What’s that sound? It’s a long overdue article about our Pinball Ambassador for 2016!
In December 2016, we held a poll to nominate and then elect a ‘Pinball Ambassador’ for 2016 – our little way to combat some of the negativity in the hobby. We had an outstanding response and complied a long list of wonderful folks as nominees for the title. Ultimately, the winner, BY A LANDSLIDE, was Nicholas (pin)Baldridge of For Amusement Only – The E.M. & Bingo Pinball Podcast.
(Photo courtesy of someone. Found during a Google image search.)
WHY WAS NICK NOMINATED/ELECTED? Well, that’s why I’m writing to you all today. It’s time to shovel accolades on the most humble genius in the hobby. Nick is a young-ish dude with a very old soul. Most of us like pinball not only for what is now, but for the nostalgia and fun we derived from playing in our childhood or younger years. What makes Nick unique is that he THRIVES on games that existed BEFORE HE DID. Nick is one of the leading authorities on EM Pinball and coin-op machines, sure, but he’s REALLY a leading authority on electromechanical bingo machines. Most pinball people have never even seen a working bingo machine, nevertheless played one. They were commercially successful for decades, but the bingo industry completely died off in the 70’s. I don’t mean in the way pinball died off in the 90’s and only 1-2 games a year came out… I mean NO MORE BINGOS (though I think some bingo game came out ‘recently’, more on that later.) That means Nick became an authority on a subject he wasn’t even alive to experience firsthand when it was a viable industry. He’s like those dudes on Pawn Stars that are 32 years old and get called in when someone finds a sword from the 1400’s, because they’re experts in their field.
Nick is like DaVinci. He sleeps 20 minutes a day and never stops moving. He’s brought many games back to life, and maintained even more to keep them running and entertaining people for years to come. I only recently met Nick in person (less than a month ago), but we’ve been friends on Facebook for several years. Nick doesn’t just return some messages when I’ve had issues with EM games, he’s literally talked me through some issues on the phone in the middle of the night. He’s just a swell guy, and he’s honestly interested in keeping these games alive, even long-distance.
(Nick in 2D by Ryan Claytor. Also courtesy of Google Image Search)
Nick has hosted a couple podcasts, but is most well know for his show For Amusement Only – The E.M. & Bingo Pinball Podcast, a show that EXCLUSIVELY discusses electromechanical games. In fact, Nick was a guest on our podcast (Episode 63 – possibly my personal favorite episode) and he was excited to talk about NOT EM GAMES. Not only does he still release an episode every two weeks, he also released an episode EVERY DAY for a year straight! That’s right, his first 365 episodes were released daily, in order. And they’re still available. I’ve often mentioned that his show is a great resource. If there is an issue you’re having, odds are that Nick did an episode about it. He also did a lot of great interviews with gaming luminaries (*cough* like Don and Jeff *cough*), and did many shows that focused on individual machines. Much like the This Old Pinball/Pinball Ninja archives that many of us ran into during out early days in the hobby, Nick has built a resource that should keep games running and keep bringing new gamers going with technical support.
Not only all of that *whew* but Nick also designed and invented the Multi-bingo Machine! He created a virtual/physical hybrid bingo machine that emulates dozens of rare bingo games from yesteryear, in one cabinet! Read all about it here on Pinside. It’s a modern marvel and a TON OF WORK. And if that’s not enough, he and his artistic sidekick Ryan Claytor of ElephantEater.com are working on a brand new electromechanical game! Read all about ROBO-FRENZY here.
Seriously, the dude sleeps 20 minutes a day.
(Yeah, yeah, yeah…there was a typo and I misspelled nic-H-olas on his trophy. I FEEL SHAME.)
Kudos to Nick for his tireless enthusiasm and the wave of positivity he brings to our hobby. He’s a soft-spoken gentleman and a knowledgable tutor. It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama in our hobby (for whatever reason), but it’s also easy to overlook the brilliant innovators that keep our hobby always moving forward as it’s woven itself into the ‘fabric of life’. Without guys like Nick, AND SPECIFICALLY NICHOLAS BALDRIDGE HIMSELF, we’d have a lot more games collecting dust in our garages/landfills, and a lot less folks smiling when they score that hard-earned ‘Special’ or as they watch their children roll a game over for the first time.
Thank you, Nick,
Don (and Jeff and the rest of the pinball community)