The pinball community is mourning the loss of a great friend and non-stop contributor to the hobby, Ronald Scott Sidley. Scott had been battling cancer in recent years and quietly, in Scott’s own fashion, passed away Sept 4th, 2020. He was 58.
Scott was known to many as the gruff, combative tech ripping open pinball machines on a moments notice at events all over the Maryland/Virginia/DC region. Who with just a tool from his belt and a few complaints about the prior work done on a game, have any game up in no time so the show could go on. But that persona was just one slice of Scott. As much as he’d tell you didn’t know what you were doing… he was also the first to be there to help you get setup, and the last to leave if there was something that needed to be done. Scott was the unsung hero helping countless owners get their games fixed up or dialed in all around the region. There wasn’t much of anything Scott couldn’t get fixed in a pin. Yet he simply refused to take money from his friends or acquaintances when helping them prep for events, run events, or simply getting their home collection running smooth again.
Scott was a friend of early members of the Free State Pinball Association, including forming member, and now game designer, Joe Schober. Scott joined the FSPA in the early years and became the Iron Man of the FSPA participating in more leagues and seasons than anyone. Scott was not content just being a player and was always contributing to the the collective good. In FSPA’s early years, Scott helped assemble and maintain the software used for FSPA’s league scoring. He functioned as a league officer, tech, and eventually operating games for league locations as well. For many players in the Virginia, Maryland, DC region, Scott was one of the first people they met at organized events as Scott was never shy about introducing people to the rules or history of a game they were admiring, the idea of pinball leagues, tournaments, or just being one of the first people to break the ice as they gawked at all these pinheads. From the mid 1990s onward, Scott was a fixture in the Mid-Atlantic Pinball scene.
But Scott was more than just pinball. His friends remember him for their time together playing video games, roller coaster trips, and more. Local players, friends, and the larger pin community shared memories of Scott, here are some excerpts:
Steve R:”I thought he hated me for the longest time until I realized he hates everyone equally….. but it’s not really hatred it’s just Scott communicating in his own way. Never compromising and never trying to be anyone other than himself. League, tournaments and competitive pinbal for me won’t be the same for a long while. Scott, I hope somewhere out there you are the new Grand Champion and fixing the machine after your turn to make it play better for everyone else”
Bowen Kerins – Spooky Pinball : “he is instrumental in building many of the things that made FSPA and other leagues possible. A wonderful man”
Doug Polka – PAPA – “Scott was one of the people who inspired me to start the PPO. RIP buddy.”
Kevin S: “The thing I will always remember about Scott was his smile. When you got him to laugh, or were talking about things he was an expert in and teaching others (like me) he was a joyous as anyone. Sure, we had our heated moments, but even those are truly memorable and that we simply laughed about later and moved on. I still laugh at the last FPO when our nerves were so frayed by the end of it. But even then, I never asked him to take on any effort, he just did it, took charge and took a load off my shoulders. He really did have my back and I’ll never forget.”
Joe K: “I remember meeting Scott for the first time in September 2008 as a wide eyed newbie who had just found out that there was competitive pinball not only in the world, but 20 minutes from my house. Scott took it upon himself to be the unofficial VBH welcome ambassador and showed me, Lee, and Jude the ropes that night and made me feel right at home. […]
At major events, Scott was always a major cheerleader when one of our players or alumni were doing well. When I made my only run in the Pinburgh A finals in 2015, Scott was there asking if he could get me anything to eat or drink to keep me focused on the task at hand.
Right now, I feel the same as when Scott wasn’t there for our last season of VBH and a lot of us didn’t know what was going on yet, and that is lost. For those of us who played with Scott, he was a constant in our league lives. From Scott informing us that we’re putting the quarters in wrong to telling us that he sucked after playing a twenty minute ball, Scott could always be counted on. Scott will be missed terribly my all of us, and league pinball for me won’t be the same without him.”
Todd Y: “He came to my house on multiple occasions to help repair games prior to events, and he was always fun to have around, offering his unfiltered opinions about just about anything. His opinions were set in stone, and he would happily tell you why he was right (or why you were wrong) about almost anything. But he was a different person around kids and pets. While over fixing games, he had dinner with my family several times, and he could not have been more gracious around my wife and two young daughters, displaying a kinder side that was not usually shown around the pinball crowd. The kids thought he was very nice and funny, and often asked when Scott was coming over again.”
Josh J: “But my favorite memory of him was a few years back when I was hosting record nights at Carpool – a couple of times, he’d bring in a stack of his old records that he said he hadn’t been able to listen to since the ’80’s. Usually they were a mix of classics from the time and I’d play nearly the whole stack of whatever he brought in. Somewhere in Rush’s Moving Pictures, I look up and he’s standing right nearby – a smile beaming on his face like I’d never seen before. Limelight comes on and he breaks out into an IN-CRED-I-BLE air guitar solo – I’d never seen him enjoying himself so much – like a big, friendly tiger lying in the sun.”
Jon F: “I will miss Scott and his unlimited knowledge, tough love and Scottitude. I saw him as a father figure and he one of my favorites to talk to at league. You will be missed Scott. Our love for you is endless. Rest In Peace my pinball brother.”
Rich W: “Many years later after JohnsPlace closed when Paul reached out to Bob and I with our first opportunity to bring back location pinball to the area at RedZone my first question was “Is Scott in?” because we can’t do it without him and of course he joined us. I later recall telling Scott that he was responsible to a great extent for the growth of locations and competative pinball in our area and thanking him. I am pretty sure he knew this as well but it was not in his dna to take credit”
Joe Schober: “For me, Scott isn’t just a guy at pinball… we’ve been friends for almost 35 years. He was incredibly intelligent, creative, and generous with his time and talents. I have so many great memories with him… creating projects, playing games, roller coaster madness, so much more. […] I love Scott dearly, and already miss him very, very much.”
Sergio J:”I’ve tried to write something worthy of what he meant to me but I’m just completely failing. I’ll miss the road trips, hanging out at shows and tournaments, the help when picking up a new game, (with him inevitably telling me that I “paid too much for it”), the all day sessions to get games ready for a party, listening to music that we grew up with and the after parties with just a few of us hanging out and playing our favorite games. Most of all, I’ll just miss my friend….. “
Thank you Scott for all the memories, for all the effort you put into lifting others and our shared interests, and for just being you…
And remember everyone, if a game screws you or eats your quarter – it’s because you’re doing it wrong. We love you Scott.