Willie Mosconi

Highmiles

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The best player ever, to actually hate the game of pool, and the people who played it?
Any thoughts on that?
 

strokerace

"The Hustler"
Silver Member
The best player ever, to actually hate the game of pool, and the people who played it?
Any thoughts on that?

He didn't hate the game..(14.1 Straight Pool) he hated ever other game
and the folks who played them..he was a purist of the first degree
old school..play 14-1 Rack or don't play at all!!..Guys could really rattle
him in games like 9 ball and 1 Pocket..He wanted to be World Champion
over money games by big time Hustlers..its those class of folks he really
hated..SA
 

Highmiles

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I base my statement on the fact that Willie quit pool at the age of 10, and expressed the fact he didn't care if he ever played again. At 18, he was pretty much forced back into pool to bring in money for his family through hustling, which he despised. In his biography, Stanley Cohen wrote that he played with intensity, just the other side of despair. Willie himself, said that he learned to hate everyone he ever played against.
It almost sounds like he found absolutely no joy in the game. Good point on the one pocket. He referred to that as a hustler's "gimmick" game.
He made a lot of money at 14.1, but I have never found a reference to his love of the game.
 

Banks

Banned
I base my statement on the fact that Willie quit pool at the age of 10, and expressed the fact he didn't care if he ever played again. At 18, he was pretty much forced back into pool to bring in money for his family through hustling, which he despised. In his biography, Stanley Cohen wrote that he played with intensity, just the other side of despair. Willie himself, said that he learned to hate everyone he ever played against.
It almost sounds like he found absolutely no joy in the game. Good point on the one pocket. He referred to that as a hustler's "gimmick" game.
He made a lot of money at 14.1, but I have never found a reference to his love of the game.

I think some of this is taken out of context. It is my understanding that he learned to hate his opponents for the game(it's harder to drop a whooping on someone you liked). He also despised the way the game was portrayed by some. Any young child that is pushed hard after showing talent is going to have some inner hatred of what they're pushed so hard to do.. but it's because of being pushed. From what I remember reading, he didn't have a problem showing somebody here or there that he 'still had it' and could run out a rack and tell you how in advance. He enjoyed the game, but hated the circumstances and atmosphere that he often found surrounding it. That's what I've got out of what I've previously read about him anyways(so maybe I'm still wrong).
 

macguy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The best player ever, to actually hate the game of pool, and the people who played it?
Any thoughts on that?

I must have seen him play exhibitions more the 50 times and he was always kind of a miserable guy. He would give dirty looks at anyone who moved when he was shooting. Once after a not so great trick shot exhibition, he didn't know they would be 4 x 8's. He left without signing any autographs and as he was maybe 30 feet away shouted back, "What time do I have to be back here tonight, I want to get in a round of golf". It was obvious being in that pool room and having to be nice to the customers was the last place he wanted to be.

Once he was playing an exhibition in Tampa against Eddie Taylor. It was a 1000 point catch up match over 4 nights all guaranteed money. We got there a little late the second night and everyone was just milling around. Turns out Mr. Baker who owned the room and was footing the bill for everything had thrown Mosconi out of the room and paid off Taylor. Mosconi was so miserable the first night yelling at the spectators, complaining about everything in the place. Said something to the effect that Bakers room was a dump, sort of correct by the way, Mr. Baker had had enough and it was over. To the best of my knowledge Baker didn't pay Mosconi he gave all the money to Taylor.

This is not to bad mouth Mosconi but beyond his obvious talent there was not much there to admire about the man. Ask Danny DiLiberto about Mosconi. When Mosconi was working for Ebonite they wanted to give a job to Danny as their touring pro. The company was headquartered in Hialeah where Danny lived. Mosconi put the kibosh on the deal keeping Danny from getting the job. Mosconi I doubt ever did a thing for another player in his life.
 

KRJ

Support UKRAINE
Silver Member
This is not to bad mouth Mosconi but beyond his obvious talent there was not much there to admire about the man. Ask Danny DiLiberto about Mosconi. When Mosconi was working for Ebonite they wanted to give a job to Danny as their touring pro. The company was headquartered in Hialeah where Danny lived. Mosconi put the kibosh on the deal keeping Danny from getting the job. Mosconi I doubt ever did a thing for another player in his life.

