Buzzers and Bells

Pinball devotees form Morgantown's first competitive league dedicated to the classic arcade game.

A few years back, Scott Reppert found himself wondering about the initials he often saw on the leaderboards of pinball machines around Fairmont and Morgantown. He decided these pinball wizards should get to know one another in the flesh.

Reppert organized his first tournament in July 2014, which led to the formation of the Mountaineer Pinball Association. Now the association has formed Morgantown’s first-ever pinball league. The inaugural 12-week season began on January 3. Players will compete in tournaments each Tuesday until March 14, when a finals bracket will determine the league champion.

League play alternates between Mundy’s Place on Madigan Avenue, which has older pinball tables from the ’70s and ’80s, and Starport Arcade on High Street, which features more modern machines. “For old guys like me—I’m 56—it’s something that I’ve done all my life. Pinball takes me back to a happier time,” Reppert says. But the game also draws plenty of younger players, who enjoy the unique challenges this old-school game presents. “This is not as controllable or predictable as a video game,” he says.

To make the finals, players must compete in at least eight of the season’s 12 weeks. But Reppert says anyone is welcome to come check out the scene and play some pinball. “There’s no real cut-off date,” Reppert says. “You can join anytime.”

The game requires skill, but there’s a fair amount of luck involved, too. Once, Reppert beat the 12th-ranked player in the world. “And then I’ve been beaten by a 12-year-old girl. It can go either way.”

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