Tell me about Jay Swanson

Matt_24

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I don't know much about Jay Swanson other than they have a memorial tournament. I do know he was a great 9 ball player, and apparently took Johnny Archer on the road back in the day. I'd love to learn more.
 

Blackjack

Illuminati Blacksmack
Silver Member
Matt_24 said:
I don't know much about Jay Swanson other than they have a memorial tournament. I do know he was a great 9 ball player, and apparently took Johnny Archer on the road back in the day. I'd love to learn more.

I believe that Swannee was originally from the Northwest. He worked as a tree cutter ( I believe) and started playing pool in the bars when he went out with his coworkers. That's the story I heard, if its wrong - someone correct me.

He was a s big as a bear but one of the nicest people with the friendliest of smiles. One of the thrills I had as a young man was playing race to 9 for $100 against Swannee on a bar box in Vegas. I only played him because I wanted to be able to go home and say that I did. I stayed with him for the first part of the set until he crushed me with a 5 pack - he was absolutely incredible. Afterwards he bought my friend and I lunch in the Casino.

After that he always said hello when he saw me - as if we were long lost friends. He was like that with everybody. Just a real warm, down to earth person.

He was a good guy and he left us way too soon.
 

8ballEinstein

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Jay "Swanee" Swanson is surely the best pool player ever to come out of San Diego. There are several things people will always remember about him - he had one of the smoothest strokes in the game (would make your mouth water), he had incredible cue ball control using what looked like very little effort, he played world class pool and he was a gentle giant.

He developed his game at San Diego's College Billiards, where many good players hung out, including Roy Stanzionne, Billy Graves, Max Olds, Shaun Murphy, Mondo Gomez, Rick Lingley, Dave Sparks and many, many more.
 

daniel

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I ran into Jay several times when he was running with "Beachboy Bob Taylor". He stayed around Myrtle beach for quite awhile. Really nice fella & a great player & low key hustler.
 

stikapos

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
When I went to the US Open in the early ninties, one of the first things that I looked forward to was seeing Swanee. He had a hand that would envelope yours when shaking it and a smile that burned whatever was wrong in your life right off of your face. I really miss him.

tim
 

Big C

Deep in the heart of TX.
Silver Member
College Billiards

8ballEinstein said:
Jay "Swanee" Swanson is surely the best pool player ever to come out of San Diego. There are several things people will always remember about him - he had one of the smoothest strokes in the game (would make your mouth water), he had incredible cue ball control using what looked like very little effort, he played world class pool and he was a gentle giant.

He developed his game at San Diego's College Billiards, where many good players hung out, including Roy Stanzionne, Billy Graves, Max Olds, Shaun Murphy, Mondo Gomez, Rick Lingley, Dave Sparks and many, many more.
I used to play there a lot back in 90-93. I know all those players you mentioned. Do you remember Linda, Terry, Kris and Elizabeth? They worked there and ran the place for the owner John Pinto. I haven't been back to San Diego since I left in 93 and I sure do miss it there. Swanee was great. I would watch him practice during the day and I never saw anyone woof at him. I've heard that Roy at one time could play with anybody, but lost his game to drugs. Billy Graves was a monster player, but couldn't stay out of jail.
 

8ballEinstein

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Big C said:
I used to play there a lot back in 90-93. I know all those players you mentioned. Do you remember Linda, Terry, Kris and Elizabeth? They worked there and ran the place for the owner John Pinto. I haven't been back to San Diego since I left in 93 and I sure do miss it there. Swanee was great. I would watch him practice during the day and I never saw anyone woof at him. I've heard that Roy at one time could play with anybody, but lost his game to drugs. Billy Graves was a monster player, but couldn't stay out of jail.
Big C, of the gals you list, I only remember Linda and Kris. I didn't come on the scene over there until 1996. Prior to that, I only played an occasional tournament at College.

Nowadays, hardly any of the top players play there any more. After Mark Griffin (the owner after John Pinto) sold out, the place started going down hill. It was sad because College Billiards has always been the best place to go since 1962. All is not lost though. The latest owner has improved the room some but at this point, he has attracted mostly the 3-Cushion crowd.
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
Swanee was one of the best BIG money 9-Ball players who ever lived. He could really swing it for big dough. He did good in tournaments also, but playing high was really his thing. He just didn't get nervous or bothered no matter what the bet. In fact he played better the higher the number. Give you an idea, he played several times $1,000 a game 9-Ball in the 80's! And made big scores every time.

