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Willie Mosconi would have turned 100 today. Do you have any stories? - 06-27-2013, 01:56 AM

Willie Mosconi was born on june 27th, 1913.

In 2013 we'll have three important dates to celebrate the legend. This one is the first. September 17th will be the 20th years since his death, and in December we'll all enjoy seeing the best players battle for the 20th Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas

We took some time to put together a story, link to some videos on the home to remember the most important name in the sport. Go to our frontpage to see it all.


Maybe some of you have met Willie and can share stories with us today. I'm sure these would get more than 526 views
  
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06-27-2013, 02:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpparmentier View Post
Willie Mosconi was born on june 27th, 1913.

In 2013 we'll have three important dates to celebrate the legend. This one is the first. September 17th will be the 20th years since his death, and in December we'll all enjoy seeing the best players battle for the 20th Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas

We took some time to put together a story, link to some videos on the home to remember the most important name in the sport. Go to our frontpage to see it all.


Maybe some of you have met Willie and can share stories with us today. I'm sure these would get more than 526 views
I saw the news article on the Main Page. I met Willie Mosconi when he was making the rounds doing his show. He came to a pool room in Rockville, MD called "Let's Play Games." That was *the* pool hangout back in the day.

He was all dressed up in his suit. I remember my father, who was similar in age to Willie Mosconi, never left the house without a suit on. I guess that mode of dress was traditional to their era. My dad never went out in public with a T-shirt on or jeans.

Willie set up a trick shot and asked if anybody wanted to shoot it from the audience. My friends pushed me in the foreground, and Willie came over to me. I was so nervous. I felt my face get red. Willie actually let me shoot the shot with his cue, which made me even more nervous. Needless to say, I made six balls in the pocket with one shot.

Of course, I got his black-and-white autographed picture. I still have it in my pool room in the basement. It was the one that most people have .

One thing I noticed in the article was his date of death as September 17th. I remember there was a discrepancy about that at one time. Some thought it was September 12th. The reason why I remember these two dates vividly with Willie is that his birthday is my mother's birthday and his date of death, when it was September 12th, was my daughter's birthday, which is kind of ironic.

After reading the article on the Main Page, I can't wait to see what the 20th anniversarty of Mosconi Cup is going to be all about. Exciting!


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06-27-2013, 02:32 AM

Good article.
I still curse myself for not having gone to see him at the Sands here in Vegas the last time he was here around 1990 or so.
  
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06-27-2013, 03:51 AM

I never got the chance to meet him--it's a shame there aren't a lot of clear video's of him while in battle,,,or laying out a large run,,,one can study from such and learn
  
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06-27-2013, 05:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpparmentier View Post
Willie Mosconi was born on june 27th, 1913.

In 2013 we'll have three important dates to celebrate the legend. This one is the first. September 17th will be the 20th years since his death, and in December we'll all enjoy seeing the best players battle for the 20th Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas

We took some time to put together a story, link to some videos on the home to remember the most important name in the sport. Go to our frontpage to see it all.

Maybe some of you have met Willie and can share stories with us today. I'm sure these would get more than 526 views


I guess this is as good an occasion as any to repost this:

Mosconi's Cue Ball

Yes, I can remember it as if it were yesterday (insert flashback music).

I think I got interested in pool right around 1968 or '69. A friend and I went to a bowling alley with his dad and mom one weekend and while they bowled, we discovered the pool room that was part of the bowling alley. My family lived in San Francisco, down by the Cow Palace, and bowling alleys with pool rooms in them were a pretty common setup back then, around there. In fact, just a short walk away from our house was Castle Lanes, where, very early on in life, I learned courtesy of a summer bowling league, that I had absolutely no talent for that game.

But occasionally I'd wander into the pool room there. It had perhaps nine or so old Brunswicks and I'd watch all these old guys bat the balls around. They seemed to favor some odd game where it only mattered if you made a ball in one particular pocket, or perhaps the other. I wouldn't decipher what they doing until much later on in life... Not long after my buddy and I became proud owners of our very own personal pool cues, I learned that Willie Mosconi would be making his annual appearance at Castle Lanes. This was huge. I had watched "The Hustler" several times by now and knew the lore.

