AzB Silver Member
Most are fleeting. Many will linger. Very few are ingrained.
On a recent whim, I tried something to test impressions. And what triggers them.
I uncased the following ball set from my Brewery & Spirits section and placed them on the pool table in front of 4 other fellows before starting play for a few hours:
They walked closer, and I asked: “So tell me, boys, what comes to mind when you see this ball set?”
The answers in no particular order...
* some TV commercials way back when - which immediately followed with...
* Steve Mizerak!
I followed that exclamation by asking the gents to tell me what they remember or know about The Miz. Remarkably, they ALL recalled with fanatical detail where they were, what they were doing and whom they were with when they saw the TV commercial that made Steve Mizerak famous - along with the obligatory “how much better” they all played pool back then as well. Uh huh. Didn’t we all.
On the surface, things typically look one way - but delve a little deeper and the cool and fascinating details begin to emerge.
The details making impressions.
In 1975, Miller Lite changed the way the world thought about beer. And who better to showcase such bravado than one of the most incredible pool players to grace our presence in that era - to be seen in pool-playing bars around the world - but Steve Mizerak - The man from NJ that started shooting pool at 4 years old who grew up and eventually taught school to make a living - and who was also a world champion that very few knew about. The Miz would quite literally become a household name in a mere 29 seconds “just showing off”.
I rattled off a few tidbits about the great Steve Mizerak to do a bit of showing off of my own while I had the floor for a minute or two:
* started playing exhibitions at 6
* he could run 50 balls at age 11 and over 100 by 13
* he turned pro at 13. Yes, you read that right - 13
* his 30+ major tournament victories spanned nearly 30 years
* he won the U.S. OPEN 14.1 Pocket Billiards Championship an unprecedented 4 years straight starting at age 26, besting a few guys in the finals you may have heard about: Lassiter, Balsis and DeLiberto
* he was the youngest person ever inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in 1980
* he was inducted into the 14.1 Hall Of Fame in 2017
* he said they shot that one scene 191 times because the damn thing was always out of focus or someone sneezed. A door slammed. A light flickered. Always something - taking nearly 9 hours to film it. The best part: he says he never missed the shot.
* overall, revered by all peers as a pure class act and gentleman. A role model if there ever was one.
The pool room stayed mouse-quiet for what seemed like minutes. My four pals were in awe I think of what they didn’t know about Steve Mizerak just moments earlier. I’ve been in awe of the man for decades since meeting him in person back in Las Vegas as a youngster in my early 20’s. Those memories even spawned the idea to have his 11 or so books in a special Mizerak section in my library. Take one home if you like for a fun read. And a few lessons.
Most guys don’t notice the Mizerak books amongst the 450+ selections in my cue sports library or remember the commercials or his VHS tapes - but one thing I do know that they’ll never forget is this Miller Lite ball set and the games we played that day. New memories forged to go with those early first impressions.
For fun, do some quick www searching for things on The Miz and see if he won’t inspire you just a little bit.
Excellent write up and interesting tidbits about The Miz. Interesting personal fact; he and I share the same birthplace: Perth Amboy, NJ.