Skee-ball’s New Jersey roots
Today is a sad day in New Jersey history: Joseph Fourestier Simpson passed away on June 17, 1930 in Vineland, New Jersey.
You may not recognize his name, but you’ve probably played the game he created: skee-ball. According to NJTV, the game was invented in Vineland and he patented it in 1908. He had a hard time marketing it and five years later Jonathan Dickson Este bought the rights to the game and installed two alleys in a bar in Princeton and later opened one across from the Million Dollar Pier in AC (at that time, the lanes were 32 feet long, now they are usually 14 feet).
The game took off and the Skee-Ball Stadium was built in AC. The first national skee-ball tournament was held at the facility in 1932. After a lull during WWII, skee-ball regained its popularity across the country and especially at the Jersey Shore.
Today there are skee-ball leagues and tournaments all over the nation. The rights to the name are now owned by Bay Tek Entertainment of Pulaski, WI which still builds alleys; it also licenses the name.
If by some chance you are unfamiliar with the boardwalk arcade staple, each player gets several hard plastic balls which are rolled up a ramp with concentric circles around holes with increasing point totals. Typically, players win tickets which then are redeemed for prizes.
There is now a skee-ball app, which its creators say was briefly the best selling paid app in Apple’s app store https://www.skeeball.com/ before being knocked out by Angry Birds.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.