Ralph Greenleaf - One of the greatest to play the game

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
Silver Member
I'm old enough to have known many of the old time players who competed against both Greenleaf and Mosconi. To a man they ALL said Greenleaf was the better player.
Charlie Ursitti, who kept, by far. the best records of anyone during the straight pool era, once gave me an interesting insight. He told me that, statistically speaking, Mosocni ran a game out on the first inning more often than Greenleaf, but added that, statistically speaking, Greenleaf won games in two innings or less more often than Mosconi. I've also met several who competed against both, and they were split over who was the greater of the two. The legend Irving Crane, a contemporary of both, was measurably behind them, and with no disrespect to Sigel and Mizerak, I don't see how they can possibly be considered to be on the same level as Mosconi and Greenleaf, the two most dominant players pool has ever seen.

It's a debate for the ages, but as we know, Willie thought the world of Greenleaf's game.
 

Nikrnic

Member
That was a good book with some very good pool history crammed into 106 pages, well worth the read. I doubt anyone could beat him when he was on a roll. He was one of the greatest.
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michael4

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Charlie Ursitti, who kept, by far. the best records of anyone during the straight pool era, once gave me an interesting insight. He told me that, statistically speaking, Mosocni ran a game out on the first inning more often than Greenleaf, but added that, statistically speaking, Greenleaf won games in two innings or less more often than Mosconi. I've also met several who competed against both, and they were split over who was the greater of the two. The legend Irving Crane, a contemporary of both, was measurably behind them, and with no disrespect to Sigel and Mizerak, I don't see how they can possibly be considered to be on the same level as Mosconi and Greenleaf, the two most dominant players pool has ever seen.

It's a debate for the ages, but as we know, Willie thought the world of Greenleaf's game.
Another debate is determining what the term "better" means. You have given some examples, but there is also the player who may be less consistent, but has the higher gear. I think Keith is maybe one example of this, and also Greenleaf appears to have had the higher gear (over Willie).
 
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kling&allen

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
The historical record isn't entirely clear on Greenleaf's top exhibition run. In 1923, he ran 265 in Stockton, CA on what would have been a 10-foot table:

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In its 1950 obituary, a Brooklyn newspaper said he ran 290 in 1935 in Norfolk, VA. But I didn't find any reported evidence of that claim (by Ralph or anyone else) and Ralph was not shooting good pool in 1935. When asked about high runs, Ralph would talk about his 126-and-out run against the Snail in world championship play and never exhibition runs.

Like most professionals over the years including Mosconi, Ralph usually stopped his runs once he secured victory. Here's an example from 1926:

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kling&allen

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Here's the list of records from Willie's 1958 "Pocket Billiards" book. Note how Mosconi (or his editor) breaks out 5x10 stats separately but somehow got the 526 wrong:

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Rocket354

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here's the list of records from Willie's 1958 "Pocket Billiards" book. Note how Mosconi (or his editor) breaks out 5x10 stats separately but somehow got the 526 wrong:

View attachment 598870
Lots of 127's nearby, I can see how 526 became 527.

That said, I have little faith in lots of these numbers. In baseball, for which records have been kept fastidiously for well over a century, and which is played in front of thousands (and tens of thousands) of fans, there's still mistakes. Ty Cobb held the all-time hit record for decades at 4192 (since eclipsed). Except it wasn't really 4192, but within the last 20-25 years or so there was a recount of old newspaper records and his total is now 4189. Ted Williams held the single-season on-base percentage record at .551 for many decades (also, since-eclipsed). Well, it's now .553.

If a sport with as many spectators, and as many news accounts, and as many diehard fans calculating things to the nth degree can have mistakes in some of its most prestigious records, what chance does pool have? Doesn't mean I necessarily doubt the "general area" of the numbers, but arguing 290 vs 265 or anything else is likely not really worth it--neither one might be accurate!
 

Rocket354

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
More on-topic, I'm reading the Greenleaf book and it's a quick, enjoyable read. Very much worth the 0.99 for the kindle version!
 
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