He was the guy who got called to fly in when someone was betting real high anywhere in the country. They would fly Swanee in to take him off, and he always did. I know many may not like to hear this, but Sigel and most of the East Coast crowd wanted nothing to do with Mr. Swanson. Only guys like Buddy, Parica and Keith were in his league when it came to gambling.

Swanee was Johnny's mentor in the pool world. And he did a good job too. Look how Johnny turned out.
Like Freddie likes to say, I don't regret for a minute the memorable people I met thru pool. Swanee was another unique human being. A big teddy bear off the table, and a stone cold killer on it. ALL the road men just avoided San Diego because they knew Swanee was waiting there. That's how it was for a good 15 years.

I never heard of Parica going down there, but I will ask him if he ever played Swanee. Most everyone that knew him just left him alone. I'll give you an idea of how he was respected by his peers. Mataya was a great money player who would woof at anyone to play. But if Swanee was around he was quiet as a mouse. :)
 
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Terry Ardeno

I still love my wife
Silver Member
Matt_24 said:
I don't know much about Jay Swanson other than they have a memorial tournament. I do know he was a great 9 ball player, and apparently took Johnny Archer on the road back in the day. I'd love to learn more.

Matt,
Here's some of the info I have on him.
He was born on Nov 18, 1943 and was basically a road player, with his home base around San Diego, although he was born in Chula Vista, Cal.
After high school, he worked briefly for the Forest Service in No-Cal before going on the road basically full time. As already mentioned in this thread, he met Johnny Archer in the 1980's on one of his road trips thru the south and they hit it off immediately and became best of friends. Jay ended up making regular trips to Georgia to stay with Johnny's family when he was still playing on the road.

In 1979, Jay took 3rd place in the World Pro-Am at the Tropicana Hotel in Vegas. That started his tournament playing career. He had some nice finishes in regional tournaments and had won the Arizona State 9 Ball Championship in Phoenix in 1983. In 1984, he had his best finish and biggest win in taking 1st place at the Resorts 9 Ball Open in Atlantic City.

He had lots of nick-names or aliases...."Smokey", "Jaybird", "The Whale" (he weighed over 300 lbs), and "Swanny" (a nickname he earned while dominating ping pong in and around Chula Vista in the early 1960's. One of his hobbies was driving around in a 1957 Chevy, I don't know which model, that he had "souped" up and he enjoyed "racing it", but not on any track...

He started playing pool on the bar boxes but by 1970, he switched to playing a lot more on the big tables until he became equally proficient on those as he had the 7 ft tables.

As for his style of play, he was known as a good positional player and for as big as he was, had a real pretty stroke, although I personally have never seen him shoot, in person or on film. This is what others had said about him.

He died on June 24, 1996 of a heart attack at the age of 52.
 

avmaster

Man of Reason
Silver Member
Terry Ardeno said:
Matt,
Here's some of the info I have on him.
He was born on Nov 18, 1943 and was basically a road player, with his home base around San Diego, although he was born in Chula Vista, Cal.
After high school, he worked briefly for the Forest Service in No-Cal before going on the road basically full time. As already mentioned in this thread, he met Johnny Archer in the 1980's on one of his road trips thru the south and they hit it off immediately and became best of friends. Jay ended up making regular trips to Georgia to stay with Johnny's family when he was still playing on the road.

In 1979, Jay took 3rd place in the World Pro-Am at the Tropicana Hotel in Vegas. That started his tournament playing career. He had some nice finishes in regional tournaments and had won the Arizona State 9 Ball Championship in Phoenix in 1983. In 1984, he had his best finish and biggest win in taking 1st place at the Resorts 9 Ball Open in Atlantic City.

He had lots of nick-names or aliases...."Smokey", "Jaybird", "The Whale" (he weighed over 300 lbs), and "Swanny" (a nickname he earned while dominating ping pong in and around Chula Vista in the early 1960's. One of his hobbies was driving around in a 1957 Chevy, I don't know which model, that he had "souped" up and he enjoyed "racing it", but not on any track...

He started playing pool on the bar boxes but by 1970, he switched to playing a lot more on the big tables until he became equally proficient on those as he had the 7 ft tables.

As for his style of play, he was known as a good positional player and for as big as he was, had a real pretty stroke, although I personally have never seen him shoot, in person or on film. This is what others had said about him.

He died on June 24, 1996 of a heart attack at the age of 52.

I played this guy once in San Diego in the 60's and he cleaned my clock in the Famous Door bar in downtown SD on 5th street. He was supremely confident and made me look like a smuck on the table.
 

8ballEinstein

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
jay helfert said:
Mataya was a great money player who would woof at anyone to play. But if Swanee was around he was quiet as a mouse. :)

Funny, Jay, but I'm sure it's true!

