How good was Keith McCready?

xianmacx

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Congrats to Keith and JAM. Keith has personality, character and pure talent. This is what made me fall in love with pool. I recall one of the early DCC where Keith, Beryl and Alex were making a game. I was hanging on every word. Keith had someone go to a local bar and get a big cueball and they used it on a diamond barbox. At one point the ball got stuck in the ball return so Keith had the table flipped over!

Looking forward to the Derby! Maybe Ray can get Keith in the booth in the action room?!
Ian
 

grindz

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
FWIW, Keith will be inducted into the One Pocket Hall of Fame on January 24th in Louisville at the Derby for the Lifetime Pool in Action Award. Pretty fitting award for a player like Keith, I would say.

Keith is 60 years old today. I don't think any of us at 60 years old would play as well as we did when we were in our 20s or 30s. That's a given.

I abhor these who's-the-best threads, especially when people speak about players they know nothing about, have never seen play pool in person, are not even old enough to know anything factual about the player, and then there's omission of video footage of players from days gone by. Nobody knows these players except by word of mouth and eyewitness accounts.

Folks tend to root for the hometeam, too. It's a regional thing. I have pool favorites in my neck of the woods that I claim are the best. It's because I know them, seen them, watched them, followed their pool journey in life. I know more about them than I do, say -- oh, I don't know -- Ike Runnels or Cole Dickson or Boston Shorty, all very great players.

Yes, Keith is the Stu Ungar of the pool world, and when he was performing on a field of green, he was beautiful. People gravitated towards Keith when he was playing pool because he made pool fun. Those who know him well are aware of this, including me. It was a strange era in society back then. Lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, as they say. I'm lucky I made it to adulthoood unscathed, truth be told, because I am Woodstock alumni.

I am proud of Keith being inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Lifetime Pool in Action Award. Wild horses and threads like this won't keep me away from that celebration.

Carry on, knockers. If it makes you feel good to kick and bash a 60-year-old pool player who only ever wanted to entertain a crowd while competing, while gambling, while playing pool, then have at him. While you're knocking down one of the most colorful players in the history of pool, the rest of us will be celebrating with Keith, allowing him to have a little dignity in the autumn of his life.

Happy bday Keith!!! :)

Td
 

justadub

Rattling corners nightly
Silver Member
LOL. I just don't have the fight in me anymore, Lou. ;)

I find that difficult to believe.... :p

I cannot wait to read your reports on the 1P Hall Of Fame induction, and see the photo's, I know it's gonna be great (both the ceremony, and your reports about it!).
 

pt109

WO double hemlock
Gold Member
Silver Member
7CDA8398-D970-43B5-885E-F3A34133CC06.jpeg

The man standing to the right of Keith....that’s Mario Morra...Johnny’s father.
He’s a man of few words...plays pretty good for the dough...he looks like he can’t believe

how talkative Keith is....Keith probably says more in one day than Mario has said
in his whole lifetime...:)

McCready deals excitement.
 

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Happy Birthday Keith! And a huge congratulations on your induction into the One pocket Hall of Fame! It's great to finally see you get the recognition that you deserve!
 

AtLarge

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
FWIW, Keith will be inducted into the One Pocket Hall of Fame on January 24th in Louisville at the Derby for the Lifetime Pool in Action Award. Pretty fitting award for a player like Keith, I would say. ...

Congrats. From the OnePocket.org website, the players previously inducted in that category are Wade Crane, Harry Platis, Jimmy Reid, George Rood, Jimmy Spears, and Greg Sullivan.
 