So the day of the exhibition, I get out of school early and zoom down to Castle Lanes to get a front row seat. They had recovered the front table and all the old guys already had their favored perches secured. Nonetheless, I squeezed in. Then "he" walked into the pool room. Mosconi was always nattily dressed in sports coat and tie. He'd come into the room with a box of balls and a luggage-style cue case. His hair was pure white and he always had this very elegant, tailored look about him. To warm up, he'd rack all fifteen balls, separate the head ball and set up a break shot off to the left of the rack. The break shots he seemed to favor were always a little steeper than I would have thought comfortable, but they certainly didn't slow him up.

He'd run off two racks and then be done, ready to play his opponent, 150 points of 14.1. Depending on whom he was playing, he'd often kick into the back of the stack and play the head ball two rails into the side, just to give his opponent the chance at a running start. He'd always run at least a 100 and I saw him go 150 and out twice. If he had missed somewhere along the way and got out running a 50, or something like that, he'd turn to the crowd and ask, "Would you like to see a 100 ball run?" And we'd all go, "Well, yes." And he'd keep shooting and always get the 100. Then he'd shoot some trick shots, including some pretty nifty masses, and then hang around and talk and sign autographs. (It's the only autograph I have ever asked for in my life.)

Perhaps the last time I saw him was towards the late 70s, like maybe 1976, at an appearance in downtown San Francisco at a walk-up bowling alley named, appropriately enough, Downtown Bowl. He did the usual exhibition that I had seen several times before and it was still fascinating. Particularly, as I've mentioned before, because of the way his cue ball behaved. It was extraordinary how it would muscle into the balls and keep diving into them again and again until it had plowed through them all and come out the other side of the cluster or stack, totally unscathed.

So after his exhibition he's standing around, leaning against the table and talking to all the old timers and they're asking all the usual, "Did you ever play...?" "What'd you think of so and so's game?" and I'm trying to get closer to listen in on all this and I'm right by the side pocket of the table he's just finished his exhibition on and I look down and there it is.

Right there, at the bottom of the side pocket, is Mosconi's Cue Ball.

The blue circle on it is staring right back up at me and somehow, it was challenging me. Everyone is focused on Mosconi. No one is looking at me. I stare back into the abyss and realize I have but one moment to make a critical, and yes, criminal, decision. I look down into the pocket and I swear, Mosconi's Cue Ball is virtually howling with laughter at me. I quickly seize the little sucker, muffling it as best I can, stuff it into the pocket of my coat, and dash down the stairs of the establishment scared to death that if Mosconi discovers His Cue Ball is missing, they'll lock down the whole bowling alley -- and perhaps even cordon off the entire downtown district -- until they find the missing orb.

Now, some 30 years later, I still feel bad about the larceny I committed in my callow youth. But it's done and I can't undo it and so Mosconi's Cue Ball now sits, somewhat more meekly and quietly, on my bookshelf of pool books. But I think it still knows it's Mosconi's Cue Ball and now, just every once in a while when I'm sitting at the computer writing about the trials and tribulations of my pool game, I occasionally hear a tiny little giggle coming from behind my back, from somewhere on my book case.

Lou Figueroa
  
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About 1976 or so.....
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About 1976 or so..... - 06-27-2013, 05:39 AM

Willie did an exhibition in Fox Lake, Illinois at a pool supply store. I was always glued to the TV on Saturday whenever Willie and Minnesota Fats would play. My dad knew Willie was my hero, so he took me to see him.

After the exhibition we hung out while the crowd cleared out. My dad took me over to meet Mr. Mosconi and asked him if he could give me any tips. I was only about 8 or 9 at the time.

Willie gave me tips 5 minutes on bridge, stance, and stroke. He then told me to stay away from the pool table for my best practice. He took his glass Pepsi bottle that was empty and turned it on its side, got down and started stroking his cue into the bottle. Just kept stroking while looking at me and talking, and not touching any glass.

