I Ball…Do you Ball?

How is a pinball tournament like a cycling race? It’s likely your competitors are on performance enhancing drugs, and like Lance Armstrong, all it takes is one ball.

Entrance leading to Add-a-Ball

Words here are sparse, aside from “Nice ball” and “I’ll take another Mickeys, please.”

Come as you are. Your fellow compatriots won’t even bat an eye if you show up wearing an orange silk smoking jacket, Hugh Heffner style (yes I really saw this).

At these joints high rollin’ means you have a pocketful of quarters at your disposal.

This is Add-a-Ball, Fremont’s premier (and only) pinball arcade.  Tucked underneath Fremont’s Piece of Mind, the game emporium consists of three petite rooms jam-packed with 25 coin-operated machines from the 1950′s to present.

Pretentious naysayers proclaimed this pinball joint was too niche and obscure of an idea and would only attract stoners and misfits.  They may be onto something as far as the latter part, but either way, screw’em all  because Add-a-Ball is proving that craft cocktails and hipster joints aren’t the only game in town.

In fact, Add-a-Ball recently celebrated its 1st anniversary.  In November 2012, owners Brad Johnsen and Travis Echert expanded their operation by opening a sibling pinball joint in a loft space on Capitol Hill called John John’s Game Room.

To flex your competitive muscle, show up on a Tuesday night in Cap Hill or on Wednesday night in Fremont to partake in the weekly tourney.  Beginners are welcome, and for a $5 buy in, you may even go neck-in-neck with some of the highest ranked players in the world.

As my man was heading out the door to his beloved Fremont pinball haven last night, I ask him why a room filled with pinball games attracts such a loyal following.  His response: “Because Analog will always beat Digital.”

Upstairs loft at Capital Hill's pinball mecca: Pinballin' in solitude is said to be good for the soul

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

  • Hours: 4pm-close everyday
  • Can I bring my kid?  Only if your little rascal is 21 years old or older.
  • Do chicks go?  Oh Ya, in fact couples are known to come here on first dates.
  • Is there food?  Sort of…Vending machines with microwave popcorn and candy sound more appealing as the night goes on,  but I would advise eating before you get there.
  • What is the attire?  Anything goes.  Dark-colored hoodies are typical.  If you want to impersonate yourself as last night’s pinball champion, go with some camouflage pants, a black hoodie, and adorn yourself with a monster head of red hair.
  • I saw some dudes hitting and shaking the games.  Is that okay? Yes. The games all tilt at some point and drain your ball, but up to that point you gotta do all you can to keep that ball alive. As Brad says of Dragonfist, “You really gotta slap the shit outta this one.”

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