pt109

WO double hemlock
Gold Member
Silver Member
The first time I saw Keith play was in a five man ring game on an 8-foot table at Greenway Billiards in Baton Rouge, LA. The year was 1978 and I'm not sure how old Keith was at the time but someone had made a comment that he was about 19 or 20. The bet was $100.00 on the nine. Players rotated in and out based on lack of funds or getting called to play in the tounament. Some top players of that era were playing in that ring game - Grady, Keith, Buddy Hall, Flyboy, Larry Hubbart to name a few. I sat and watched Keith run six or seven racks. He was very animated, he had the place in stitches. He was getting out from everywhere with amazing shots then his name was called for a match. He pulled out a wad to add his winnings to that had to have been 4-inches in diameter laughing and joking the entire time. All the rest if the players just shook their heads. Grady ended up busting the ring game and Keith ended up in second place losing in the finals to Jerry Brock. I sweated the match between him and Dan Louie to see who played Jerry in the finals and it was like watching the ring game all over again, ball flying all around the table, Keith getting out from everywhere and entertaining the crowd the entire time. Classic McCready. There were discussions at the time, just like today, on who was the best bar table player alive. Someone made the comment that since Keith was from another planet they needed to figure out who was the second best bar table player because Keith was so far above everyone else.


Lunchmoney

Great post....makes me wish I had been there.
 

jazznpool

Superior Cues--Unchalked!
Gold Member
Silver Member
I thought Morales and Keith did tangle. Keith went up to the other guys and said he couldn't shake the " little Mexican ".
Efren wanted some of Keith after Parica beat Keith.

Buddy took on Morales and beat him in that same event as the story goes.

I wonder if Jay Swanson and Keith tangled up some.

Keith and Swanee played several exhibition matches at the Billiard Tavern in downtown San Diego in the early to mid 80’s. There was a winner take all pot of cheese and lots of spectators. Dick MeGiveron was the owner of the Billiard Tavern then and he promoted these exhibitions. Helfert remembers theseI’m sure. No backers that I knew wanted to fund a gunfight between these warriors. I have no clue if they had matched up in the 70’s. Swanee was maybe 6-7 years older.
 

ChicagoRJ

EEEEEXCELLENT ;)
Gold Member
Silver Member
FWIW, Keith will be inducted into the One Pocket Hall of Fame on January 24th in Louisville at the Derby for the Lifetime Pool in Action Award. Pretty fitting award for a player like Keith, I would say.

Keith is 60 years old today. I don't think any of us at 60 years old would play as well as we did when we were in our 20s or 30s. That's a given.

I abhor these who's-the-best threads, especially when people speak about players they know nothing about, have never seen play pool in person, are not even old enough to know anything factual about the player, and then there's omission of video footage of players from days gone by. Nobody knows these players except by word of mouth and eyewitness accounts.

Folks tend to root for the hometeam, too. It's a regional thing. I have pool favorites in my neck of the woods that I claim are the best. It's because I know them, seen them, watched them, followed their pool journey in life. I know more about them than I do, say -- oh, I don't know -- Ike Runnels or Cole Dickson or Boston Shorty, all very great players.

Yes, Keith is the Stu Ungar of the pool world, and when he was performing on a field of green, he was beautiful. People gravitated towards Keith when he was playing pool because he made pool fun. Those who know him well are aware of this, including me. It was a strange era in society back then. Lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, as they say. I'm lucky I made it to adulthoood unscathed, truth be told, because I am Woodstock alumni.

I am proud of Keith being inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Lifetime Pool in Action Award. Wild horses and threads like this won't keep me away from that celebration.

Carry on, knockers. If it makes you feel good to kick and bash a 60-year-old pool player who only ever wanted to entertain a crowd while competing, while gambling, while playing pool, then have at him. While you're knocking down one of the most colorful players in the history of pool, the rest of us will be celebrating with Keith, allowing him to have a little dignity in the autumn of his life.

Great Post Jennie. I have not read much of this thread as I went right towards the end. If any of these rubes are knocking on Keith, they are either idiots, or just trolls, and quite possibly both.

But, at least they have now identified themselves. I mean, WTF, one of our "own" is getting great recognition. The guy put his time in, played the best of the best, loved cash games, played like a MONSTER, was part of the COM, and entertained the crowd at the same time. What's not to like?