He said "Kid, find a table in your house shorter than a pool table and do this 15 minutes every day. You can still play a little pool, but do this every day and you'll be a great player when you're tall enough to shoot this way at the table."

He was my hero, so I probably did it 30 minutes to an hour a day. And it did make me a great player back in the day.

I gave up pool for 15 years or so doing life stuff (marriage, kids, etc). But when I got back into it, I got an empty water bottle and went back to this drill. Then proceeded to get MVP of my league for the first 9 seasons after coming back!


The pool Gods. Sometimes they're with you, sometimes they're against you. Deal with it.
  
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06-27-2013, 05:51 AM

For Lou Figueroa

It's hard to commit a crime that is truly original. In 1965 I saw Mosconi play an exhibition match. After the match the proprietor came up to Mosconi and apologized that someone seemed to have stolen the cue ball. Mosconi just said, "That's all right. I happens all the time."

He must have had a box of those blue circles in the trunk of his car.
  
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06-27-2013, 06:20 AM

In 1964 when I was 17,I use to hang at a place in Inglewood ,Calif called the Billiard Tree on Imperial and Crenshaw,just around the corner was Tropicana lanes Bowling alley where all the greats of the times played at in the pool room there,but back to course,the Billiard Tree was having a grand opening and I knew the owner and Brunswick had set Mosconi for an exhibition there for the grand opening and I got to play against him.The Game straight pool(of course)! We lagged and then he broke the balls and I ran 47,when I missed and he got to the table,he went to 125 to win.He always looked serious and scared the hell out of me,but when it was over he shook my hand and smiled and said,GOOD GAME SON!!!!!!!I never forgot that day.
Hitman
  
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06-27-2013, 07:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfigueroa View Post
I guess this is as good an occasion as any to repost this:

Mosconi's Cue Ball

Yes, I can remember it as if it were yesterday (insert flashback music).

I think I got interested in pool right around 1968 or '69. A friend and I went to a bowling alley with his dad and mom one weekend and while they bowled, we discovered the pool room that was part of the bowling alley. My family lived in San Francisco, down by the Cow Palace, and bowling alleys with pool rooms in them were a pretty common setup back then, around there. In fact, just a short walk away from our house was Castle Lanes, where, very early on in life, I learned courtesy of a summer bowling league, that I had absolutely no talent for that game.

But occasionally I'd wander into the pool room there. It had perhaps nine or so old Brunswicks and I'd watch all these old guys bat the balls around. They seemed to favor some odd game where it only mattered if you made a ball in one particular pocket, or perhaps the other. I wouldn't decipher what they doing until much later on in life... Not long after my buddy and I became proud owners of our very own personal pool cues, I learned that Willie Mosconi would be making his annual appearance at Castle Lanes. This was huge. I had watched "The Hustler" several times by now and knew the lore.

So the day of the exhibition, I get out of school early and zoom down to Castle Lanes to get a front row seat. They had recovered the front table and all the old guys already had their favored perches secured. Nonetheless, I squeezed in. Then "he" walked into the pool room. Mosconi was always nattily dressed in sports coat and tie. He'd come into the room with a box of balls and a luggage-style cue case. His hair was pure white and he always had this very elegant, tailored look about him. To warm up, he'd rack all fifteen balls, separate the head ball and set up a break shot off to the left of the rack. The break shots he seemed to favor were always a little steeper than I would have thought comfortable, but they certainly didn't slow him up.

He'd run off two racks and then be done, ready to play his opponent, 150 points of 14.1. Depending on whom he was playing, he'd often kick into the back of the stack and play the head ball two rails into the side, just to give his opponent the chance at a running start. He'd always run at least a 100 and I saw him go 150 and out twice. If he had missed somewhere along the way and got out running a 50, or something like that, he'd turn to the crowd and ask, "Would you like to see a 100 ball run?" And we'd all go, "Well, yes." And he'd keep shooting and always get the 100. Then he'd shoot some trick shots, including some pretty nifty masses, and then hang around and talk and sign autographs. (It's the only autograph I have ever asked for in my life.)

