Best Player that Quit Early on

Tommy-D

World's best B player...
Silver Member
> Good stories here. A player that I felt was destined for greatness at a young age didn't up and quit,he was killed by an accidental discharge that was preceeded by an argument over Chinese food. His name was Peter Keanu,but I only knew him as Tito. When I met him,he had been playing about a year,and was already about an APA 7. Two years later,he was said to be living around Tulsa,and was making a living beating the 10-ball ghost. In just 3 years,he was close to the speed of players like Hennessee,Billy Young,and Bill Bailey. He had a stroke that was just a thing of beauty,and approaching Larry Nevel-like power. Tommy D.
 

Stones

YEAH, I'M WOOFING AT YOU!
Silver Member
mosconiac said:
How about Mark Jarvis & Jimmy Wetch?

I see that Wetch came out of retirement for the IPT, but I wonder if he's back into retirment now?

What happened to Mark?

I searched this thread and didn't see them mentioned. If they were, excuse me.

Mark played in the Men's Master in Vegas last week. I know cuz I caught him in the second round and he wupped me 7-5. Nice guy!

Stones
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
Here's a name from the past. Dalton was a terrific Asian player living in L.A. Just under Brian's speed. He became a successful actor and was killed in a robbery in New York in the late 70's. Does anyone else remember Dalton, a handsome kid.
 

Russ Chewning

Short Bus Russ - C player
Silver Member
I know this thread is about pool, but I think one of the all time saddest stories of someone who quit young in any game/sport is Bobby Fischer, the American chess player.

For those who don't know the story, at the time Bobby made his meteoric rise through American chess, America was not the place you wanted to grow up as a chessplayer, much like modern America and pool. America did not support Bobby at all, and he had to fight for funding from the US Chess Federation in order to compete internationally. A lot of times, he competed by getting donations from the chess community.

Russians ruled international chess. Bobby taught himself Russian in order to read their chess manuals. Bobby, however, suffered from increasing paranoia and mental instability. His requests during competition became more and more burdensome.

He won the World Championship over Boris Spassky, then immediately retreated from the chess scene. After withdrawing from his friends, Bobby became more and more unstable, until he ended up on Filipino radio spouting anti-Semitic comments to the world.

It just doesn't get any more tragic than this. He was a generation's symbol of defiance towards the communist threat from Russia. It gave so many hope to see one American man, through sheer brilliance, defeat the Soviet chess machine that had been churning out world champions for decades.. Bobby Fischer was a superstar whose popularity in those days, probably eclipsed many of the major movie stars of the day. For those who never saw any pictures of him, he was an extremely handsome man, and at the height of his popularity, if he wasn't so shy, would have had his pick of women from any strata of society. That's the beauty of being the best chess player in the world, young, handsome, and charismatic.. Unfortunately.. He was also extremely shy around women. His charisma was mainly devoted to talking about chess. Like Warren Buffet, Bobby had so much enthusiasm about his chosen profession, that he could fascinate you with an intrinsicly boring subject.

To see a man with that much talent descend into insanity in such a public way has been a hard blow on the entire international chess community. When Bobby played a rematch against Spassky in the 90's, even the Russians were anticipating seeing if the brilliance of Fischer had held through the years. Sadly, it had not. He played at a "mediocre" (for an International GrandMaster) level.

Bobby's best days were far far behind him.

Sorry for taking the thread off topic, but I felt that I have rarely seen any story of lost potential as sad as Fischer's..:(

Russ
 
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Terry Ardeno

I still love my wife
Silver Member
Mark Beilfus and Tom Jennings, two 14.1 specialists, quit early.
Keith Thompson became an Evangelist and gave up the game cold turkey.
Howie Pearl "retired" too early. David Howard. Ray Schultz. Steve Knight.

Of all of them, I was sorriest over Sigel and Margo. Margo was always a threat and very "colorful" as well. I always thought a lot of his game.
 

wahcheck

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
yep

jay helfert said:
Here's a name from the past. Dalton was a terrific Asian player living in L.A. Just under Brian's speed. He became a successful actor and was killed in a robbery in New York in the late 70's. Does anyone else remember Dalton, a handsome kid.

I remember Dalton Leong, used to hang out with Lawrence Lee ... supposedly one of the best Chinese pool players out of San Francisco in the 60's and 70's (except maybe Mr. Jimmy Wong)....

and when someone mentioned Jimmy Wetch, it reminded me of Reed Pierce...both these guys (I think) won U.S. Open tournaments, and apparently have left the game.....
 

rossaroni

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
wahcheck said:
I remember Dalton Leong, used to hang out with Lawrence Lee ... supposedly one of the best Chinese pool players out of San Francisco in the 60's and 70's (except maybe Mr. Jimmy Wong)....

and when someone mentioned Jimmy Wetch, it reminded me of Reed Pierce...both these guys (I think) won U.S. Open tournaments, and apparently have left the game.....