I too hate the "who was better". When you got players at this level, I doubt anyone is gonna win 10 out of 10. More depends on how they feel that day, who stayed up all night, who had the lesser hangover, who was betting their own cash and who was not, who gets a few more rolls, whose break is working better that day, etc. etc. etc. Lots of factors. I mean, even the players know they can't beat everyone, all the time ;)

Reminds me of league a few weeks ago. Our best player and state champion was not there. We were playing an equally good team but without out best player. We wound up splitting the night with them. I told the captain without our guy being there, I'll take a split anytime. Her response was, "oh, we held him to under 20 points one time so we were not worried". yeah, like 10 fuggin years ago, you held the guy to a low score once during league. Like all knockers, she will never forget it, no matter that he has being lighting them them up for the next 9 years after that. Amazing. When they other teams best player can't make it I don't comment on how we beat him then, or did this when, blah, blah, blah. My comments is ussually, "that's a shame" with a sly smile. I'll take whatever the Pool God's give me that night ;)
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
Keith and Swanee played several exhibition matches at the Billiard Tavern in downtown San Diego in the early to mid 80’s. There was a winner take all pot of cheese and lots of spectators. Dick MeGiveron was the owner of the Billiard Tavern then and he promoted these exhibitions. Helfert remembers theseI’m sure. No backers that I knew wanted to fund a gunfight between these warriors. I have no clue if they had matched up in the 70’s. Swanee was maybe 6-7 years older.

I refereed and emceed a couple of these matches. It was winner take all for $1,000 and the other guy got 250 appearance money. Swanee was the hometown favorite and usually won, but not always. Keith was one of the only guys (along with Cole) who ever beat Swanee for the cash in San Diego. They also met many times in California tournaments and played some epic matches. California pool back then was dominated by Swanee, Keith, Cole and Kim; a pretty tough foursome to overcome. I will only add this, no out of state players wanted to come to Cali to face this group of players. Any one who did went home broke! :grin:
 

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think JAM just meant that Keith is now 60, not that his birthday is today.

[unless other sources are incorrect]

You are correct. He was born on April 9, 1957. Sooooooo, I'll change it to either a very late, or an early Happy Birthday. :eek:
 

LAMas

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here's the bottom line - Keith struck a little fear into EVERYONE! No matter what the bet or how important the match, Keith looked like he was just practicing. sauntering around the table, standing in all kinds of funny positions and whacking balls into the pockets!

You could not out gamble him, because he would bet the farm at any given moment and run out behind it. Keith devoured pressure! Was he the greatest player ever, probably not. Was he one of the best players to ever hold a cue, probably. What he was, was the most naturally gifted athlete to ever put a cue in his hands. He made a difficult game look like child's play. Keith never had to get down in a rigid stance or lock down solid on each shot. He was loose as a goose, all arms and elbows flying here and there and miraculous shots coming off his cue like tasty little morsels. You had to see it to believe it.

Through it all, Keith kept up a funny banter that kept his audience as loose as he was. People hung on his every word and stared in awe at his shot making. Keith was performance art, you had to be there to see it. Never one like him before and never one like him since.

Was he the greatest of all time, no. Was he the most colorful and most talented, yes. Our generation was fortunate to see Ronnie Allen, Louie Roberts and Keith McCready at the same time. All three had more charisma than the whole lot of them today!

That's my take on things. :yeah:

Great post Jay,
Many of us sweaters would drive across town to see Keith gamble for he was Mr. Entertainment. He brought life and enjoyment to an otherwise dull game of stoic shooters

I watched him gamble with Amarillo Slim - what a pair of entertainers..
 

pt109

WO double hemlock
Gold Member
Silver Member
Just to give you an idea of the shotmaking accuracy Keith had- At the 2004 Glass City Open, they had a Valley bar box set up in the lobby and had challenge matches on it for a T-shirt if you beat the pro. Well, I had played Keith a couple hours before in the trny, and then we saw him at the challenge table.

I gave my 10 year old daughter $5 and told her to try him some.;) Keith breaks them, makes sure he doesn't make anything, and leaves her a good shot on the one. She makes it, and then is totally lost on what to do. She misses, and Keither gets up to shoot. He runs them out in seconds, leaves himself the 9 about a diamond and half from the end rail and a diamond and a half from the side rail with about a half ball cut on it.

