My vote for most dominating player ever is ...

topcat1953

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Very recently, I was visiting charlesursitti.com. In case you have not visited the site yet, the history of all or most of the major pool tournaments from the 1870’s through the 1980’s are listed. They are listed in chronological order by the dates and show the list of players, scores, innings, hi-runs. Very interesting to say the least.

Since I am a fan of 14.1 and am intrigued with the legends, I began to ponder the aged old question, “Who was the greatest? Greenleaf or Mosconi?” or better yet, “Who was the most dominating?” Even though I am in my late 50’s, I only saw Mosconi compete in exhibitions. Greenleaf was dead several years before I was born. So, at this point, while looking through the records, there were several points which came to my attention.

First, the modern game of 14.1 Continuous wasn’t even played until 1912 and all play was on 5X10 tables. In April of 1915, a 15 year old Ralph Greenleaf competed in the World Championship Qualifier, in Kansas City, finishing fourth with a 3-3 record. He appeared in the World Championship, held in Chicago, in 1916. There, he finished tied for fourth with a 7-5 record, in a field of 13, where they played Round Robin. The winner was Emmitt Blankenship.

Blankenship then lost a Challenge Match to Johnny Layton, 341-450, in May 1916, in Detroit. Hence, Layton then lost a Challenge match to Frank Taberski, 437-450, in September 1916, in Sedalia, MD. Then in October, 1916, still 16 years old, Greenleaf played Taberski a Challenge Match for the title and lost, 450-407, in New York City. They met again in a Challenge Match, January of 1918, in Milwaukee, where Taberski beat the 18 year old Greenleaf, 450-355.

In Philadelphia, 1919, at the age of 20, Greenleaf went 9-0 in a 10 player round robin, to win the World Championship. From there, he defended his title in a 4 man round robin, in Chicago, November, 1920. Back to Philadelphia, in October, 1921, and Ralph went 9-0 in a 10 player round robin for the World Championship, again. He later defended the title in a Challenge Match with Arthur Woods, December, 1921, New York City. Later, in February, 1922, he defeated former Champion Thomas Hueston, 450-133, establishing a new high run record of 100 balls. Again he defended against Walter Franklin, in New York City, May, 1922, winning 450-205. Another Challenge match in October, 1922, with Bennie Allen in Philadelphia resulted in a 450-257 Greenleaf win. Then a scheduled match with Arthur Church, in NYC, November,1922 resulted in Greenleaf winning by forfeit. In January of 1923, Greenleaf played Thomas Hueston again in Chicago, winning 600-333.

Then in October, 1923, 16 players played each other 16 times in 16 different cities, through April 1924. This was called the National Pocket Billiard League. Games were 100 pointers. Greenleaf went 92-20 and had the hi-run of 101. Later in April, the top four players from the League would play round robin 4 times in four different cities, Philly, KC, Minneapolis, Detroit. Bennie Allen tied Greenleaf with an 8-4 record, but lost the playoff to Ralph, 125-38.

The League ran again from October, 1924 till April 1925. Appears Greenleaf may not have finished the schedule because of a nervous breakdown. Taberski won with a record of 81-27 to Ralph’s 74-34. Frank Taberski would be stripped of the title in April 1926, for failure to defend.

In Philadelphia, November 1926, Greenleaf went 9-1 in a 10 player round robin to win the Championship again.

Then in a Match with Thomas Hueston, January, 1927, New York City, Greenleaf would lose 450-384. Hueston would then lose to Erwin Rudolph in May 1927, 450-361.

March, 1928 in Chicago, Ralph goes 9-1 in a 10 player round robin to win the Championship again. He defends against Andrew St. Jean, the Masked Marvel, May 1928, in NYC, 1500-1058. In December, 1928. a four man round robin was held for the Championship, in Chicago. Frank Taberski won a controversial playoff with Ralph, 125-41.

The World Championship in Detroit was December of 1929. Greenleaf went 6-1 with a high run of 126, to tie Erwin Rudolph. He then won the playoff 125-69. After unsuccessfully defending the Championship in 1930, Ralph went 11-0 in a 12 man round robin, November, 1931 in Philly. He went 9-0 in December, 1932, NYC, in a 10 player round robin. Greenleaf then defeated Andrew Ponzi, 1250-890, NYC, May 1933.

