Willie Mosconi would have turned 100 today. Do you have any stories?


Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Only saw Mosconi play once and it was at Julians on 14th Street in Manhattan.

Saw him again at the 1992 US Open 14.1 event at the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC and got to chat with him only briefly. Both Willie and Jimmy Caras were there, sitting together in the crowd, the evening Sigel hit Zuglan with his famous 150 and out. I recall thinking I should get a picture with them but I never got around to it. Figured I might have the same opportunity during the 1993 US Open 14.1 event, but, alas, Willie died just before the 1993 event came around. A great photo opportunity missed.


Silver Member
To Lou Figueroa--

Yes, the angles of Mosconi's breakshots were usually VERY uncomfortable.

I always found this very interesting. As far as I know based on everything I've read and all the modern day straight pool I've watched that even the best straight pool players of today (and the last 20 or 30 years) never or rarely opt to shoot breakshots with as much angle as Mosconi did on the reg. It really speaks to Mosconi's unbelievable confidence in himself and his abilities. Absolutely no sweat barely slicing in a back cut and smashing the stack and running 150. They wouldn't have called it that back then, but that's having swag.


O8 Specialist
Silver Member
Saw a buddy post this picture on FB and thought it was pretty cool.


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Pool and Snooker Railbird
Silver Member
I first met Mosconi in 1964 at Mr. & Mrs. Cueball in Greensboro, NC. This was in Lawndale shopping center and the building is now an Italian restaurant and pizza place. This was one of the Brunswick "family" rooms and all of the Gold Crowns were covered with different colored cloths. There was also one snooker table and a carom table, but they were removed within a couple of years. The place was owned my Mr. and Mrs. (Speed and Helen) Gurfein and they were always kind and pleasant to their clientele. The room closed when one of them fell gravely ill if I recall correctly.

Willie came in to do the "Official Grand Opening" several months after the room had actually opened. There was a crowd of maybe thirty people standing around watching him. Willie was sharply dressed and gave a running commentary as he would break racks and run the tables. When he began talking about position play he started laying his cue tip on the table where he wanted the cue ball to go. Time after time whitey would come to rest on the place where Willie had pointed his tip. He was relaxed and having a good time and his stroke was simple and pure.

Lots of his competitors had negative things to say about Mosconi. That he was self-centered, selfish, and critical of others to a fault. But the thing that always impressed me about the man was that he was constantly aware that he represented the game to the public. He always dressed well, was polite to fans, and was quick to smile. He also knew when to play the foil to Minnesota Fats humor. His match with Fats where he played with napkins in his ears to avoid hearing the Fat Man showed that he could step out of character when the situation required.

I am often asked if Mosconi could 'hang' with the players of today and I find it a question that cannot be answered accurately. It is just something you guess on. Mosconi played on entirely different equipment. Hairy, slow cloth that required a 21 ounce cuestick. And he focused on 14.1, not the rotation games of today. But, and this is only an opinion, Mosconi was a child prodigy in his day and most likely would have been today had he been born into today's scene. Had he grown up on today's equipment he would have been (my opinion) a Master of the game.

Would he have been as dominant today as he was then? Impossible to answer. Players at the top these days do not seem to stay there for as long as players did in the first half of the last century. But, like Reyes, Archer, SVB and a few others today, he would have certainly been one of those who can quiet a room with a glance. Like them, his presence commanded respect.

Mosconi was never afraid of voicing his opinions. During a tournament in Chicago in the 60's he was asked if he would be going down to the Johnston City Jamboree. I do not have the exact quote but he answered that he would not honor 'those hustlers" with his presence. He felt that whole scene was bad for the game and he always felt compelled to present billiards as a classy activity. Fats often responded that Willie was trying to put whipped cream on a hot dog.

