1960s major tournaments

arnaldo

AzB Silver Member
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Didn't know that. Believe her name is Karen, correct?
Steve and Karen raised two sons and two grandchildren.

Arnaldo
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WildWing

AzB Silver Member
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Steve and Karen raised two sons and two grandchildren.

Arnaldo
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Thanks for confirming that, I thought her name was Karen. I wonder if any of the offspring became pool players?
 

arnaldo

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Thanks for confirming that, I thought her name was Karen. I wonder if any of the offspring became pool players?
Steve encouraged (and coached) a serious amateur-player level of interest in the sport for them. There's an easy to find YT video of adult Steve Jr. playing respectable pool with an admirable stroke and understanding of table navigation.

Arnaldo
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AtLarge

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...Knowing about Willie's all-too-recent health issues: two heart attacks and a stroke -- my buddies and I were equally glad the men were rapidly separated. ...
Arnaldo -- Mosconi had a stroke in 1956 (age 43) and died from a heart attack in 1993 (age 80). But I have never heard, nor read, about his having two heart attacks by 1966 (age 53). His autobiography talks about the stroke and his recovery in the ensuing years, but says nothing about any heart attack. What is the source of your belief that he had two heart attacks before he was 53?
 

galipeau

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What i am trying to find is a professional major tournament... Was there none in the United States. . ? I'm trying to write a fiction book of a life of a pro player, no gambling. Did we not have any pro players that weren't hustling? Time gets by so fast... thank you ... Guy
I can't imagine any high caliber players that didn't gamble at the time. I think it comes with the territory. Maybe in 3c which was considered more gentlemanly.

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arnaldo

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Arnaldo -- Mosconi had a stroke in 1956 (age 43) and died from a heart attack in 1993 (age 80). But I have never heard, nor read, about his having two heart attacks by 1966 (age 53). His autobiography talks about the stroke and his recovery in the ensuing years, but says nothing about any heart attack. What is the source of your belief that he had two heart attacks before he was 53?
AtLarge: A constant stream of highly-animated contemporary sports radio discussions in the SoCal region immediately prior to the start of the 1966 Burbank tournament.

Every room in the region was buzzing with excitement and anticipation regarding Willie's current and past health and his fitness to participate. Listeners were encouraged to call-in and contribute to the conversations. Many of the callers (and a few of the moderators themselves) knew Willie personally for decades.

A 53 year-old round-robin entry at the time, might roughly equate to a 73 year-old entry of today in the public's mind. There was great speculation and empathetic concern about Willie's return to the pressures of major competition -- especially given the re-emergence of the historically traditional, but highly stressful (for older players) round-robin format for 14.1 which had now become hugely popular for LA fans due to Fred Whalen's very successful annual events throughout the 1960s and very early '70s

The co-promoters Arnie Satin and Arnie Rosen hoped to capitalize on the 14.1 interest Whalen had regionally generated by echoing Whalen's RR format and the requisite tuxedo apparel.

Sadly, the pressure of promoting the event (and unenviably working with Satin) may have incrementally contributed to Rosen himself dying of a heart attack within days after of the start of the nearly round-the-clock matches.

Arnaldo
 

galipeau

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Guy, I don't mean to poke holes in your story, but here's my issue from what I gather about your premise. Christian pool player, doesn't gamble, but plays tournaments. Now I presume the tournaments require a cash buy in. To me this is no different than gambling. You bet on yourself to do well enough in a competition that you gain money at the end, or risk losing it. How is this different than a money match? I understand its not the same as hustling, but it's unrealistic to meet a character that plays pool in the golden age of the sport but does not gamble.

I urge you to read up on Mike Massey. He used to be a road man, tournament player, and later in life embraced Christianity and quit gambling. There's got to be a flaw in your character for him and the reader to overcome.

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AtLarge

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AtLarge: A constant stream of highly-animated contemporary sports radio discussions in the SoCal region immediately prior to the start of the 1966 Burbank tournament.