He would not win the title again until March. 1937, in NYC. In a 12 player round robin, Greenleaf tied with Ponzi, Jimmy Caras and Irving Crane with 8-3 records. He then won the four man playoff. Another 12 man round robin in October of 1937, Philly, saw him go 8-3 and tie Crane. Ralph won the playoff 125- (-1). Later in December, 1937, NYC, he defeated Crane in a Challenge Match 1500-550. This would be Ralph Greenleaf’s Last World Championship.

Between 1916, at 16 years of age and 1937, at 38 years of age, Ralph Greenleaf played for or defended the World’s Championship 26 times, winning 20 times. This took place over a span of 21 years. He did play in some World Championships during subsequent years, though never attained that Championship form again. Sadly, he died at age 50 in early 1950.

Would there ever be such a dominating player again?

Willie Mosconi played in a World Championship for the first time in December of 1933, in Chicago. He was 20 years old and nearly won the title. He would play for the Championship 5 more times during the 1930’s, nearly winning in 1938.

From November 1940 through to May, 1941, 8 players played each other 32 times in the World Championship League. Mosconi went 176-48 and was declared World Champion. He would defend the title in a 6 player double round robin, November, 1942.

Andrew Ponzi then defeated Willie 1250-1050, April, 1943. Willie then got revenge in February, 1944, by defeating Ponzi 1250-924. Then in January and February, 1945, Willie would play Greenleaf 48 blocks of 125 to defend the Title. Willie won 5498-3738. Greenleaf by that time, was not anywhere near the player he had been. In fact, because of his erratic behavior, he had actually been barred from some competitions.

Mosconi would defend against Jimmy Caras in February and March, 1946, by way of an 86 block match in 10 cities. Mosconi wins 8727-7508.

November, 1946, he plays 30 blocks of 125 in 4 cities versus Crane and wins 3750-2919. In May of 1947, another defense against Crane of 16 blocks of 125 in 2 cities, 2000-918. October, 1947, 32 blocks of 125 in 3 cities with Jimmy Caras that Mosconi wins 4000-2334. Then March, 1948, in Chicago, He plays 9 blocks of 150 versus Ponzi and wins 1350-643.
By now, the tournaments are being played on 4 1/2 X 9 foot tables. The tournament in Chicago, February, 1949, was a four man double round robin that Jimmy Caras wins.

Chicago, February, 1950, another 4 man double round robin where Mosconi and Crane tie. Willie wins playoff 150-112. January, 1951, a title defense of 20 blocks of 150 with Crane results in a 3000-2323 win. He goes 6-0 in another 4 man double round robin in Chicago, February, 1951. An 8-1 record in Boston, April, 1952 in a 10 man round robin was good enough to win again. Then another 9 man round robin in San Francisco, March, 1953, Willie goes 8-0.

In a title defense with Joe Procita, held in Philadelphia and Chicago, February 1954, they played 16 blocks of 150. Mosconi won every block and ran 150 twice.

An Unofficial World Tournament was held in Philadelphia with 7 players, March 1954. Luther Lassiter wins. Mosconi did not play.

Then in March, 1955, a 4 man double round robin in Philadelphia resulted in a tie with Irving Crane, where Crane wins the playoff 150-87. Mosconi wins back the title over Crane in November, 1955 with 10 blocks of 150, 1500-676.

A 6 city defense with Jimmy Caras, of 32 blocks of 150 in February 1956, results in Mosconi winning all 32 blocks, 6300-3007. Then, the 8 player double round robin April, 1956, in Kinston, NC, resulted in Mosconi going 14-0 with a high run of 150. After which, Mosconi played Jimmy Moore 12 blocks of 150, winning all of them, 1800 –879, Albuquerque, NM, march, 1956.

This would be his last World Championship, as he retires from competitive pool at the age of 43.

From 1933, at the age of 20, through to 1956 at the age of 43, Willie Mosconi played for the World Championship 28 times and winning or defending 19 times.

The case for the most dominating player ever. Of the 20 World Championship Titles won or defended by Ralph Greenleaf from 1919 to 1937, 10 of 15 attempts were won in round robin tournament play. For Willie Mosconi, 7 of his 19 titles were won or defended in Tournament play out of 13 attempts. In tournament play, the format was round robin for both players. Five times Greenleaf went undefeated to Mosconi’s 3.