Love, love, love this story. GREAT read, Jerry! :)

Chip Roberson

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In the write up on the opening page of the forum it states the He had a stroke in the late 50's and that was the reason for slowing back--I thought he was in a terrible car wreck and broke his sholder up something feirce. From what I had remembered it was so bad that he had the Doctors set it in a way that he could aleast still play the game.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Willie was doing an exhibition in Tempe AZ at what was billed as "All Around Tavern Billiards National Championship" during the month of October 1986 the same weekend that The Color of Money was released. Keith McCready played in and won the tournament. I was fortunate enough to get to play a game with Willie who promptly showed me what the game was all about. He was very gracious with his comments and encouragement about improving my game.

Later as he was doing a trick shot demonstration he was having quite a bit of trouble setting up a shot because his hands were shaking so much. To my disbelief several of the spectators started booing him. It was a shock to see the ugly side of pool show such disrespect for a living legend. I felt honored just to be in the same room wit him.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
For Lou Figueroa

It's hard to commit a crime that is truly original. In 1965 I saw Mosconi play an exhibition match. After the match the proprietor came up to Mosconi and apologized that someone seemed to have stolen the cue ball. Mosconi just said, "That's all right. I happens all the time."

He must have had a box of those blue circles in the trunk of his car.

Yes, I've heard that too. You just wanted to grab it, chop it in half, and figure out how he did what he did.

Lou Figueroa


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
To Lou Figueroa--

Yes, the angles of Mosconi's breakshots were usually VERY uncomfortable.

He really liked a steep angle. But, he would always end up so close and perfect with his CB that, maybe, they weren't so tough.

Lou Figueroa


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It all makes sense now.

You are possessed. Only way to reverse the curse is to put it back.

I guess this is as good an occasion as any to repost this:

Mosconi's Cue Ball

Yes, I can remember it as if it were yesterday (insert flashback music).

I think I got interested in pool right around 1968 or '69. A friend and I went to a bowling alley with his dad and mom one weekend and while they bowled, we discovered the pool room that was part of the bowling alley. My family lived in San Francisco, down by the Cow Palace, and bowling alleys with pool rooms in them were a pretty common setup back then, around there. In fact, just a short walk away from our house was Castle Lanes, where, very early on in life, I learned courtesy of a summer bowling league, that I had absolutely no talent for that game.

But occasionally I'd wander into the pool room there. It had perhaps nine or so old Brunswicks and I'd watch all these old guys bat the balls around. They seemed to favor some odd game where it only mattered if you made a ball in one particular pocket, or perhaps the other. I wouldn't decipher what they doing until much later on in life... Not long after my buddy and I became proud owners of our very own personal pool cues, I learned that Willie Mosconi would be making his annual appearance at Castle Lanes. This was huge. I had watched "The Hustler" several times by now and knew the lore.

So the day of the exhibition, I get out of school early and zoom down to Castle Lanes to get a front row seat. They had recovered the front table and all the old guys already had their favored perches secured. Nonetheless, I squeezed in. Then "he" walked into the pool room. Mosconi was always nattily dressed in sports coat and tie. He'd come into the room with a box of balls and a luggage-style cue case. His hair was pure white and he always had this very elegant, tailored look about him. To warm up, he'd rack all fifteen balls, separate the head ball and set up a break shot off to the left of the rack. The break shots he seemed to favor were always a little steeper than I would have thought comfortable, but they certainly didn't slow him up.

He'd run off two racks and then be done, ready to play his opponent, 150 points of 14.1. Depending on whom he was playing, he'd often kick into the back of the stack and play the head ball two rails into the side, just to give his opponent the chance at a running start. He'd always run at least a 100 and I saw him go 150 and out twice. If he had missed somewhere along the way and got out running a 50, or something like that, he'd turn to the crowd and ask, "Would you like to see a 100 ball run?" And we'd all go, "Well, yes." And he'd keep shooting and always get the 100. Then he'd shoot some trick shots, including some pretty nifty masses, and then hang around and talk and sign autographs. (It's the only autograph I have ever asked for in my life.)

