It was a great four days in Austin, Texas at the end of October for The BEEB! For the uninitiated, “BEEB” is short for the Brewskee-Ball National Championship Skee-Ball Tournament.
Kicking it off on Thursday, October 26, Thaddeus Cooper hosted a Facebook Live Event which was a great success, featuring Joey The Cat (three-time national champion), and Eric Schadrie from Bay Tek Games, which took over Skee-Ball manufacturing and sales last year. Not only did listeners get insight into the upcoming tournament, but also a sneak peek into the features on Bay Tek’s brand new alleys! Following the Facebook Live event was a Seeking Redemption’s author Meet-and-Greet at the beautiful rooftop bar of The Westin Downtown, complete with a swimming pool and a panoramic view of downtown Austin. This was also a chance to observe the October 31st birthday of Joseph Fourestier Simpson, the inventor of Skee-Ball. The event included a special cake to celebrate Simpson’s 165th birthday, and a memorable toast to him and his beloved invention.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were busy days. Thaddeus was selling books at The BEEB as well as attending events and the competitions. Seeking Redemption was a great hit with all of those in attendance and Thaddeus read an excerpt from the book, the memorable story of the very first Skee-Ball National Championship games in 1932, at the closing Storytime on Sunday evening.
This year was a year for firsts, including the introduction of a brand new Skee-Ball alley, custom-designed by Bay Tek Games for the National Skee-Ball League. These alleys are outfitted with two cameras, to capture exciting real time video of the roller, the play field, and the score, enabling players at opposite ends of the country to “play together” in real time. The alleys are also fitted with a large video screen above the target, which showed the classic marquee displaying the score during game play, and a variety of images between games. With the installation of the new bank of alleys at the Full Circle Bar in Austin, someone had to roll the first ball. Eric Pavony, Skee-E-O of the Brewskee-Ball League, told us he debated long and hard on who that should be. Finally he decided that since Thaddeus Cooper had chronicled the first 108 years of the game, it was fitting he should roll the first ball, launching the next 100 years of Skee-Ball. Thaddeus was stunned by the honor, and happily rolled out the first ball, to cheers from the crowd that had gathered for the event on Thursday afternoon.
Saturday started with the MUG team competition, including teams from Austin, Texas; Brooklyn, New York; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; and Wilmington, North Carolina, sporting their team T-Shirts. Team Skeesar Chavez of Austin won Saturday’s very intense competition. For the rest of the competition, many enthusiastic rollers showed up in costume, since the games were so close to Halloween this year, or simply wearing their usual, colorful Skee-Ball performance attire.
Sunday was dedicated to individual roller competition. The big news that evening was two roll-offs of note. The first was between Sarah O and Joey The Cat. Sarah was on fire that night, scoring a victory over Joey, with a score of 358 to 346. The final roll-off was between Skeevi Strauss and Sarah O, with Skeevi finally winning first place, and the coveted Cream Jacket for this year’s tournament.
This year’s BEEB was a rockin’ good time! And it was a great time to re-connect with old friends and make some new ones, to see Skee-Ball history in the making, and to get a first look at the exciting future of national Skee-Ball tournaments.
About the author:
Thaddeus Cooper is the co-author of Seeking Redemption: The Real Story of the Beautiful Game of Skee-Ball, a deep dive into the history of the game. You can find more information about Thaddeus, and his co-author, and their book, at: http://www.nomoreboxes.com/.