She is looking a little dismayed at this point. Keith slams the 9 ball, catching the points of the pocket, having it bounce back and forth about ten times, and it stops right on the lip of the pocket! He gets up and smiles at me. She makes the 9 and is ecstatic. Keith then signs the T-shirt "I beat your dad, but I couldn't beat you!".

Try that shot sometime, and see if you can rattle the pocket like that on purpose on a Valley table and NOT drop the ball! I still find it hard to believe that he could do that on demand! Bounce out, or drop, yeah, but keep it right in between the jaws??

Keith- she still has that T-shirt and about once a year rubs it in my face. :D
I just took the time to read this whole thread...some great stories...
...this was one of them.
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
McCready

I wish I could've sweated some of the action matches with Keith in the late 70s and early 80s.

He was from the action road era, and while he won some tournaments I think it's been well established that his best game was played in the back rooms. He wasn't a 'perfect pool player' and I'm sure the modern day era robots would have an edge in a tournament format where you can't make errors and Texas Express sets are won based on moving and consistency.

But in a pool hall, on worn cloth, playing two foul push out that rewards eagle eye shot making, playing ahead sets that hinge on who can catch the higher gear and do the most damage when they are riding the wave, I fully understand how Keith McCready could've achieved the level of dominance that made him legendary.

Besides, JAM is spot on about the fear, sure people get dog it to name players in a tournament, but when you know you only need two more racks to win a set there is no doubt in your mind that you have it within you to reach the finish line. Playing someone for money heads up is a test of belief, and Keith not only was fearless enough to never doubt his abilities, he radiated enough confidence that his opponents would inevitably doubt theirs. Even the champions. It's like playing poker, when someone moves in for all of the money even pros sometimes feel their second nut hand can't be any good and much the cards.

I've seen glimpses of this in televised matches. In 2003 I believe I saw a match of him vs Buddy Hall in the US Open. I believe it was the loser's side match, the one where he said "I beat the line, I got one" when he won his first game. I don't remember anything of the match other than when I watched it I understood some of the magic Keith possessed in days past.

The best I can compare it to is Jesse Bowman. I've played Jesse probably 5-10 times and have seen him play many more on a bar table. Granted he doesn't get there consistently with SVB or a couple other elite. But he must be somewhat magical. His style of play is fast and loose, totally uncalculated. It looks totally reckless and like he's going to have to crash and burn at some point, but instead he somehow not only survives, but while you're waiting for him to hook himself or make a careless mistake he's somehow posted up 6 or 7 racks. Set after set! It's darned spooky.

Take that level of feel and flow, give it to a player with the heart of a lion and the eyes of an eagle, throw in the confidence that comes from being a level above your competition and a near undefeated track record, then put him in money games on worn cloth and long sessions with two foul push out rules, and I can absolutely see how this adds up to him barraging champions and making everyone want to run for cover. All of the other top champions were amazing tournament players, but they wanted to play people that showed some nerves or weakness, someone that showed that they were concerned about hooking themselves, someone that took a deep breath to calm their nerves when they got out of line, someone that agonized a bit, someone who's demeanor reflected the stakes that were being played for. They didn't want any part of a guy that ran around the table celebrating when he left himself a trick shot because he knew he was going to make it and couldn't wait to see his opponent's reaction when he did. It really was like a nightmare and those champions wanted to play other champions that played by the normal rules and didn't sore above them like Keith did.
 

terryhanna

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I wish I could've sweated some of the action matches with Keith in the late 70s and early 80s.

He was from the action road era, and while he won some tournaments I think it's been well established that his best game was played in the back rooms. He wasn't a 'perfect pool player' and I'm sure the modern day era robots would have an edge in a tournament format where you can't make errors and Texas Express sets are won based on moving and consistency.

But in a pool hall, on worn cloth, playing two foul push out that rewards eagle eye shot making, playing ahead sets that hinge on who can catch the higher gear and do the most damage when they are riding the wave, I fully understand how Keith McCready could've achieved the level of dominance that made him legendary.

