Story dated April 14, 2004

It's not often we get an e-mail from a world record holder, but a real live champion of pinball has got in touch to throw down the gauntlet to everyone in the pinball community.

The record holder in question is Ronald M Mowry who claims to be the very first to hold the record for the longest continuous pinball playing session at 72 hours and 8 minutes.  He reached the record time almost 30 years ago playing a Gottlieb Super Soccer game.

Ronald told Pinball News how the marathon session came about.

"In 1974 there was a movie promotion put on by a major radio station. The movie was Tommy.  There were 15 pinball machines at a bar in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla." 

The aim was to set the world record for continuous pinball play.  There was no established record to beat so this was an attempt to set the standard and become the first Pinball Wizard. Would-be contestants had to send in a postcard with their name, address and telephone number and fifteen names from an entry of 35,000 were chosen to compete.  Ronald did not enter the draw and thus was not one of those chosen to play, so he decided to set up his own record attempt.


"I was in a small sandwich shop in Hallendale Beach Fla.  I was representing all the unlucky people that did not have their postcard selected to compete for the world's record!"

The promotion's organisers offered to set up a sixteenth game for Ronald to play but he declined.  He says the method of choosing players by a lottery was illegal at the time, but more importantly, he wanted to set the record in the true pinball way, with no free play  - paying to play if you don't win a replay or match.

"Their machines were rigged for continuous playing where as I had to compete for a free game at all time. There were prizes awarded to their winners - first prize was a Wizard pinball machine, second prize was $250.00 in silver dollars & third prize was a date with Ann-Margret to the opening of the movie Tommy."

Ronald had been training for the record attempt by staying awake for three days and sleeping the next three along with swimming and exercising. "It was fun staying awake that long because I was on the people's team that think that playing pinball is a sport and you must respect the rules of the game."

So one Friday at 7:55pm the first quarter was dropped into the coin slot and the record attempt was under way.  Customers to the shop were asked to sign a sheet confirming that Ronald was still playing during their visit.

President Richard Nixon had recently resigned from office, so Ronald tilted away the first ball to mark the occasion.

He was allowed a five minute break each hour during which he did push-ups, sit-ups and running to keep the blood circulating in his legs. Meals consisted mainly of sandwiches (this was in a sandwich shop, remember) and were eaten during play.

The record was finally set after 709 games when he had to stop playing to avoid physical injury. "I was convinced by the paramedics to stop playing because I was losing feeling in my legs and they started to swell.  I didn't win their prize but I beat them all and set the record of 72hrs and 8min of constant playing of a pinball machine."

As with the first ball, Ronald tilted away the last ball to commemorate the President's resignation. No other tilts occurred during the session.

Playing for all that time used up plenty of quarters.  Despite winning 145 free games, over $100 went into the coin slot during the pinball marathon - $20 of Ronald's own money, $35 from the sale of movie star patches and the remainder was given by well-wishers.  The money was was then donated to the Big Brothers & Big Sisters Association.

Getting the feat recognised by the Guinness Book Of Records was more of a challenge. The publishers in New York rejected the submission saying pinball was considered by Guinness to be a non-competitive sport and therefore ineligible.

The best hope for a legitimate pinball endurance record now rests with the Twin Galaxies organisation who chart the top scores of video and pinball competitions.  The next edition of their Official Video Game & Pinball Book Of World Records will include Ronald's achievement.

And now, almost 30 years after the record was set, Ronald is inviting pinball players around the world to try to beat his record.  "Play the game like the sport that is.
You put the money in the slot and push the button. The game begins when you release the spring. You can not delay; you must start playing, no stalling. Now, at the end of the game you either win a free game by score or match. Not doing that you must feed the machine and play again. You keep doing this for 72hrs &9min, you will have beaten my record!"

So, are you ready for the challenge?  Could you play continuously for more that three days or perhaps you've already beaten the record? 

Ronald has this message for you: "I Ronald M. Mowry here by challenge the world to beat my record of 72hrs and 8min. I set the record 30 years ago and it's time to get it

If you're man (or woman) enough, get in touch with us here at Pinball News and stake your claim to a piece of pinball history.


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