Perhaps the last time I saw him was towards the late 70s, like maybe 1976, at an appearance in downtown San Francisco at a walk-up bowling alley named, appropriately enough, Downtown Bowl. He did the usual exhibition that I had seen several times before and it was still fascinating. Particularly, as I've mentioned before, because of the way his cue ball behaved. It was extraordinary how it would muscle into the balls and keep diving into them again and again until it had plowed through them all and come out the other side of the cluster or stack, totally unscathed.

So after his exhibition he's standing around, leaning against the table and talking to all the old timers and they're asking all the usual, "Did you ever play...?" "What'd you think of so and so's game?" and I'm trying to get closer to listen in on all this and I'm right by the side pocket of the table he's just finished his exhibition on and I look down and there it is.

Right there, at the bottom of the side pocket, is Mosconi's Cue Ball.

The blue circle on it is staring right back up at me and somehow, it was challenging me. Everyone is focused on Mosconi. No one is looking at me. I stare back into the abyss and realize I have but one moment to make a critical, and yes, criminal, decision. I look down into the pocket and I swear, Mosconi's Cue Ball is virtually howling with laughter at me. I quickly seize the little sucker, muffling it as best I can, stuff it into the pocket of my coat, and dash down the stairs of the establishment scared to death that if Mosconi discovers His Cue Ball is missing, they'll lock down the whole bowling alley -- and perhaps even cordon off the entire downtown district -- until they find the missing orb.

Now, some 30 years later, I still feel bad about the larceny I committed in my callow youth. But it's done and I can't undo it and so Mosconi's Cue Ball now sits, somewhat more meekly and quietly, on my bookshelf of pool books. But I think it still knows it's Mosconi's Cue Ball and now, just every once in a while when I'm sitting at the computer writing about the trials and tribulations of my pool game, I occasionally hear a tiny little giggle coming from behind my back, from somewhere on my book case.

Lou Figueroa


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
He did an exhibition in early 80's at a local supply store. He got out of the cab, took off his coat, racked 14 with a break ball and casually ran a hundred. AMAZING. All of us watching were in a trance. His stroke was just unreal.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I saw the news article on the Main Page. I met Willie Mosconi when he was making the rounds doing his show. He came to a pool room in Rockville, MD called "Let's Play Games." That was *the* pool hangout back in the day.

He was all dressed up in his suit. I remember my father, who was similar in age to Willie Mosconi, never left the house without a suit on. I guess that mode of dress was traditional to their era. My dad never went out in public with a T-shirt on or jeans.

Willie set up a trick shot and asked if anybody wanted to shoot it from the audience. My friends pushed me in the foreground, and Willie came over to me. I was so nervous. I felt my face get red. Willie actually let me shoot the shot with his cue, which made me even more nervous. Needless to say, I made six balls in the pocket with one shot. :grin-square: :thumbup:

Of course, I got his black-and-white autographed picture. I still have it in my pool room in the basement. It was the one that most people have .

One thing I noticed in the article was his date of death as September 17th. I remember there was a discrepancy about that at one time. Some thought it was September 12th. The reason why I remember these two dates vividly with Willie is that his birthday is my mother's birthday and his date of death, when it was September 12th, was my daughter's birthday, which is kind of ironic.:p

After reading the article on the Main Page, I can't wait to see what the 20th anniversarty of Mosconi Cup is going to be all about. Exciting! :)

If I leave the house in a suit I'm probably going to a funeral or a wedding.

I do have one habit I inherited from decades ago. I rarely leave the house without a hat.


AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
At the 1992 us open straight pool tournament in NYC I caught Willie leaving in the lobby with another gentleman. He was kind of there all week although he did not play. I asked if I could get his autograph and the guy with him said no. Willie said come on over and signed the cover
of my program. It may have been one of his last that he gave but I was impressed
that he did it. It was the last day and he looked really tired. I have it framed, Cicero Murphey also signed that cover
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AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In 1964 Willie came to a new room in Toms River N.J. to give an exhibition and play some local stiff.
I was the stiff.
He gave a world class performance running 85 and out on me.
I gave a world class performance holding a cue and racking.
We both did good.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
my first contact with Willie came at the "village apartments ,golf course etc

Willie was going to put on an exhibition,his people set up a Brunswick table and the room filled with over 300 people,each paying $5 or so,in 1970 that was about $40 in todays buying power

willie broke,the opponent returned an excellent safe,Willie returned the safe,the guy missed and Willie ran 125 or 150 not missing a single shot

After this he inter acted with the crowd,the crowd replied mannerly,clapping and smiling

Next time I saw Willie he was in Ft worth ,Texas at a big billiards expo,he signed and
gave away autographed pictures that he personalized to any and everyone.

He had time on his hands so we spoke foer a while,he offered to sign more pictures and make them out to others,but I didn't want to impose.

As we talked about other things he offered to sell his Balabushka to me for $3000, I replied that
no pool cue was worth $3000,he agreed. Later it sold for $100,000

As you can see I never was too sharp

The last time I saw him ,he and Jimmy Caras and their wifes were at CYs pool room,
both players were very pleasant company and signed several racks of pool balls for me to give my friends and a few pictures,

They described their rivalry and friendship

When i consider the average pool championship seldom has a hundred fans,i am reminded how much more fun it was to watch Willie Mosconi, I will probably always remember him as the champion

Sadly most of my experience was winning money on the pool table,it does seem less glamorous as
the days go by while my appreciation or admiration for Willie Mosconi has grown

It grieves me to hear his name reproachfully used,I think he was really a hero


Short Bus Russ - C Player
Silver Member
I guess this is as good an occasion as any to repost this:

Mosconi's Cue Ball


Now, some 30 years later, I still feel bad about the larceny I committed in my callow youth. But it's done and I can't undo it and so Mosconi's Cue Ball now sits, somewhat more meekly and quietly, on my bookshelf of pool books. But I think it still knows it's Mosconi's Cue Ball and now, just every once in a while when I'm sitting at the computer writing about the trials and tribulations of my pool game, I occasionally hear a tiny little giggle coming from behind my back, from somewhere on my book case.

Lou Figueroa

Fantastic story, Lou.

Snooker Theory

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
As told by : BCA Instructor Roy Pastor sends in this picture (at right) of himself, circa 1969, standing next to his then-idol, Willie Mosconi. I say "next to" and not "with" because the boy had to resort to subterfuge to have the picture taken with the great champion. Mosconi was a great player, but he could also be a tough and difficult man -- as Pastor's somewhat sad story about this photograph attests.

Here's Roy's letter:

"When I was 12 years old, back in 1969, my father took me to see an exhibition match between my idol Willie Mosconi and the house pro at Golden Q billiards in Queens New York. I was very excited as I watched Mosconi run 60 + balls to win the match.

We did not realize that Mosconi was selling copies of his book. When my dad asked him if he could take a picture of Mosconi with me, Mosconi replied that he would on the condition that my dad would purchase one of his books. Unfortunately, my father did not have enough money to buy a book. As a result, Mosconi refused to shake my hand or pose for a photograph with me. My disappointment must have been obvious because “Cue Ball” Kelly and “Kid” Laurie came right over, introduced themselves, posed for photos and were very kind. I think that it was Kelly who told me to go over and stand next to Mosconi while he was giving an interview. That way, even though he would not look at the camera, I had a picture with him.

I have kept the photos from that day as a reminder of my interactions with these legends of the sport. I always wondered how Mosconi could have so easily disappointed a 12-year-old star struck fan."

Damn, that's tough. That young kid photobombing Willie to get a picture, lol that is some determination.
I think we have all been short with someone for whatever reasons, sad to read that though.