Every room in the region was buzzing with excitement and anticipation regarding Willie's current and past health and his fitness to participate. Listeners were encouraged to call-in and contribute to the conversations. Many of the callers (and a few of the moderators themselves) knew Willie personally for decades.
...
Sorry, but I see nothing there but hearsay or rumors, nothing that lends any credence to the claim that Mosconi had two heart attacks before he was 53. In his autobiography he talks openly about his stroke in 1953 and his recovery, finally feeling fully recovered by 1963. But there is no mention of any heart attack(s).

Of course he also talks about his swan song in championship-level play, the 1966 event in Burbank. Willie doesn't give as much detail as you did above. But one difference is that Willie said it was an 18-player round-robin event, which would mean 17 matches, and that his match with Balsis was last because of the foresight of the schedulers (Balsis being the reigning BCA champion). So, yes, they were breaking a 14-2 tie, but it was part of the round-robin play rather than a playoff match after the round-robin play -- at least, according to the book.

Also, please read this post: https://forums.azbilliards.com/threads/on-willies-table-neils-could-run-5-260.271044/#post-3545055. Do you think he is talking about the same Mosconi/Balsis match? If so, the details are quite different from what you wrote. And the scoring of the game is different from what Willie wrote. But it would be strange if Willie and Satin had two scuffles (or nearly so) after 2nd-place finishes by Willie in big events.
 

AtLarge

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... Now I presume the tournaments require a cash buy in. To me this is no different than gambling. You bet on yourself to do well enough in a competition that you gain money at the end, or risk losing it. How is this different than a money match? ...
I don't consider playing in a pool tournament with an entry fee, or playing a challenge match for money (an entry fee), to be gambling. They are both competitions of skill, whether it is a multi-player tournament or a 2-person tournament. The gambling comes in when other people, who are not competing, bet on an outcome over which they have no control (like a horse race, or the spin of a roulette wheel, or someone else's pool match).
 

arnaldo

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Sorry, but I see nothing there but hearsay or rumors, nothing that lends any credence to the claim that Mosconi had two heart attacks before he was 53. In his autobiography he talks openly about his stroke in 1953 and his recovery, finally feeling fully recovered by 1963. But there is no mention of any heart attack(s).

Of course he also talks about his swan song in championship-level play, the 1966 event in Burbank. Willie doesn't give as much detail as you did above. But one difference is that Willie said it was an 18-player round-robin event, which would mean 17 matches, and that his match with Balsis was last because of the foresight of the schedulers (Balsis being the reigning BCA champion). So, yes, they were breaking a 14-2 tie, but it was part of the round-robin play rather than a playoff match after the round-robin play -- at least, according to the book.

Also, please read this post: https://forums.azbilliards.com/threads/on-willies-table-neils-could-run-5-260.271044/#post-3545055. Do you think he is talking about the same Mosconi/Balsis match? If so, the details are quite different from what you wrote. And the scoring of the game is different from what Willie wrote. But it would be strange if Willie and Satin had two scuffles (or nearly so) after 2nd-place finishes by Willie in big events.
Read post #13 (Diliberto/Fels) in the link you supply and selectively drew from. I knew Danny D. quite well from scorekeeping several of his Fred Whalen tourney matches during the 1960s. He was standing with a few of the other entries about six feet away from me and my pool buddies at the closing ceremonies and saw exactly what what we saw. No ridiculous knockout punch by Willie, etc. which you reference in someone's long total-bs post from 10 years ago full of invented particulars that were dead wrong.

Satin was indeed the ref for most of the matches and the promoter. Danny remembered things quite well, given that he was reaching way back to the '60s. He slightly mis-remembered co-promoter Arnie Rosen's surname as "Rizen". As mentioned Rosen died soon after the event began.

There's a certain uncalled-for, actually a bit mean-spirited quality A.L. in your critique of my well-intended pool history contributions that is rather atypical of you -- to the extent that I'm familiar with your posts in the past.

