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She Broke The Gender Barrier In Billiards
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She Broke The Gender Barrier In Billiards - 05-20-2019, 11:08 AM

Japanese sharpshooter Masako Katsura was a trailblazer of the pool halls in the 1950s.

SHE BROKE THE GENDER BARRIER … IN BILLIARDS - Ozy.com

Be sure to watch the short video of her doing 3C trick shots. https://youtu.be/19LCM_q8EyI

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05-20-2019, 11:37 AM

Wow, great stuff. Who knew?

The mention of Welker Cochran, owner of the room in the article and also a legend of three cushion, always reminds me of a story.

Cochran suggested that for serious three cushion players, the diamonds along the table made the game too easy, and petitioned for the exclusive use of tables without diamonds along the rails in major three cushion competition. His request, of course, was not granted.

Too easy, LOL!
  
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05-20-2019, 11:50 AM

...........................................


--------------------------------------------------------------
Playing cues: Big-Pin Ivory Scruggs
Judd Wrapless (Still the All Time Fav).
Cue Case: Whitten 2x4
Tip: Searing (Hard)
Fav shaft: Gulyassy SPTX(whip it good)

Last edited by Tooler; 05-21-2019 at 09:29 AM.
  
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05-20-2019, 12:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjm View Post
Wow, great stuff. Who knew?

The mention of Welker Cochran, owner of the room in the article and also a legend of three cushion, always reminds me of a story.

Cochran suggested that for serious three cushion players, the diamonds along the table made the game too easy, and petitioned for the exclusive use of tables without diamonds along the rails in major three cushion competition. His request, of course, was not granted.

Too easy, LOL!
few yrs ago when i thought i was going to be able to have my own custom table built, i was going to have no diamonds, i dont use them
i dont use them in pool or carom


3 cushion has killed carom
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Great read!
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Great read! - 05-20-2019, 01:10 PM

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Originally Posted by Patrick Johnson View Post
Japanese sharpshooter Masako Katsura was a trailblazer of the pool halls in the 1950s.

SHE BROKE THE GENDER BARRIER … IN BILLIARDS - Ozy.com

Be sure to watch the short video of her doing 3C trick shots. https://youtu.be/19LCM_q8EyI

pj
chgo
Great stuff, Thanks!
  
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Let's Not Overlook Jean Balukas
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Let's Not Overlook Jean Balukas - 05-20-2019, 02:43 PM

Jean Balukas (born June 28, 1959) is an American pool player from Brooklyn, New York. Described as a "trailblazer, a child prodigy, a loner who rebelled against dress codes for women—the pool equivalent of Billie Jean King", she is a five-time Billiards Congress of America (BCA) Player of the Year, was the youngest inductee into the BCA Hall of Fame and the second woman given the honor, and was ranked fifteenth on Billiard Digest's Fifty Greatest Players of the [20th] Century.

Jean Balukas was considered a prodigy, coming to the public's attention first at 6 years of age at a pool exhibition held at New York City's Grand Central Terminal and thereafter appearing on television, including on CBS's primetime television show, I've Got a Secret. At just 9 years old she placed 5th in the 1969 U.S. Open straight pool championship, and placed 4th and 3rd respectively in the following two U.S. Opens. From that early start, Balukas completely dominated women's professional pool during the 1970s and 1980s.

Balukas won the U.S. Open seven years in a row from 1972 through 1978, accumulating six world championship titles, had well over 100 professional competition first-place finishes with 38 majors to her name, had a streak of 16 first-place finishes in women's professional tournaments, and was the only woman to compete on equal footing with men in professional play in her era.




Wielding an ivory-detailed cue made especially for her in 1965 by renowned cuemaker George Balabushka, at 5 and 6 years of age she would practice straight pool to 50 points after family dinners with her father's encouragement but not participation. Many have assumed that she had been tutored in the game. However, Balukas states, "when they find out that my father doesn't play, many people think I must have learned the game from Frank McGown. That isn't true. I taught myself to play pool."


Balukas appeared in an exhibition match at the bygone Carom Club, then located at 1697 Broadway in Manhattan. A second-grader at the time, according to her mother, Peggy, she did her homework and took a nap before appearing at the scheduled match. In advertisements for the match, Balukas was billed as "the Little Princess of Pocket Billiards." She was described by a reporter present as "a little girl with honey-blond hair...wearing a short yellow dress and green leotards...who resembles a young Shirley Temple." To great applause she edged out her opponent, Roland DeMarco, a pool enthusiast and the President of Finch College. The final score was 50 to 42.

In 1969, at 9 years of age, Balukas competed in her first Billiard Congress of America U.S. Open straight pool championship, taking 5th place among a field of adults. In the next two U.S. Opens, in 1970 and 1971, she placed 4th and 3rd, respectively.

