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Dan White
07-29-2007, 12:34 PM
My father came across some old papers while cleaning out his desk. Here's an obit that appeared on Mosconi. I just thought it was a nice article:

FROM: Sports Illustrated (September 27th 1993) ~
By Steve Rushin

The (under)world of pocket billiards was once peopled by stylish
legends, cartoonish men like Alvin (Titanic Thompson) Thomas. His eye was so sharp, it was said, that he could pitch a key into a lock from across a room and shoot bullets through washers flung into the sky.

When not shooting pool, Rudolph (Minnesota Fats) Wanderone engaged in eating contests. Fats, it was said, began one contest by swallowing an entire ham and telling his opponent that he wouldn't count it towardhis total. That's what they say: Fats spotted the man a ham.

Such impossible stories were told of Willie Mosconi as well, but with
Mosconi there was a difference -- the stories about Mosconi were true. He really did win the world championship of straight pool 15 times, between 1941 and '57. He really did run 526 consecutive balls in a straight-pool exhibition in Springfield, Ohio, calling the ball and pocket before every shot. "I never did miss," Mosconi said. "I justgot tired and quit."

Mosconi left this world last Thursday, suffering a heart attack at age 80 in his New Jersey home. He took with him one more remnant of that Runyonesque era around Broadway, commemorated on Broadway in the musical Guys and Dolls. Is it a surprise that the
show's composer, Frank Loesser, was Mosconi's Army bunkmate?

Mosconi learned to play pool (elegantly, he always called the game
"pocket billiards") in a South Philadelphia dance academy run by an
uncle. His father owned a poolroom from which the young Willie was banned, so he practiced by poking potatoes across the kitchen floor with the butt end of a broomstick. At the age of six, Willie was
playing exhibitions at the Friars Club in New York City, performing
for its members, including his cousins Charlie and Louie, vaude- villians in the Ziegfeld Follies who had once headlined at the
Palace. Mosconi's own most memorable Broadway performance came in1948. At the Strand Theatre his match with 13-time world champion Ralph Greenleaf was to begin at 8 p.m. Trouble was, Mosconi had tickets to Abie's Irish Rose across Times Square that night, and curtain time was 8:30. So after Greenleaf broke the rack, Mosconi rose from his chair, chalked and ran off 125 points and 10 trick shots in 17 minutes. When the curtain rose on Rose, Mosconi was in the audience, reading his playbill.

More than a decade later Mosconi served as a technical adviser on the set of The Hustler, which starred his friend Jackie Gleason as a
character named Minnesota Fats. The pool scenes were shot in the Ames Billiard Academy, near Times Square. After the film's release
Wanderone began calling himself Minnesota Fats and saying the
character was based on him. (It was not.) Alas, last week Fats,
believed to be 93, was hospitalized in Nashville, having been
discovered on a city street, disoriented once again. ("He thought he
was Nebraska Fats," said new Broadway resident David Letterman.)

Fats always called the game's great players "legendaries." Pool lost a
legendary last week. Runyon is gone. Gleason is gone. The Ames
Billiard Academy has been gone for years. And now, gone as well, is
Mosconi.

He didn't die. He just got tired and quit.

selftaut
07-29-2007, 01:26 PM
Great find! thanks for sharing Dan. Although I have a hard time believing the 125 and out PLUS 10 trick shots in 17 minutes, thats like warp speed, and considering somebody had to gather and rack the balls up 8 or 9 times in that time frame as well. But if it is true I feel sorry for the crowd that probably paid $20 apiece for a seat at the exhibition, barely got seated and it was over!

TheWizard
07-29-2007, 02:07 PM
I'm not so sure about the 17 minutes claim either, but saying that, Lou Butera ran 150 balls, in 21 minutes to win a match/tournament at one time, and also, I remember in the Special Edition DVD of "The Hustler", on the "Featurette" in the "Special Features section of the DVD, Mike Massey had mentioned about Straight Pool being a rhythm game, and he mentioned that Willie Mosconi had a really fast really fast pace at the table, when he got into a rhythm, but I'm not sure of how accurate this is, as I've yet to be able to watch an actual full length Straight Pool video of Willie Mosconi in a tournament/exhibition, and so, I'm completely unable to confirm if this is the case, either way :)

Willie

Bob Jewett
07-29-2007, 10:49 PM
... but saying that, Lou Butera ran 150 balls, in 21 minutes to win a match/tournament at one time, ...
The story goes it was against Babe Cranfield. After the match (which I think was in one of Fred Whalen's big tournaments) Cranfield remarked that he hadn't even finished his Livesaver.

