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lfigueroa
10-22-2010, 06:16 PM
There's a thread about mentors going on now and that, along with a question a bit back from The Baby, got me thinking about a guy I hadn't thought of in some time. I'm thinking many of you out there, of a certain age, had someone like this in your pool room.

(insert flashback music)


I am not so sure I ever had a mentor. Not in the purest sense, anyway.

Probably the closest I came, in the classical sense, was whatever knowledge and inspiration I could glean from the collected works of Willie Mosconi (Red and Blue books, of course); Mr. Clive Cottingham, Jr’s, “The Game of Billiards;” Luther Lassiter’s, “Billiards for Everyone;” Jimmy Caras’ “Pocket Billiard Fundamentals and Trick Shots Made Easy;" ”Steve Mizerak’s’, “Inside Pocket Billiards;” Irving Crane’s, “Pocket Billiards;" and just for good measure and to make sure I covered the waterfront, the last book out there at the time, Willie Hoppe’s, “Billiards, as it should be played” (almost incomprehensible to me at the time, given my extraordinarily limited experience with pool, much less 3C). But there I went, a studied and inspired student of the game.

Perhaps, just maybe, the one guy that stood out from the crowd and offered me some amount of direction and guidance was one Rico Sanchez, of Town & Country Billiards, Daly City, California. Rico *was* a different bird: part houseman, part hustler, part card player, part ladies man, and part seamstress.

Yes. That last part is right.

Rico sewed many of his own outfits, which, given that it was the late sixties/early seventies, included an interesting assortment of flamboyant hats (the word “pimp” comes to mind, though Rico would have never taken advantage of a woman in that way); polyester shirts open to the navel; wide belts; boots; and, oh yes: bell bottoms -- glorious bell bottoms, with little colored inserts, if he needed to make them a tad more bell-like. These were pants Elvis hisself would have envied and lusted after. That, along with his lean Puerto Rican built, receding dark-haired pate, mustache and full blown chops down both sides of his face, gave him a larger than life appearance that I can still see clearly today.

For many of us of a certain just past pubescent age searching for our identities and place in the pool firmament, Rico was our clan’s godfather and amused guide through the maze of rituals and traditions of manhood, gambling, and pool. On more than one occasion Rico would show me something, or say something, that guided or encouraged me just a little bit further on down the path. “As good as you play, you should play anyone that walks in that door.” Or, during another more quiet moment, “Here. Every pool player should know how to change his own tip.” And then Rico proceeded to show me how to do it with nothing more than a utility knife, a dab of Tweeten’s Glue, and a bit of sandpaper.

Often times he would just laugh at the innocent and/or flatly stupid things I, or Jerry, or one of the other miscasts would say or pull mid-game of 9ball, Tonk, Liar’s Poker, or Tahoe run at the blackjack tables. Rico taught us -- the junior league of Daly City pool players -- what it meant to have heart, to be fearless, and perhaps most importantly, to do the right thing regardless of the cost. I’ll never forget the early morning visit into the pool hall one night by a group from a cross town room. One of the foreigners said something "inappropriate" to Rico and he, literally, jumped over the counter to confront the offender of our home turf and honor. Before any of us had any conscious thought about what we were doing or the potential consequences, we all, to a man, took up pool cues and balls, completely committed to wrecking whatever mayhem needed to be administered to the intruders. Rico had taught us the code.

I saw Rico in action many times. He was always fearless, a competitor with the heart of a lion, and when necessary willing to take “the worst of it.” I still, 40 years later, have a warm spot in my heart for Rico, wherever he may be now.

Lou Figueroa

GetMeThere
10-22-2010, 06:28 PM
That well describes the primal pull of pool for young men. It's the way we're made to work: men from the community hang out together, and the young men learn from the older men all they need to know. That's a common motif in small, primitive societies even today. Hanging out at the poolroom and shooting pool is equivalent to hanging out at the hunting grounds and spearing antelope.

Those days are waning though. The feeling of community is waning, and respect for older men has practically vanished--as part of the current American worship of air-brushed youth and beauty.

lfigueroa
10-25-2010, 06:53 AM
That well describes the primal pull of pool for young men. It's the way we're made to work: men from the community hang out together, and the young men learn from the older men all they need to know. That's a common motif in small, primitive societies even today. Hanging out at the poolroom and shooting pool is equivalent to hanging out at the hunting grounds and spearing antelope.

Those days are waning though. The feeling of community is waning, and respect for older men has practically vanished--as part of the current American worship of air-brushed youth and beauty.


I know, I know. You just can't pick up some of this stuff via text or twitter :-)

Lou Figueroa

searcyD
10-25-2010, 07:02 AM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^