This past Saturday klk and I took a drive to Asbury Park, NJ to go to the Silver Ball Museum (The Pinball Hall Of Fame). I was unaware that there was a pinball museum so close to New York City (I had previous only known of the National Pinball Museum in Silver Springs, MD)… but last week my friend Brendan sent over the link to their site.
The Silver Ball Museum is located in Asbury Park, NJ, and the drive was surprisingly easy. Asbury Park is a nice little town (edit: I’m getting criticism for this statement…but as far as re-developing goes…it is a nice…slightly abandoned…town…what it comes down to it that I like it), and the block of Cookman St. that the Silver Ball Museum is on is pretty kicking…including a couple cafes, restaurants, the wonderful Paranormal Books and Curiosities, and the future home of the Paranormal Museum! The Silver Ball Museum itself is located in the back of the Speak Easy. The Speak Easy is a music equipment, record, and rock apparel store (we did pick up a 7″ while at Speak Easy, but more on that will come later this week)….you walk in and head to the back…you see the Silver Ball signs, and walk down the steps into a basement filled with pinball machines.
If you have been reading the Great Pumpkin you probably already know that I have been working on The North Brooklyn Pinball Directory, and that pinball is a passion of mine. Most of the machines in Brooklyn seem to be from the late 70′s up til the early 2000′s, but the Silver Ball Museum’s focus is on machines created from 33′-79′!
Typically when you think of museums you think of something that is hands off, and just for looking, but the Silver Ball Museum was 100% hands on. While it might appear to be expensive there are several options for admission:
- $5 for 15 minutes
- $10 for an hour
- $20 for the day
- $50 for the weekend
Admission into the Silver Ball Museum gets you all you can play for the time you are there (and if you haven’t played a pinball machine in a bar lately, you can spend $10 and play the game much less than an hour). The man working the counter let us in, and said “All of the games are on free play…if the machine is turned on all you have to do is find the start button.”
I had pretty high expectations for Silver Ball, and it exceeded my expectations by far. Silver Ball gave me a history lesson in pinball in the best way possible…not only did I get to see how machines have progressed over time, but also experience how they feel during game play. The most interesting thing I learned was that the flippers got much bigger sometime during the 70′s, and this made the game slightly easier…too me honest most of the machines from the 60′s were a little bit too hard.
Almost all of the machines were on (very few out of order…and most of those were marked), and in better condition than I could have ever imagined. It was a great way to spend part of the afternoon, and gave us the opportunity to play a whole lot of machines (they boast 100 of the best from the 60′s and 70′s).
These were some of our favorites:
Those were some of our favorites, but by far the most impressive thing was the amount of machines that you could try.
I’ll be honest, and say that this was my first good experience in New Jersey, and I really enjoy Asbury Park. For fans of pinball in the NY/NJ area I think the Silver Ball Museum is a place you must visit…If I was spending the night out in Asbury Park I could totally get my moneys worth of a full day pass.
Paranormal Books and Curiosities (located at 627 Cookman Avenue) was a wonderful surprise, and we ended up bringing a book and some magazines home with us. One of the best stores specializing in the occult that I have ever seen. They do Ghost Walks, Haunted Investigations, Psychic Readings, and more all out of this shop! Here is a little bit more about the shop:
More than a store, Paranormal Books & Curiosities is a unique experience boutique! Participate in ghost hunting classes and paranormal investigations, view exclusive paranormal art and exhibits, or drop by for guest lectures, book signings and performances held throughout the year. We guarantee you won’t find any place like this in the world!
Paranormal Books & Curiosities also carries a wide variety of hard to find books and regional titles, including the current issue of Weird NJ. And for the paranormal investigator, we stock the latest in ghost hunting equipment and supplies.
I plan on going back to Asbury Park again once the Paranormal Museum opens…their first exhibit will be on the Jersey Devil! And while I’m there I will definitely stop back into the Silver Ball for another hour or so of pinball. This is truly an amazing block in Asbury Park.
The Silver Ball Museum is located at
639 Cookman Ave
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
(in the back of Speak Easy and a couple doors down from Paranormal Books and Curiosities)
Additional Info and Links:
- Silver Ball Pinball Museum
- Paranormal Books and Curiosities (and eventually the Paranormal Museum)
- The North Brooklyn Pinball Directory
- more of my pictures of the Silver Ball Museum here.
- Paranormal Books photo by Shawn Perez via flickr