Jimmy never won a U.S. Open, but Reed Pierce did. Jimmy still plays(maybe not as much as before)- he had his IPT card.
 

Island Drive

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
wahcheck said:
I remember Dalton Leong, used to hang out with Lawrence Lee ... supposedly one of the best Chinese pool players out of San Francisco in the 60's and 70's (except maybe Mr. Jimmy Wong)....

I remember Dalton, when I moved to Frisco winter of 72 I ran into him on Van Ness in a pool room, at the time I knew of his 9-ball skills and talked him into a 14.1 match. It wasn't a huge bet, but at the time substantial. We got the supposid house man to hold the stakes. The game was close for awhile then I ran 3-4 racks and out, when I look up the guy holding the dough was gone. A few years later I ran into him in New Orleans at ?Palace? Blackie was playing out of there at the time, Mary Kenniston was traveling and learing from NY at that time. Theroom had all Brunswicks and many 4x8 Gold Crowns and the best Boiled Shrimp. I somehow got into another game with Dalton (9 ball) probably because my game was much better and the money was handled by US. During our game he told me I would get my money back, the match didn't last that long and I got my money back from San Fran + some and all was well.
 

jmorton

Registered
hemicudas said:
It's going to take some of you old scuffs to remember this name but today in Houston, TX they still remember the name, Keith "Little Squirrel" Thompson. Keith at the ripe age of 17 won the one pocket division and all around at one of, if not the, last Johnston City tournament. Quit playing all together shortly afterwards. A great loss to the game.

It's been 37 years and I have never forgotten Squirrel.

I am from Fremont, CA. In about 1970 Cole Dickson came in off the road. (He's from Fremont.) He rolled in town from Huston driving a faded green VW bug with a large dent in the front fender. Seems they hit a deer on the way.

I was just 16 at the time. I was in the Family Billiards with just a few other people. Cole had been knocking a few balls around. And now he was just sitting on a bar stool next to the table. Next to him stood a skinny guy with long brown shoulder length straight hair. I think it was this guy that owned the VW.

Anyway, nothing was going on. So Cole goes over to the table and places the cue ball on the center rail of the short rail and the eight ball across table on the center rail of the other short rail. He says, "Squirrel, go over there and shoot that shot."

Squirrel takes his cue stick that was leaning against the table and strides over to the table right in front of me. He leans down and strokes up one time then shoots cutting the 8 ball into the corner pocket like it was nothing. The only thing I ever heard of Squirrel after that is that he had won the World Nine Ball Championship a couple of years later. This must be at Jansco's.

I have been obsessed with finding out who this guy was for 37 years! But just yesterday I asked an old-timer here at Hard Times in Bellflower CA who it might have been and he told me who he thought it might have been: Keith Thompson better known as Squirrel.

So now in this thread when you said Keith Thompson and Squirrel and Houston... Well I'll be damned. I can now sleep a little easier at night.

By the way. I met a guy from Texas about 7 years ago. He's the only person I've ever met who heard of Squirrel until I just started asking around. He told me that Squirrel became a preacher. Yep.

JM
 
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hemicudas

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Jerry Dalton

jay helfert said:
Here's a name from the past. Dalton was a terrific Asian player living in L.A. Just under Brian's speed. He became a successful actor and was killed in a robbery in New York in the late 70's. Does anyone else remember Dalton, a handsome kid.

I remember him well, Jay. His name was Jerry Dalton. Came through the south in the mid 70s. I gambled with him in Jackson and a few months later in Ft. Walton Beach. I had not heard anything from him after that and did wonder what happened to him. Sad to hear he was killed.
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
I'm glad someone mentioned Mark Beilfuss. He was absolutely the best player I knew that quit at a very young age, maybe only 18 or 19. I heard it was either girls or drugs that got him. Don't know for sure.

Coltrain quit young as did Kucharo. Both were champions already. Bonnie Hoffman was the best women player I saw quit young. Jean was 29 when she quit and had won everything for years. Margo was in his early 30's and had been a top player for at least ten years. He realized he wasn't going to get rich playing pool, so he got into the Movie Rental business, and did get rich.

Chan Witt was a great young player, who died at age 19 or 20 in a car accident several years ago. And now young Tyler Strawn is killed by a car this year at age 20. Tony Ellin was in his 30's when he died, and had already won major tournaments.

Gene Nagy was one of the greatest players who ever lived! And who has heard of him? He pretty much gave up tournament pool by age 30. He was responsible for making a champion out of Jeanette Lee. Jerry Brock got busted and was put away for a long stretch. Richie Austin was a helluva gambler out of Memphis, who is still serving time for murder. He has done over 25 years already. Joe Balsis quit from age 21 until he was in his 40's. That was when he won all his titles.