Perhaps the last time I saw him was towards the late 70s, like maybe 1976, at an appearance in downtown San Francisco at a walk-up bowling alley named, appropriately enough, Downtown Bowl. He did the usual exhibition that I had seen several times before and it was still fascinating. Particularly, as I've mentioned before, because of the way his cue ball behaved. It was extraordinary how it would muscle into the balls and keep diving into them again and again until it had plowed through them all and come out the other side of the cluster or stack, totally unscathed.

So after his exhibition he's standing around, leaning against the table and talking to all the old timers and they're asking all the usual, "Did you ever play...?" "What'd you think of so and so's game?" and I'm trying to get closer to listen in on all this and I'm right by the side pocket of the table he's just finished his exhibition on and I look down and there it is.

Right there, at the bottom of the side pocket, is Mosconi's Cue Ball.

The blue circle on it is staring right back up at me and somehow, it was challenging me. Everyone is focused on Mosconi. No one is looking at me. I stare back into the abyss and realize I have but one moment to make a critical, and yes, criminal, decision. I look down into the pocket and I swear, Mosconi's Cue Ball is virtually howling with laughter at me. I quickly seize the little sucker, muffling it as best I can, stuff it into the pocket of my coat, and dash down the stairs of the establishment scared to death that if Mosconi discovers His Cue Ball is missing, they'll lock down the whole bowling alley -- and perhaps even cordon off the entire downtown district -- until they find the missing orb.

Now, some 30 years later, I still feel bad about the larceny I committed in my callow youth. But it's done and I can't undo it and so Mosconi's Cue Ball now sits, somewhat more meekly and quietly, on my bookshelf of pool books. But I think it still knows it's Mosconi's Cue Ball and now, just every once in a while when I'm sitting at the computer writing about the trials and tribulations of my pool game, I occasionally hear a tiny little giggle coming from behind my back, from somewhere on my book case.

Lou Figueroa
Good read.


.
  
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06-27-2013, 07:04 AM

To Lou Figueroa--

Yes, the angles of Mosconi's breakshots were usually VERY uncomfortable.
  
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06-27-2013, 07:05 AM

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Originally Posted by hitman22 View Post
In 1964 when I was 17,I use to hang at a place in Inglewood ,Calif called the Billiard Tree on Imperial and Crenshaw,just around the corner was Tropicana lanes Bowling alley where all the greats of the times played at in the pool room there,but back to course,the Billiard Tree was having a grand opening and I knew the owner and Brunswick had set Mosconi for an exhibition there for the grand opening and I got to play against him.The Game straight pool(of course)! We lagged and then he broke the balls and I ran 47,when I missed and he got to the table,he went to 125 to win.He always looked serious and scared the hell out of me,but when it was over he shook my hand and smiled and said,GOOD GAME SON!!!!!!!I never forgot that day.
Hitman
He always did have that serious look. You're right.

What an opportunity that was for you to play against one of the great ones in pool!


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06-27-2013, 07:19 AM

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Originally Posted by JAM View Post
He always did have that serious look. You're right.

What an opportunity that was for you to play against one of the great ones in pool!
Yes it was a great opportunity and it stuck with me Dear.The following year I got the chance there in the same room to play Vern Peterson in an exhibition and he tore me apart also,but after that,the confidence I gained stayed with me still to this day.
Hitman
  
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06-27-2013, 08:10 AM

I first met Mosconi in 1964 at Mr. & Mrs. Cueball in Greensboro, NC. This was in Lawndale shopping center and the building is now an Italian restaurant and pizza place. This was one of the Brunswick "family" rooms and all of the Gold Crowns were covered with different colored cloths. There was also one snooker table and a carom table, but they were removed within a couple of years. The place was owned my Mr. and Mrs. (Speed and Helen) Gurfein and they were always kind and pleasant to their clientele. The room closed when one of them fell gravely ill if I recall correctly.