Arnaldo ~ And yes I know it all goes with the territory and it's all good activity for all of us.
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AtLarge

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Read post #13 (Diliberto/Fels) in the link you supply and selectively drew from. I knew Danny D. quite well from scorekeeping several of his Fred Whalen tourney matches during the 1960s. He was standing with a few of the other entries about six feet away from me and my pool buddies at the closing ceremonies and saw exactly what what we saw. No ridiculous knockout punch by Willie, etc. which you reference in someone's long total-bs post from 10 years ago full of invented particulars that were dead wrong.

Satin was indeed the ref for most of the matches and the promoter. Danny remembered things quite well, given that he was reaching way back to the '60s. He slightly mis-remembered co-promoter Arnie Rosen's surname as "Rizen". As mentioned Rosen died soon after the event began.

There's a certain uncalled-for, actually a bit mean-spirited quality A.L. in your critique of my well-intended pool history contributions that is rather atypical of you -- to the extent that I'm familiar with your posts in the past.

Arnaldo ~ And yes I know it all goes with the territory and it's all good activity for all of us.
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Nothing mean spirited was intended in my posts. And I'm glad to read corroboration by Danny D. of what you said about the Mosconi/Satin "encounter." (I'm sure I read it 10 years ago, but had forgotten).

As for the 2 heart attacks before age 53, perhaps it is true, and perhaps solid, convincing evidence exists somewhere. But you were writing about an event you watched 56 years ago, and mentioned something I have never before heard about a person of significant historical interest. So I asked what your source was. And, given your response as to how you got the information, I don't think we should take the scuttlebutt as gospel.

Arnaldo, I'm kind of a stickler for accuracy in what people say about pool events and history. Many times I have read statements that the person believed to be true but were not. I fully appreciate your contributions to AzB; you bring a wealth of experience, and you write well. But that doesn't mean that I won't ask about something in one of your posts if it strikes me as questionable, or if I have read conflicting accounts. Carry on!
 

Island Drive

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I played in a US Open 14.1 Qualifier in Wheaton IL/Lord & Ladies pool room, probably 68? 69?. Was playing the best 14.1 at that time. Varner and I were always neck/neck in that game, tho rotation I had the best of it. I was in the finals but caught strep/throat the day before and couldn't run a rack, when 40 and 80 ball runs were common in my game then. Got to the finals, played Mataya, he didn't have the best of it in that game at that moment in time, but I got the kissing disease and had no game. I was sick/mentally because I wanted to be there with Irving Crane and the boys whom I had got to know at Janscos. Oh well, life.
 
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62Stratus

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You can research back issues of National Billiard News by visiting the Goldmine here at AZ. Lots of tournament results in NBN. On a related note, hasn't it always been difficult to earn a living just by playing tournaments?
 

AtLarge

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arnaldo -- Here's a contemporaneous account of the Burbank event, on page 2 of the April 1966 The National Billiard News:

Willie was something, eh?

[And I wonder why they put a picture of Danny Jones there on page 2; it looks like he wasn't even in the event, nor do I see any mention of him in the article about Lou Butera that starts on that page.]
 
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MattPoland

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My approach to this would’ve been to Google some top players of that era and see what titles they’ve won on Wiki.

Crane, Lassiter, Murphy, Mizerak

 

arnaldo

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arnaldo -- Here's a contemporaneous account of the Burbank event, on page 2 of the April 1966 The National Billiard News:
Willie was something, eh?
As happens often with many exceptional athletes, actors, painters and other performers in the visual and musical arts, a crisis point may suddenly arrive in their lives and with enough immediate and unceasing frustration and confusion, aberrational self-defeating behavior and lashing out happens.
Such was probably the case here with Willie during these weeks, in my opinion.

To my knowledge there's a factor that hasn't been speculated upon elsewhere relative to Willie's mountingly eccentric & atypical reactions and behavior during those tournament weeks, but I've been around many aging folks who (a) don't -- paraphrasing Dylan Thomas -- "go gently'" into their senior years and (b) are often placed (perhaps including Willie) on a spectrum of strong medications to attenuate a periodically serious health problem or condition. -- Medications whose side effects and contraindications were poorly understood in the 1960s -- then grossly manifest when these folks are under severe temporary or long-lasting stress (either physical stress or stress of a mental & emotional nature).