I used to frequent a pool bar in south Orange County and we had this new guy named Joe from Philadelphia who started coming in regularly. Ever since he came on the scene, he pretty much ruled the roost playing pool at that bar.

One day a friend walks in to see Joe playing Jay Swanson. The friend realizes Joe doesn't know Jay and so he decides he's going to queer the game. He walks up to Joe and says, "You know who this guy is, don't you?"
Confidently, Joe just says, "I don't care. I just ran a 5-pack on him to start this set and there ain't no stopping me tonight!! You watch." The friend backed off and watched as Swanee came back real strong and crush ole Joe something fierce.

The next day Joe's friend came in with the latest copy of Billiards Digest and on the cover was Swanee and Efren, the top two finishers at the recent Sands Reno event. Joe saw this and said, "Hey! He said his name was John!! He lied to me!!!" The whole bar was busting up, laughing like crazy.
 

hilla_hilla

I'd rather be foosing it!
Silver Member
I started playing pool after Swannee passed away and never got to meet him nor got to see him play. A few years ago during one of the Swannee tournaments I did and article about the tournament and bits and pieces of Swannee for Inside Pool. I'll have to look around and see if I can find a copy somewhere.

One of the things that I remembered that people told me was about how nice he always was, that he was a fire fighter at one point in time and that he used to be able to kick his leg up over his head for the cash (being that he was such a big guy).
 

DTL

SP 219
Silver Member
Jay was in the Kentucky area hustling in the late 70's. I was attending Western Ky University at that time and got to play him a few times.....he was living with Jimmy Hodges who had just opened up a new poolroom (Cuetime) in Bowling Green. I didn't know it at the time but I had no shot at winning even with the weight I was getting. He was a gentle giant and did have that smooth stoke everyone has been talking about. I was in San Diego attending PA school when he died.....had a heart attack at a Denny's Restuarant I believe.
 

Jerry OC

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I never really knew Jay, but they had a tournament back in the early 80's at Bob's Billiards on Beach & Ball in Anaheim.

Jay was late for a match and nobody could find him, so Keith McCready walked out the front door to go look for Jay and a couple of us followed him out the door.

Jay comes lumbering across the street and Keith was yelling, hey Jay you're going to forfeit your match if you don't get in here now, where have you been, we've been looking for you for 15 minutes?

Jay had this big smile on his face and said, "come on keith I just went across the street to get something to eat, how long do you think it takes me to eat 6 tacos," everyone just started laughing.
 

sharpshooter

Registered
Does anyone have recollections of any big money matches that Swanee participated in San Diego. Louis Ulrich in his forum mentioned that many of the top filipinos passed thru San Diego along with many other great champions. Did Efren, Parica or any other top notch players match up with Swanee and how did it turn out?
 

8ballEinstein

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
sharpshooter said:
Does anyone have recollections of any big money matches that Swanee participated in San Diego. Louis Ulrich in his forum mentioned that many of the top filipinos passed thru San Diego along with many other great champions. Did Efren, Parica or any other top notch players match up with Swanee and how did it turn out?

When Warren Kiamco was staying in San Diego, I understand he topped Swanee, giving up a small spot (this would've been the only time I've heard of Jay getting any weight). In all fairness, I don't believe Swanee was playing very much at the time.
 

JG-in-KY

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Just going through some old magazines, listing them on Ebay when I ran across this Mini-Bio in Billiards Digest. Dated April 1988. Just sold a Billiards Digest from 1984 that had a great article about Jay. I remember he said his favorite spot in the world was a lifeguard tower at Torrey Pines(?). The magazine 8Ball Einstein mentioned was probably this National Billiard News.
 

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8ballEinstein

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
JG-in-KY said:
Just going through some old magazines, listing them on Ebay when I ran across this Mini-Bio in Billiards Digest. Dated April 1988. Just sold a Billiards Digest from 1984 that had a great article about Jay. I remember he said his favorite spot in the world was a lifeguard tower at Torrey Pines(?). The magazine 8Ball Einstein mentioned was probably this National Billiard News.

Thank you, JG. It looks like you're right!

I understand Jay enjoyed bodysurfing at Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve. It's a very nice and tranquil place to be (unless it's a sunny summer weekend, then forget it!!!).
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
8ballEinstein said:
Thank you, JG. It looks like you're right!

I understand Jay enjoyed bodysurfing at Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve. It's a very nice and tranquil place to be (unless it's a sunny summer weekend, then forget it!!!).

I'm headed that way Saturday for the U.S. Open Golf Tourney. Watch a little golf and play pool at Mikies fun house, overlooking the ocean in Del Mar.
 
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