Besides, JAM is spot on about the fear, sure people get dog it to name players in a tournament, but when you know you only need two more racks to win a set there is no doubt in your mind that you have it within you to reach the finish line. Playing someone for money heads up is a test of belief, and Keith not only was fearless enough to never doubt his abilities, he radiated enough confidence that his opponents would inevitably doubt theirs. Even the champions. It's like playing poker, when someone moves in for all of the money even pros sometimes feel their second nut hand can't be any good and much the cards.

I've seen glimpses of this in televised matches. In 2003 I believe I saw a match of him vs Buddy Hall in the US Open. I believe it was the loser's side match, the one where he said "I beat the line, I got one" when he won his first game. I don't remember anything of the match other than when I watched it I understood some of the magic Keith possessed in days past.

The best I can compare it to is Jesse Bowman. I've played Jesse probably 5-10 times and have seen him play many more on a bar table. Granted he doesn't get there consistently with SVB or a couple other elite. But he must be somewhat magical. His style of play is fast and loose, totally uncalculated. It looks totally reckless and like he's going to have to crash and burn at some point, but instead he somehow not only survives, but while you're waiting for him to hook himself or make a careless mistake he's somehow posted up 6 or 7 racks. Set after set! It's darned spooky.

Take that level of feel and flow, give it to a player with the heart of a lion and the eyes of an eagle, throw in the confidence that comes from being a level above your competition and a near undefeated track record, then put him in money games on worn cloth and long sessions with two foul push out rules, and I can absolutely see how this adds up to him barraging champions and making everyone want to run for cover. All of the other top champions were amazing tournament players, but they wanted to play people that showed some nerves or weakness, someone that showed that they were concerned about hooking themselves, someone that took a deep breath to calm their nerves when they got out of line, someone that agonized a bit, someone who's demeanor reflected the stakes that were being played for. They didn't want any part of a guy that ran around the table celebrating when he left himself a trick shot because he knew he was going to make it and couldn't wait to see his opponent's reaction when he did. It really was like a nightmare and those champions wanted to play other champions that played by the normal rules and didn't sore above them like Keith did.
Love to watch Jesse Bowman play his style of play so much reminds me of the great gunfighters of the past.

I was lucky to have got a chance to see Keith M ,Louie Roberts,CJ Wiley and a few others that had the true gunfighter mentality back in the day.Love watching those guys play the fast and loose style.
 

Eric.

Club a member
Silver Member
View attachment 479570

The man standing to the right of Keith....that’s Mario Morra...Johnny’s father.
He’s a man of few words...plays pretty good for the dough...he looks like he can’t believe

how talkative Keith is....Keith probably says more in one day than Mario has said
in his whole lifetime...:)

McCready deals excitement.

That shot was taken at SBE in Valley Forge. I would say 2003 or 2004. I have a similar shot (not sure who took this one).


Eric
 

JAM

Professional Railbird
Silver Member
View attachment 479570

The man standing to the right of Keith....that’s Mario Morra...Johnny’s father.
He’s a man of few words...plays pretty good for the dough...he looks like he can’t believe

how talkative Keith is....Keith probably says more in one day than Mario has said
in his whole lifetime...:)

McCready deals excitement.

Oooh, I like the direction this thread has taken. :grin-square:

I took that photo. Keith was flashing the cheese to me, acting silly, while he was waiting for his opponent to rack the balls. That's the action table at SBE. I think it was 2003. Might have been 2004.

I did not know that was Mr. Morra. I watched John Morra play in WPC this year. What a great kid! Everybody was pulling for him to win. He has a nice demeanor about him. He did well this year. Didn't go as far as he wanted, but he played well.

The guy in the back-and-white checkered shirt on the sidelines? That's none other than Ronnie "Everything's funny when you're winning big money" Wiseman. :)
 

JAM

Professional Railbird
Silver Member
I find that difficult to believe.... :p

I cannot wait to read your reports on the 1P Hall Of Fame induction, and see the photo's, I know it's gonna be great (both the ceremony, and your reports about it!).

I'd rather listen to Allman Brothers at 3 a.m. with you, Justadub! It's more fun! :cool:
 
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