I could probably think of others if I tried harder, but these are a few that come to mind.
 

daniel

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I knew him as Kim Dalton but everybody called him Dalton. I was with John Shupett & he matched up with Dalton on a big box outside of Cleveland. Can't remember who got the dough but Dalton played strong.
 

PIRANHA

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
hemicudas said:
It's going to take some of you old scuffs to remember this name but today in Houston, TX they still remember the name, Keith "Little Squirrel" Thompson. Keith at the ripe age of 17 won the one pocket division and all around at one of, if not the, last Johnston City tournament. Quit playing all together shortly afterwards. A great loss to the game.
Jay,That is one that I would have named ,since I was there.Of course I saw Harold Worth play also, was railbirding when he ran 125 and out playing 14.1, don't remember who he was playing (who was the statue.)Good call...LES
 

hemicudas

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
jay helfert said:
I'm glad someone mentioned Mark Beilfuss. He was absolutely the best player I knew that quit at a very young age, maybe only 18 or 19. I heard it was either girls or drugs that got him. Don't know for sure.

Coltrain quit young as did Kucharo. Both were champions already. Bonnie Hoffman was the best women player I saw quit young. Jean was 29 when she quit and had won everything for years. Margo was in his early 30's and had been a top player for at least ten years. He realized he wasn't going to get rich playing pool, so he got into the Movie Rental business, and did get rich.

Chan Witt was a great young player, who died at age 19 or 20 in a car accident several years ago. And now young Tyler Strawn is killed by a car this year at age 20. Tony Ellin was in his 30's when he died, and had already won major tournaments.

Gene Nagy was one of the greatest players who ever lived! And who has heard of him? He pretty much gave up tournament pool by age 30. He was responsible for making a champion out of Jeanette Lee. Jerry Brock got busted and was put away for a long stretch. Richie Austin was a helluva gambler out of Memphis, who is still serving time for murder. He has done over 25 years already. Joe Balsis quit from age 21 until he was in his 40's. That was when he won all his titles.

I could probably think of others if I tried harder, but these are a few that come to mind.

My long time running mate, Bill Stack, used to relate stories of Gene Nagy's prowess at the table, Jay. I never saw him play. Where was he from?
 

rossaroni

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
hemicudas said:
My long time running mate, Bill Stack, used to relate stories of Gene Nagy's prowess at the table, Jay. I never saw him play. Where was he from?

I think Nagy was from NY.
 

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm glad someone mentioned Mark Beilfuss. He was absolutely the best player I knew that quit at a very young age, maybe only 18 or 19. I heard it was either girls or drugs that got him. Don't know for sure.

Last year he thought of making a comeback. I played him some 9 ball and beat up on him pretty bad. Haven't seen him since. I heard that he has been playing some in Chicago, but mainly at home. I see his son a lot, but they aren't close. Mark did say that in a couple of years he is going to retire, and wants to try to make a comeback.

Curlycues will know for sure, but I heard he had quit because of his father. I guess his father wanted to be his coach, and he wanted George Ellis. A great shooter that used to play Harold Worst all the time. I guess he just said screw this and got married and started a family.?? His son works for him, but apparently hardly ever talks to him. Ask him any questions about him and he just says he doesn't know.???
 

crawfish

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
DawgAndy said:
Coletrain, I can't rember his first name. Mike I think.
Some players should've made it big but didn't, because of personal problems attitude etc. but that's another thread sometime.
Mike and I are friends. He had some medical problems that caused a shake in his arm.
 

crawfish

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Chuck Raulston said:
Brian Atchley hasn't played in years. He goes to church with a guy that occasionally comes in my pool room and he said he may stop by sometime, but he probably won't play.

Chuck Raulston
I thought Brian Atchley died of cancer?
 

ibuycues

I Love Box Cues
Gold Member
Silver Member
Some Good Ones

jay helfert said:
The "road player" who busted Keith T. was Greg Stevens, who gave the world the seven (with a couple of exceptions for players named B. Hall. R. Florence and W. Crane).

The best player I remember quitting young was Petey Margo, who was one of the best, and quit for a better line of work and got rich. "Omaha" John Shuput also comes to mind. One of the top bar pool players of his day, and he quit cold turkey too. Everyone else comes back (or tries to), including Mark Tadd, Tang, CJ and Roger G. These two quit for good. Sigel retired after age 40 and a long career. Jean B. also quit after a long and successful career.


Omaha John Shuput was a great player, he injured his neck and was not able to continue at the same level of play. I still have the fancy Josswest box cue he played with.

BTW, does anyone remember Emil Glocar from Akron, who quit cold in 1982 and went to Vegas to deal?

Will

Will
 
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