Yeah, I see what you mean. He didn't beat his wife, smoke dope, stab hookers, or push lil old ladies down to steal their social security checks. What a freakin scumbag !!!

He most likely didn't like the limelight and maybe only played because it was a means to an end. I know a few players who don't even like pool but only did it because there were good and they could make money at it. Once they stopped hustling they never played pool again.
 

manwon

"WARLOCK 1"
Silver Member
The best player ever, to actually hate the game of pool, and the people who played it?
Any thoughts on that?


I don't think he hated the game of pool, but Willie certainly never had a nice thing to say about another player. No one can take his ability away from him he was certainly gifted, and by any standards one of the best 14-1 players that ever lived. But, he also very egotistical, arrogant, and selfish, he never gave others the credit they were do, so I suppose I can't blame so many others for thinking he was an asshole.

To me it is really ashame when people who have nothing to prove can't see themselves for what they are and throughout their entire lives they fight a battle they can never win against themselves.:(

JIMO
 

Terry Ardeno

I still love my wife
Silver Member
Mosconi liked & got along well with Jimmy Caras. He didn't care for Irving Crane, mainly because Crane was his main rival for years. He also said that Crane "tried my patience by playing saftey after saftey". Crane also played slower than Mosconi, which also bothered Mosconi. Mosconi called Crane "bland and overly conservative".

Willie looked at pool as a paycheck, a way to support himself. Crane just loved the game, and supported himself thru regular employment.
 

macguy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Yeah, I see what you mean. He didn't beat his wife, smoke dope, stab hookers, or push lil old ladies down to steal their social security checks. What a freakin scumbag !!!

He most likely didn't like the limelight and maybe only played because it was a means to an end. I know a few players who don't even like pool but only did it because there were good and they could make money at it. Once they stopped hustling they never played pool again.

The problem with Mosconi was, when competing if he was a little temperamental it is understandable. When he are being paid to play exhibitions to promote the game, Brunswick and the business where they send him. He doesn't have the luxury of being temperamental even if he has to put on an act that is your job. He did an exhibition not far from my pool room and people were looking forward to it for weeks. When they came back that night they hated the guy, he lost every fan he had that went to see him that night.

Now I am going to say something nice. I saw him do one of the last exhibitions he ever did not all that long before he died. He was doing his trick shots and I think he was becoming somewhat senile by then. He was with I believe his daughter who was helping him. During the show he repeated a shot and it was interesting, when he repeated the shot he began to do everything he had done over. His daughter said to him a few times "Dad you did that shot already" and she tried to get him back on track.

He seemed confused and finally said, " I think I am getting a little punchy, I am going play some 14.1 for you". He gave a brief explanation of the game, set up a break shot and proceeded to run the most beautiful 42 balls you ever saw leaving a perfect break shot before breaking down his cue. Amazing how his skills, even though diminished, his 14.1 game never let him down.
 
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PoolBum

Ace in the side.
Silver Member
He seemed confused and finally said, " I think I am getting a little punchy, I am going play some 14.1 for you". He gave a brief explanation of the game, set up a break shot and proceeded to run the most beautiful 42 balls you ever saw leaving a perfect break shot before breaking down his cue. Amazing how his skills, even though diminished, his 14.1 game never let him down.

Mosconi could probably run a hundred while on life support.
 

Highmiles

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Perhaps I should add something. I think Mosconi was a tremendous player, and I have nothing but respect for the amount of skill he possessed. I started this post, to get other people's impressions, because the more I read about him, the more I felt that pool tortured him in some way. I know it gave him fame, and a good living, but it almost seems like he resented the position afforded him by his skill, or the people he had to associate with, in order to earn his living. I have yet to see any joy derived in the process.
 

California Kid

Registered
Mosconi

I saw Mosconi shoot an exhibition at a Vet's Hospital while he was under contract with Brunswick. He was a class act the whole time. Great guy. Just wanted people to see what a wonderful game pool can be when played correctly. I understand that his contract was a 100 ball run during the show or it was for free. How many players today can do that?? I also understand that Mosconi was under contract with Brunswick with a "no gambling" clause
Therefore he couldn't play for money. If he did gamble, I'll bet the line was pretty short to take him on. Perhaps Jay can comment on this...
 