Although, both were absolutely dominating in their era’s, my vote would have to go to Greenleaf as the most Dominating Ever.
 

DogsPlayingPool

"What's in your wallet?"
Silver Member
Between 1940 and 1957 Mosconi won 15 World Championships. That's 15 in an 18 year period, is that not dominant enough? :wink: An era was named after him. It was during the Mosconi era that pocket billiards overtook 3C as America's billiard game.

They were both great players, but come on. I'll take the guy on the left:





Here's some newsreel footage of the two of them when they gave exhibitions together:

Mosconi and Greenleaf
 
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Mr. Bond

Orbis Non Sufficit
Gold Member
Silver Member
Although they were both indisputably great, all things considered, the most dominant 14.1 player, to me, was Greenleaf. His mastery of the 10ft table being one of the major reasons I feel that way. He also had such a naturally gifted Michael-Jordan-like-talent for the game, as if it was what he was born to do, that I wonder if he really understood exactly how good he was.

As for the 'most dominant' of all games, I'm not sure Greeny makes the grade.
 

spktur

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Between 1940 and 1957 Mosconi won 15 World Championships. That's 15 in an 18 year period, is that not dominant enough? :wink: An era was named after him. It was during the Mosconi era that pocket billiards overtook 3C as America's billiard game.

They were both great players, but come on. I'll take the guy on the left:





Here's some newsreel footage of the two of them when they gave exhibitions together:

Mosconi and Greenleaf

There is no doubt Willie Mosconi was a truly great pool player but keep in mind at the time he played those world titles were not all based on tournament play. It was common to have a two player challenge match for a title challenge. This happened on a number of occasions with Mosconi. But that uis not to say he wouldn't have won tournaments if they had been played, he was dominant.
 

West Point 1987

On the Hill, Out of Gas
Silver Member
Alfredo De Oro - titles in Pool and Three cushions

Yep...something like 31 national/world titles in everything from 18.2 Balkline, 15 Ball Continuous, 14.1 Straight Pool, 3 Cushion and numerous other games. He beat Welker Cochran at the top of his game when he was in his 70s. His career spanned 1897-1919, so it was a little before the big boom that brought all the legends we usually think of...
 

Rich93

A Small Time Charlie
Silver Member
Between Greenleaf and Mosconi in their respective eras it's pretty close, wouldn't you say?

In Greenleaf's favor you could argue that if he hadn't been such a terrible alcoholic he would have dominated for a longer time. But in Mosconi's favor you could argue that if he hadn't had the stroke at age 43 he wouldn't have retired and would have dominated longer than he did.

In the interviews with Mosconi, Caras and Crane on Freddy The Beard's site, I believe all three were asked the same question: "What player did you fear the most?". If memory serves, Caras answered Greenleaf and Crane answered Mosconi. I think Mosconi also said Greenleaf was the best though his stock answer to that question was that he feared unknowns the most because of a natural tendency to let up on them. In any event Mosconi was generous in his praise of Greenleaf and said he learned a lot just from watching him play.

No one can dominate today the way the old-timers did because rotation games have more of a luck factor and a stupid break factor, and the tournaments are double elimination with lots of players instead of round robin with a few players. But since we're just speculating here - I would say that Efren Reyes would have dominated just like Mosconi and Greenleaf under the older kind of conditions. And for longer too.
 
I'm gonna have to go with Alfredo de Oro. The man's record speaks for itself, and he held multiple world championships in pool AND billiards.
 

hunger strike

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Ursitti's research... look it up!

Charlie's research focuses on statistics, like balls per inning. The point of this is to compare the players based on this. Look at the statistics and make up your mind. I am impressed by DeOro's overall titles. I am impressed by Mosconi's incredible stats. I am impressed by Greenleaf's showmanship. These guys learned from each other as well. Explore Charlie's stats, he spent a good part of a lifetime compiling them, and I helped him to a very small degree. Charlie knew Mosconi well, along with other champions. I believe he knows more about the champions than any other billiard historian.
This research is Charles Ursitti's legacy. If he is not put in the Hall of Fame, then the Hall of Fame will lose some meaning for me. And if you don't use his extensive research that he has posted to the world for free, it would lose some meaning for us all. Thanks, Charlie!
 

book collector

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm gonna have to go with Alfredo de Oro. The man's record speaks for itself, and he held multiple world championships in pool AND billiards.