U.S. Open Straight Pool Champion

On August 18, 1972 at 13 years of age Balukas won the women's division of the U.S. Open Straight Pool Championship, along the way defeating five-time champion Dorothy Wise and taking home a prize of $1,500. Balukas was the U.S Open's youngest winner ever and by a large margin. She roundly defeated her opponent in the finals, Madelyn Whitlow of Detroit, Michigan, with a score of 75–32 in 44 innings. Reporting on the competition, The New York Times stated: "Miss Balukas showed signs of strong title contention throughout the tournament play as she defeated six opponents with precision shooting and near flawless strategy."

In 1973, at 14, Balukas successfully defended her straight pool U.S. Open title, defeating runner-up Donna Ries with a final score of 75–72 in 42 innings and a high run of 26, earning her a $2,000 purse. Earlier in the tournament she trounced Mieko Harada, a housewife from Kyoto, Japan, 75-1 in 20 innings. Balukas defended her title, again beating out Harada. This was Balukas' third straight U.S. Open title at the age of 15.

In 1975 Balukas defeated Ries again in the U.S. Open semi-finals with a score of 75–15 in 15 innings, dispatched Ames, Iowa native Gail Breedlove 75-19, and then again faced and defeated Harada in the final wi sh a score of 100–63 in 39 innings. In 1976, then 17, Balukas took her fifth consecutive U.S. Open title, beating Gloria Walker of Cheyney, Pennsylvania 75–46 in 39 innings. Balukas went on to win the next two U.S. Open straight pool championships for a total of seven back-to-back wins, her streak foreclosed after 1978 by the discontinuance of the competition itself.
Balukas has won numerous other titles including a string of six wins at the World Open Pocket Billiard Championships.


Playing with men


As early as the late 1960s, Balukas was performing exhibition matches with some of the top male players of the era, including Willie Mosconi and Irving Crane, who were together considered between 1941 and 1956 the "best in the world, flat out". In 1975, she again played the legendary Willie Mosconi on CBS' "Challenge of the Sexes" in both eight-ball and nine-ball competition. At 62 Mosconi was well past his prime, but a handicap was nevertheless given to the eagle-eyed youngster, allowing her all the breaks and the first shot regardless of whether she had made a ball or not on the break. Mosconi lost at both disciplines.[She later would play televised "Battle of the Sexes" matches with Rudolph Wanderone a/k/a Minnesota Fats in 1977, Ray Martin in 1979 and with Steve Mizerak in 1986.

On August 6, 1978 Balukas became the first woman to qualify to play in the men's division of the World Open Pocket Billiards Championship; a tournament with a 100-year history. This meant that she would be competing in both the women's and men's divisions of the tournament to be held on August 12 of that year at the Biltmore Hotel located at 43rd Street and Madison Avenue in New York City.

Balukas was initially entered in both the men's and women's divisions of the 1987 B.C. Classic, a nine-ball competition. After notable controversy (detailed below), she competed only on the men's side. Along the way she trounced Keith McCready 11–3 (at the time the 17th-ranked male player by money list, and who guest-starred as obnoxious hustler "Grady Seasons" in the 1986 film The Color of Money). Balukas finished in a tie for 9th place among many of the best players in the world.


Dress code controversy


In August 1987, at the annual B.C. Open hosted at a Holiday Inn in Binghamton, New York, Balukas was slated for competition in both divisions. After arriving, she discovered that for evening-scheduled matches she would be required to wear formal attire that she did not have with her. The men's division, by contrast, had no similar dress code. Balukas took a stand that the women should not be treated differently from the men, and accordingly refused to procure garments that would meet the unequal mandate.

The women held a vote as to whether Balukas should be allowed to play. She later explained that "what hurt at Binghamton was that while I was trying to stand up for us being treated the same as men, the other girls held the tournament draw without me. By one vote, they kept me out. And some of the girls who are my best friends voted against me." She did not agree at the time with the speculation of others that her professional rivals had their own self-interest at heart, knowing that with her out of the competition they would have a much better chance at the $5,000 first place prize award. Despite the women's snub and perceived chauvinistic terms, she nevertheless competed on the men's side, tying for ninth place. Not long afterward, she indicated to a reporter that she was "thinking of dropping out of women's competition altogether."

Soon after the dress code dust-up made headlines, a letter was sent to The New York Times by the Women's Professional Billiard Association (WPBA), by its president Belinda Bearden, disputing the facts as reported. According to the WPBA, the dress code was self-imposed by the players in an attempt to improve the image of women's pool and to attract more spectators and press to the sport, and that Balukas was the only participant at Binghamton unwilling to comply. They further explained that Balukas first withdrew from the women's division but later returned and asked to play after player assignments had been completed. A vote to allow her to play resulted in a tally of 8–7 in her favor, but after they moved to consult a player who was not present for the vote, Balukas again withdrew from the competition, and that was where the matter had ended.