Both types of stress were present in this case, and we have to grant that this was a very unenviable turning point in Willie's astonishingly unprecedented career, inarguably and tragically forcing him to realize that no more high level competitive playing was going to happen for him. (Exhibition play of course remained satisfyingly open to him for a number of years thereafter.)

Arnaldo ~ My admiration for this great man remains undiminished. There's a very old adage: "Judge the artist's work -- not the artist himself."

And btw, A.L. thanks for the excellent research in finding that abstruse local coverage. A bit error-ridden and factually inadequate but it definitely manages to colorfully convey how high emotions were running and being quite irrationally exuded from the principal actors during those days of totally unexpected drama, (as all who witnessed it first-hand can attest to).
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Guy Manges

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Eric: You, Guy and other AZBers will likely enjoy more of my recollections (and involvement) in the major pool tournament scene during that period:

There's a now widely-known anecdote relating to the time when Luther Lassiter had just completed a long, flawless Straight Pool run-out in front of a packed house in Los Angeles. He was busy screwing together his cue when a dazzled teenage fan in the front row asked him a clearly heard question:

"Do you ever give lessons Mr. Lassiter?"

Luther politely replied: "No, son -- I can't teach pool, because I don't know what I'm doing."

Many in the crowd chuckled heartily, but most just smilingly agreed and nodded, knowing full well the subtlety of what Luther meant by the answer. He was often heard to give the same answer during many later years.

True story. I was about 15 feet away, having served for this particular match as one of the many volunteer, rotating scorekeepers at this mid-1960s World Invitational 14.1 Championship -- an event that was one of many in the exciting series of them founded and managed by Fred Whalen in the huge downtown Elks Club in Los Angeles. Fred held these ambitious 14.1 Round-robin events annually -- from the early 1960s thru the early 1970s. The counterpart, (unrelated) NYC 14.1 Invitationals were held for a number of years by different organizers, in the Hotel Commodore. Mandated tuxedos on both coasts. Lassiter and Cisero Murphy had a memorable Commodore match there one year.

Addicted LA locals like myself and Jay Helfert, and about a dozen other fellows during that decade, loved scorekeeping those matches, because during those 3-week round-robins we got to meet and get to know every one of the star entries who turned out for the tourneys. There was always plenty of press and TV interview coverage every year, and always in attendance were show biz folks who liked great 14.1 (Fred Astaire, Peter Falk, Johnny Mathis, Paul Sorvino, etc.). I got to know my fellow New Yorker, actor Vic Morrow, very well. He loved watching professional 14.1. I often casually coached him in Red Baker's North Hollywood room half-a-block from the corner of Magnolia & Vineland.

I was working graveyard tool-making shifts at Lockheed (Burbank) and had plenty of convenient time available to Freeway-down for those dream scorekeeping duties at the daily matches.

I've still got a few of the annual event official programs from those years that I'm going to scan and pdf for the AZB pool history project recently announced on this forum. My 1970 program bears the enjoyably-wrought signature of Mizerak and a number of other top invitee players.

As mentioned elsewhere, I'm of Danny Diliberto's Depression Era-born generation (couple months apart in the mid-1930s), and got to also know Danny very well when I score-kept a number of his matches as part of that approx. 12-man rotating group of L.A.-based volunteer scorekeepers at each of Fred Whalen's annual Round-robin Invitational 14.1 Championships (held at that downtown Elks Club during most years of the 1960s and early years of the 1970s).

Arnaldo
Thank you, odd how Vic died in a helicopter crash doing twilight zone ? That was on YouTube...
 

Guy Manges

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My approach to this would’ve been to Google some top players of that era and see what titles they’ve won on Wiki.

Crane, Lassiter, Murphy, Mizerak

Matt thanks for doing that... Guy
 
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