Something the record books don't tell you is that De Oro never lost many of those championships , whenever he became champion of 3 cushion he was stripped of his pocket billiard title and vice versa. there was a 20 year period when he almost never lost at any game , he even went to England and defeated John Roberts at English Billiards when he was still a great player.
Walter Lindrum was also the most dominant at 1 game , nobody ever came close to playing as good as he did. Tom Reece had a 200,000 point run but it was with the balls jawed in a corner and he just shot caroms back and forth across them for 2 weeks.
There are some videos on You Tube of Walter, he makes it look ridiculously easy.
I did about 20 years worth of research on every player who ever lived and DeOro wins the overall and Lindrum one specific game for me.
If you don't think Greenleaf could play , look at all the tournaments he played in and never missed a called ball the whole tournament!
Do you think they were all hangers?
 
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topcat1953

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Most ..............

I think today's Promoters or organizers or Pros could take a lesson from the way Championships were held years ago. They use to have a World Championship Pool League where all the players would play each other multiple times in numerous cities, with the best record being the Champ. Plus, all those matches were held in poolrooms. Talk about taking the Sport to the public? How much of a success would that be Today?

Let alone having the 16 best players in the World playing round robin once or twice a year to determine who is best. Again, held at a grass roots level of the pool room.

If there would be formats of that kind, we might actually be able to truly have a most dominating player Today.

But, Yawn, same old double elimiation, time after time.
 

flyvirginiaguy

Classic Cue Lover
Silver Member
I think today's Promoters or organizers or Pros could take a lesson from the way Championships were held years ago. They use to have a World Championship Pool League where all the players would play each other multiple times in numerous cities, with the best record being the Champ. Plus, all those matches were held in poolrooms. Talk about taking the Sport to the public? How much of a success would that be Today?

Let alone having the 16 best players in the World playing round robin once or twice a year to determine who is best. Again, held at a grass roots level of the pool room.

If there would be formats of that kind, we might actually be able to truly have a most dominating player Today.

But, Yawn, same old double elimiation, time after time.

Well, one thing is for sure, it is not really working the way it is now. Pool really has not grown much since when I began to play. Actually it seems to have gone down (popularity wise) in the past 10 years. I know this is a nation wide thing, but like the local room I played in, when I was 14-17 it was full of people who played a pretty good speed, and many who were very interested in the game. Now, it is DEAD. Practicing at my local pool room is like practicing in my basement with no one at my house. That is my perception of it. Though the apa helps bring people into the sport a little.

I like your idea though...

BTW, the most dominating depends on what game is played. 14.1 though my money would have been on Mosconi.
 
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Bobby

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In pool alone I'd have to go with Mosconi or Greenleaf, too close to call really but I think they're the only two really in the picture.

All cue games considered though, Walter Lindrum is the most dominant and by a large margin.
His autobiography by Andrew Rickett is a must read. It talks about his upbringing and how his father taught him to play and how diligent he was at such a young age. Basically Lindrum dominated to such a degree that he killed the sport. Joe Davis his main rival (if you can even call it a rivalry) popularized snooker and became champion at that because he knew he didn't have a prayer of ever winning a billiards title against Lindrum and he knew Lindrum would never have played snooker because he considered it far inferior a game compared to billiards. Davis was said something like "thank god Walter never took up snooker all we'd all be done".

Lindrum was so much better than the next best players that in exhibitions which took about 2 weeks to play, his opponents needed a 7,000 point spot and they usually still lost!

To put things into perspective, The highest any player besides Lindrum ever ran was 2,800.....Lindrum's high run was over 4,000 points.
Only a few players ever had a 2000 break (run)...(Davis never did) and the ones that did only did it once or maybe twice. Lindrum had over 40 runs of 2000 or more!

Lindrum was very firm in saying that it's what you put into the game that makes a champion, as opposed to natural talent. He always insisted that he was the best simply because he practiced way longer and harder than his competition. starting at a young age practiced at least 10 hours a day every day, sometimes 14 hours a day and he kept this up even after he was champion. If he missed a shot in competition he would practice it for 8 straight hours.

When asked if he thought anyone would ever reach his skill he said "no, because I really don't think anyone will put in the amount of practice that I have".

By the way, he played left-handed but was naturally righty.
 
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