first event in June of 2011.  It was a limited tournament of 21 players as that was the number I felt I could comfortably host for a serious competition.

Pinball Charity

7 games were used in the tourney and everyone played each game once in 3 player matches.Match-ups were randomized as was play order but no one played the same player more than once.

Pinball Charity

Of course every tournament needs a director and a tech.

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The top 5 players advanced with the top seed getting a bye.  An elimination round was held to get the 4 finalists, you don’t have to win, you just can’t lose.

Pinball Charity

Competition was always very spirited and all the matches were hard fought.

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Previous year’s winners.

Pinball Charity

Along with the tournaments the raffle was a major source of donations.

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The miniature paper pinball machines are a popular raffle prize every year.

Pinball Charity

Many companies and individuals donated items for the raffles.  Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, PAPA, many members of the FSPA and various vendors at shows all helped.

Thanks to all the organizations and individuals who have supported these events.

Big thanks also go to all the players, raffle ticket buyers and individual donators who made this all possible.  I could not have raised these funds without you.

Thanks to my brother Brian for helping run the tournament, my nephew Josh for designing the plaques and my brother Den and Dave Stewart for the seeding chart.

In the four years of holding this event just under $5000 has been raised for the American Cancer Society.

Pinball Charity

So as you can see pinball can make a difference to better the community.  I plan to continue to hold this event and have a great time honoring the memory of my brother and raising money for a worthy cause.

More pictures of the events can be found here:

Gregg Giblin

Free State Pinball Association