Willie came in to do the "Official Grand Opening" several months after the room had actually opened. There was a crowd of maybe thirty people standing around watching him. Willie was sharply dressed and gave a running commentary as he would break racks and run the tables. When he began talking about position play he started laying his cue tip on the table where he wanted the cue ball to go. Time after time whitey would come to rest on the place where Willie had pointed his tip. He was relaxed and having a good time and his stroke was simple and pure.

Lots of his competitors had negative things to say about Mosconi. That he was self-centered, selfish, and critical of others to a fault. But the thing that always impressed me about the man was that he was constantly aware that he represented the game to the public. He always dressed well, was polite to fans, and was quick to smile. He also knew when to play the foil to Minnesota Fats humor. His match with Fats where he played with napkins in his ears to avoid hearing the Fat Man showed that he could step out of character when the situation required.

I am often asked if Mosconi could 'hang' with the players of today and I find it a question that cannot be answered accurately. It is just something you guess on. Mosconi played on entirely different equipment. Hairy, slow cloth that required a 21 ounce cuestick. And he focused on 14.1, not the rotation games of today. But, and this is only an opinion, Mosconi was a child prodigy in his day and most likely would have been today had he been born into today's scene. Had he grown up on today's equipment he would have been (my opinion) a Master of the game.

Would he have been as dominant today as he was then? Impossible to answer. Players at the top these days do not seem to stay there for as long as players did in the first half of the last century. But, like Reyes, Archer, SVB and a few others today, he would have certainly been one of those who can quiet a room with a glance. Like them, his presence commanded respect.

Mosconi was never afraid of voicing his opinions. During a tournament in Chicago in the 60's he was asked if he would be going down to the Johnston City Jamboree. I do not have the exact quote but he answered that he would not honor 'those hustlers" with his presence. He felt that whole scene was bad for the game and he always felt compelled to present billiards as a classy activity. Fats often responded that Willie was trying to put whipped cream on a hot dog.
  
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06-27-2013, 08:30 AM

Happy Hundredth Willie.... You truly are a legend that we will always talk about. RIP


"You just saw me run 62 balls, and you want to keep playing?" "Yeah, I didn't like the way you played it." ~Waterdog playing Straights


Hit a gear at one of those tournaments and have everyone saying, "Who the #$%& is that guy?", then start dogging it and have everyone be like, "Oh, never mind." ~Victorl
  
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Willie Mosconi: Sometimes your idols disappoint
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Willie Mosconi: Sometimes your idols disappoint - 06-27-2013, 08:34 AM

As told by : BCA Instructor Roy Pastor sends in this picture (at right) of himself, circa 1969, standing next to his then-idol, Willie Mosconi. I say "next to" and not "with" because the boy had to resort to subterfuge to have the picture taken with the great champion. Mosconi was a great player, but he could also be a tough and difficult man -- as Pastor's somewhat sad story about this photograph attests.


Here's Roy's letter:

"When I was 12 years old, back in 1969, my father took me to see an exhibition match between my idol Willie Mosconi and the house pro at Golden Q billiards in Queens New York. I was very excited as I watched Mosconi run 60 + balls to win the match.

We did not realize that Mosconi was selling copies of his book. When my dad asked him if he could take a picture of Mosconi with me, Mosconi replied that he would on the condition that my dad would purchase one of his books. Unfortunately, my father did not have enough money to buy a book. As a result, Mosconi refused to shake my hand or pose for a photograph with me. My disappointment must have been obvious because “Cue Ball” Kelly and “Kid” Laurie came right over, introduced themselves, posed for photos and were very kind. I think that it was Kelly who told me to go over and stand next to Mosconi while he was giving an interview. That way, even though he would not look at the camera, I had a picture with him.

I have kept the photos from that day as a reminder of my interactions with these legends of the sport. I always wondered how Mosconi could have so easily disappointed a 12-year-old star struck fan."
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