While the novelty flipper pins got faster and more colorful, the Bally one-balls got bigger and heavier. At the top of this line was Bally’s TURF KING, one of the very last of the multiple one-balls. Bally had used the name before, on a l94l game, and saw the usage as the continuation of a tradition. It was the apogee of the one-ball line, the ultimate development, and about as automatic as these games could get.
Once again, the man behind the game was Donald E. Hooker, this time adding four push buttons for Odds, Selection, Double and Feature, and a fifth button for “Play All,” setting the game up for the earned replays and advancing odds before shooting, making TURF KING the first five button, “Jumbo” style game. You almost had to be a mathematical genius to understand all of the features and winning possibilities. The Bally literature will give you an idea: “Bally announces … a new Jumbo Pinball Game. TURF KING, played with one ball or five balls – Replay operation. CITATION was great … CHAMPION was greater … but TURF KING is, by all standards, the greatest pinball game ever built. Exhaustive location-tests in all sections of the country prove that the new and revolutionary PLAYER’S CHOICE IDEA is the strongest repeat-play stimulator ever created … resulting in earnings far ahead of all previous profit-records. TURF KING includes all the famous time-tested and profit-proven play principles of CITATION and CHAMPION … now presented to the pinball public in a new and fascinating way … permitting the player to exercise his own judgement before the final skill-test of shooting the ball … offering attractions to every type of player. Famous ‘Citation’ Advancing Odds; Mystery Skill-Shot Selections; Win, Place, Show, Purse Winners; Buildup FEATURE BONUS, can be operated as 160 or 320 Bonus; Popular ‘Wild’ Field Feature, all 28 selection holes may be winners; Purse and Show may score; Win Odds; Purse and Show may score double; NEW L and R Feature, lights all seven selections for next game; NEW A, B, C, D Bumpers, when lit in rotation next winner doubled; Improved control unit with longer lasting contact wipers; New Style Clutch, with ample take-up provision; New Improved Relays, horizontal-type for easy access; faster action Reflex Unit; illuminated playfield, five lights in center of panel; convenient glass-frame lock, located on side of backbox;” and on and on.
It’s the four player’s choice buttons that attract the most interest to the game for what you push is what you get. Pushing the Horseshoe, or second button marked “Selections,” before a coin deposit or replay push, concentrates the flash in the Horseshoe, or bottom portion of the backglass. The third Cloverleaf, or “Double” button, lights up the shamrock section of the glass and sets up a double payout for a winning ball in Purse or Show. The Star, or first “Odds” button, lights up the Win, Place, Show, Purse odds section of the backglass, second from the top below the TURF KING name. As coins are dropped, these odds are advanced at an accelerated rate, with an increase in the frequency of the Purse and Show win odds. The fourth, or Pennant button marked “Feature” lights up the small flag at the upper right of the backglass. In Bally’s words, “FEATURE lights up with an accelerated frequency that is exciting and thrilling to FEATLIRE players to range from button to button, played by shrewd judgement before the final skill-test of shooting the ball or balls… is the strongest repeat-play stimulator and surest profit booster ever built into a jumbo-type pinball game.” Strong indeed. TURF KING was in continuous production for eleven solid months without letup to get the 1950’s off to a roaring start, and literally put Bally out of the novelty game business. They made a few in the 50’s but virtually left the field to Gottlieb, Williams and others while concentrating on replay games. Some of the TURF KING games were Califomicated late in their operational life to change their backglass, advancing odds numbers to letters to get around California gambling laws. In some cases even their names were changed, one version ending up with the unlikely title of FIREBALL, hardly horsey yet perversely complimentary, indicating almost a quarter century of active usage. TURF KING is Bally game Number 523. Release date was April 12, 1950.
(Source: The 100 Machines)