Break with the sport

In 1988, Balukas was playing against professional Robin Bell in a televised match of the Brunswick-sponsored World Open Nine-ball Championship held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bell, who was Balukas' best friend on the women's tour, had never beaten Balukas but had been playing very strongly in the tournament. With the score 2 games to 3 in favor of Bell in a race to nine games, Bell made the 9 ball on the snap two games in a row, making the score 5 to 2 in very short order.

All television match players wore small microphones so that their words and the sounds of play could be heard by the audience. After Bell's second 9 ball break, Balukas reportedly muttered within the range of the microphone words to the effect that Bell was having a string of inordinately lucky shots. She was cautioned by the referee and play continued, with Balukas the ultimate victor with a final score of 9–5. According to an interview with Balukas appearing in New York Woman magazine in 1991, Balukas's exact words were "Some world championship... beat me with skill, not luck." Despite their off-the-table friendship, following the match Bell made a formal complaint to the WPBA about the incident. The WPBA's board of directors thereafter sanctioned Balukas $200 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Balukas was greatly incensed over the sanction and refused to pay on principle, turning away offers by others to pay the fine in her stead.Balukas explains that "It wasn’t the $200... [Women] pool players, who were ranked three and six and five, were the ones who decided I should be fined. I felt it should have been done by an outside panel, not by my competitors. The sides were at an impasse. Balukas refused to relent and the WPBA refused to lift the sanction and would not allow Balukas to play again until she paid the fine. "Just because she was our premier player doesn't mean she was above the rules,"said Vicki Paski in 1992, then president of the WPBA. Professional Loree Jon Jones in the same interview expressed mixed sentiments: "Her not playing is, I guess, sad," but she reflected that in Balukas's absence, "we've all learned how to win."

Balukas had also felt some heat from her solo venture into the men's arena. She had heard taunts from the men upon finding out she was going to play in their division, such as "I’m gonna put on a dress and go play with the women." In early 1988, Balukas gave in to complaints from the men upon her entry to a Chicago-based tournament that it wasn't fair she should have the opportunity to play in both divisions when the men only had the opportunity to play in one, and withdrew from the men's side. Balukas states that after she arrived in Chicago "I found out that the first- and second-place winners in the women’s event were going to be invited to play in the men’s event. I was stabbed in the back."

There were other factors at play. Balukas admits to having been under great pressure, much of it self-imposed. After she reached the pinnacle of her profession, "That’s when I started getting nervous... that’s when I started putting a lot of pressure on myself." "Playing against the men, I learned to lose,... but [losing] hurt with the women because I was expected to win all the time." Ultimately Balukas states that her break with the sport "...was a buildup of everything,... A little burnout, a little frustration. It just got to a point where I had so much animosity toward the pool world. And that was my out. You know, you're going to fine me? Well, see you later. That was my excuse to finally say I need a break."


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05-20-2019, 03:34 PM

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Originally Posted by Bavafongoul View Post
Jean Balukas (born June 28, 1959) is an American pool player from Brooklyn, New York. Described as a "trailblazer, a child prodigy, a loner who rebelled against dress codes for women—the pool equivalent of Billie Jean King", she is a five-time Billiards Congress of America (BCA) Player of the Year, was the youngest inductee into the BCA Hall of Fame and the second woman given the honor, and was ranked fifteenth on Billiard Digest's Fifty Greatest Players of the [20th] Century.
I thought of Balukas when I posted this thread. Did she play billiards? That's what caught my eye about Katsura - I hadn't heard of any highly ranked women billiards players.

Props to both of 'em - and all the other tough ladies who get in the ring.

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05-20-2019, 04:50 PM

The pool equivalent of Katsura was definitely not Balukas,, but most likely BCA HOFer Ruth McGinnis, who toured with Greenleaf in the 1930's and 1940's, and even beat him a few times.

In 14.1, Ruth had a high run in competition of over 120 and even ran in the 80's on a 5 x 10.
  
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05-20-2019, 09:55 PM

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Originally Posted by Patrick Johnson View Post
Japanese sharpshooter Masako Katsura was a trailblazer of the pool halls in the 1950s.

SHE BROKE THE GENDER BARRIER … IN BILLIARDS - Ozy.com

Be sure to watch the short video of her doing 3C trick shots. https://youtu.be/19LCM_q8EyI

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chgo
Very cool, thanks for posting this.
  
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05-21-2019, 06:24 AM

Dorothy Wise
  
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05-21-2019, 12:02 PM

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Dorothy Wise
Yes, after Ruth McGinnis, Dorothy Wise, who came about twenty years later, was the first name that came to mind for me, too.
  
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