I asked the Norfolk Public Library to help and they were amazingly
helpful. Here is an article about an earlier tournament -- The U.S. Nine Ball Classic -- at an earlier poolroom -- Paddle and Cue -- that I'm pretty sure was the grandfather of the current Q-Masters.
From the October 16th 1974 issue of the Ledger-Star (which seems to have stopped publishing in 1995):
Shootout at the OK poolroom
By GREG GLASSNER
NORFOLK - When the big guns of the green felt and numbered sphere set gather, there's an aura of Dodge City. There is always a "new kid" who wants a shot at beating the top man — or the man who was. A pool hall hosting a big money tournament carries with it some of the drama and tautness of a Western gunfight. Luther "Wimpy" Lassiter, once the "Elizabeth City Kid", still commands the respect and envy of young challengers. When the weapons are cues and the rules Nine Ball, the young men on the way up are usually nipped in the bud — at least temporarily.
Such was the case in the opening rounds of the United States Nine Ball Classic at the Paddle and Cue on Sewells Point Road. "If it's like a gunfight, then I've lost all my bullets," quipped the 54-year-old, seven-time world's champion. No longer a highly-rated player on the national level, Lassiter has joined Willie Mosconi and Jackie Gleason's "Hustler" as familiar figures in posters that stare down at the tables from pod parlor walls.
Despite Lassiter's legend-in-his-time status, he had no difficulty besting one of the Norfolk's top "local players" Monday night, unerringly dropping the money ball on tricky combinations. "He's young and I'm old. I'd have hated for him to win," Lassiter confided after the one-sided match. Although Mike Segal and Richie Florence — both in the top five nationally — were battling it out on the center table, most eyes were on Lassiter. Knowing smiles and open murmurs of admiration greeted the master's moves.
The Paddle and Cue qualifies as a serious billiards establishment - as opposed to the metal flake and Muzak amusement centers found in some cities - but it is a brightly-lit, well-ventilated far-cry from the dens of iniquity mothers still fear. Norfolk, 1974, with its thorny garland of laws and vigilant alphabet agencies, is not the free-swinging boom town that Lassiter came to as a sharp-shooting 15-year-old ready to hustle the hustlers. An 18 and above law retards future generations of pool players. "The greatest 'action' there's ever been in the history of the game was here in the '40s. Everybody that was playing for money came to Norfolk and Virginia Beach," Lassiter said, a faint smile on his lined face. For those who can be a bit nostalgic about the dingy and illegal — who can't? — the 'game' has lost some of its color.
A billiard ambassador with a gentle way and fatherly thatch of white hair, Lassiter sees a new future for pool. "Pool beats all sports for television potential. How much of the action in a golf match do you see on TV? With four cameras and a fifth overhead, you can't miss a thing that goes on at a table." Consummate skill, win-or-lose drama, and colorful motion are assets that might attract television. But one hopes the clinical sterility of a studio is at least spiced up with a few spittoons, a "No profanity, please" sign and a few pool hall characters.
The U.S. Nine Ball Classic continues nightly with semi-finals and finals Saturday. The top eight finishers share a $5,000 purse. In tonight's matches, Lassiter takes on Joe Nemi of Norfolk. Both players are undefeated in the tourney. Jim Rempe plays Mike Segal, Florence plays Charlie Jones and Tom Syr faces Billy Cabalaro.
Nemi beat Ray Trivette Tuesday night. Rempe downed Terry Hubbard, Syr defeated Cisero Murphy and Dave White beat Red Hicks.
View attachment 612899
There's life in the old champ
''Wimpy" Lassiter outsticks a young challenger
Photo by Mike Williams