Skee-Ball Started in New Jersey
I saw that there was a skee-ball tournament coming to Wildwood this month and I got curious if there were other skee-ball tournaments. My research opened up a can of worms. not only are there other tournaments, but the game was invented in New Jersey and the first national tournament was held in Atlantic City in 1932.
According to NJTV, the game was invented in Vineland by a man named Joseph Fourestier Simpson 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.
There are still plenty of skee-ball machines along the Jersey shore, including at one of my favorite places, the Silver Ball Museum and Arcade.