I think Mosconi's fast match story is in "Willie's Game."

pdcue
07-29-2007, 10:52 PM
I'm all in favor of poetic liscense and such, and it makes a nice ending line,
but Willie's autobiography had been out for a while by then and even
he aknowledged that he missed.

No wonder this legend won't die

Dale

JohnnyP
07-30-2007, 05:57 AM
Wayne Norcross said Willie didn't like to be filmed, since it would give his opponents the opportunity to study his patterns.

acedotcom
08-01-2007, 07:10 AM
The story goes it was against Babe Cranfield. After the match (which I think was in one of Fred Whalen's big tournaments) Cranfield remarked that he hadn't even finished his Livesaver.
That's hilarious. Thanks for sharing. :)

SpiderWebComm
08-01-2007, 10:37 AM
Great find! thanks for sharing Dan. Although I have a hard time believing the 125 and out PLUS 10 trick shots in 17 minutes, thats like warp speed, and considering somebody had to gather and rack the balls up 8 or 9 times in that time frame as well. But if it is true I feel sorry for the crowd that probably paid $20 apiece for a seat at the exhibition, barely got seated and it was over!

If Mosconi came back to life and walked into my office right now (in the shape when he was in during his prime) and said "Feel free to bet it at anytime..." I think I'd more than likely *****-up while feeling my heart shrink to the size of a BB.

Even if he didn't squeak in 10 extra trick shots--- let's say he just ran 125 and out in 17 mins. That's still ungodly. If Butera can run 150 in 21, I'm not betting Mosconi wasn't in line for popcorn across the street at minute 20 after 125.

bartolus
08-01-2007, 02:14 PM
Around 1963 mosconi put on an exhibition in Boston at a pool room new North Station. He played Herbie Merrill, who was good player from the North Shore but whose right hand shook worse than Nick Varner's does. Mosconi beat him rather easily - I think Herbie ran 30 balls or so at one point, but Mosconi did not make any substantial runs himself and he sensed the audience was dissatisfied with the exhibition. He then said, and I was there, let's see if I can run 100 balls in five minutes - yes that's right five minutes. He missed at 86 and while I did not time it precisely he was pretty close to five minutes.

You didn't truly appreciate what you were seeing.

TheWizard
08-01-2007, 03:14 PM
On watching the video of "Clash Of The Titans", yep, Irving Crane and Joe Balsis, the commentator mentioned that when Willie Mosconi really got into his rhythm, he would be almost running around the table as he was running the balls, and so, with taking this, and Bartolus's account of Willie's exhibition, makes it more feesable to the possibility that Willie made the 125 run in 17 minutes :)

The 2 main achievements of Willie, that will always stand out, is winning 15x world titles, and the high run of 526 :)

In fact, it was reading about Willie Mosconi in one of my dad's set of encyclopedieas, that got me playing Straight Pool and American Pool in general :)

Willie

jerseybillG
08-02-2007, 06:04 AM
i was lucky to see willie play 3 exibitions in our local pool room in jersey city(fregaras) spelling may be wrong. these exibitions were part of his brunswick tours....and were on a 5x10 table....the room only had 6 tables 4 of them were 4.5x9 (1 5x10 billiard ) also babe cranfield, gave exibition once or twice (great player)this was in the 50`s>>>>>we sat around the table and watched in awe....great memories...

TheWizard
08-02-2007, 10:08 AM
Ahh yes, Babe Cranfield, yet another great and legendary player, have any of you got a compy of his book, "The Straight Pool Bible"? :) (Sorry if I'm going off topic)

Willie

DJKeys
08-02-2007, 12:20 PM
I saw Willie at an exhibition at Rutgers where he ran 187. After about 70 balls, he was literally running around the table for the next shot. He played as fast as Butera, but a lot more gracefully.