PoolBum

Ace in the side.
Silver Member
I saw Mosconi shoot an exhibition at a Vet's Hospital while he was under contract with Brunswick. He was a class act the whole time. Great guy. Just wanted people to see what a wonderful game pool can be when played correctly. I understand that his contract was a 100 ball run during the show or it was for free. How many players today can do that?? I also understand that Mosconi was under contract with Brunswick with a "no gambling" clause
Therefore he couldn't play for money. If he did gamble, I'll bet the line was pretty short to take him on. Perhaps Jay can comment on this...

He gambled before his contract with Brunswick, he just didn't like to admit it in later years.
 
I don't think Mosconi was a bad guy, nor do I think he truly came to hate the game so much as he hated the things that he felt took away prestige from the game. He was a purist. It seems to me that he was just being true to his own character and style.

An old timer told me about having gone to see Mosconi at an exhibition in a pool hall in the Town of West New York, NJ. He said that all the men and boys dressed up in suits and ties. He and his dad presented their tickets and took their place on the bleacher seats. He told me it was an early Autumn day but it had gotten hot and stuffy in the poolroom. Mosconi made his appearance in his usual suit and tie, according to my friend he never loosened the suit jacket or tie and looked quite cool and comfortable. Well..a little while later someone opened one of the back windows slightly to hopefully make life easier for the spectators. Shortly after that Willie ordered the window shut because he said he felt a draft. The window was promptly shut and Willie continued with his exhibition.

I remember reading about how Mosconi taught Newman how to play for The Hustler. Willie set up the shots that ended up in the film, and took at least some of the shots.

Newman put a pool table in his dining room and played with Mosconi and practiced in disguise at a girls high school. By the time filming began, Newman was a decent player, and took many of his own shots.

Jackie Gleason, was a good player even before he played Fats in The Hustler. Toots Shor, set up a match between Mosconi and Gleason, without revealing Mosconi's identity. Mosconi was supposed to be a businessman or something and used an assumed name. Mosconi won of course. Gleason made out OK too, because Mosconi recommended him to director Robert Rossen for the part of Fats.

Say what you want but Willie Mosconi was the man. He did more for the sport by the good things he did than anyone since him, did he have his faults, oh hell yeah, who doesn't?

Let's recall just a few of his accomplishments, high run of 526 in exhibition play, set in Springfield, OH, in 1954; a high grand average of 18.34 in a world tournament in Chicago in 1950, and a best game in which he sank 150 balls in a row in one inning (a perfect game) against a disbelieving Jimmy Moore in Kinston, N.C., in 1956.

This is an excerpt from his obituary in The New York Times:

As he grew older and honed his skills, Mr. Mosconi was able to combine his great talents with movie-star good looks and tasteful attire. He was able to almost single-handedly establish billiards as a reputable pastime in the minds of the general public.

His efforts to disassociate billiards from the images of smoky basements, bars and parlors crawling with drunks and hustlers was the reason for his feuds over the years with his chief nemesis, Minnesota Fats, a quick-witted, flashy hustler whose real name is Rudolf Wanderone and who always taunted Mr. Mosconi but continually denied invitations to compete against him.

"My husband hated Minnesota Fats because he felt that he was always hurting the image of the game instead of helping it," said Flora Mosconi. "Willie thought so highly of the game that he never referred to it as 'pool.' He insisted on calling it billiards."


The Obituary: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CEFD9163BF93BA2575AC0A965958260
 

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measureman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I played Willie an exhibition match in Toms River NJ around 1964 or 1965 I don't remember exactly. Willie ran 85 and out and I turned in a world class performance as a rack boy.He did crack a few good jokes.
I do remember him as being well mannered but a little cold and stand offish.
He performed some trick shots and acknowledged an old time player from NJ who was in the crowd as "one of the best players to ever come out of NJ".
All in all I remember it as a great night.
 

nancewayne

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I had the pleasure (?) of having him beat me in a 14.1 exhibition (race to 150) in 1961 and 1962 in a Brunswick house in Portland, OR.. The 1st match (I was 20 yrs.old), I was almost wetting my pants and REALLY nervous (I lost badly)! I also played Jimmy Caras in between the visits from Willie (didn't do very well with him either~!). When Willie came back the 2nd time, he knew me (or at least acknowledge having played me there before). We went a few innings to a score of around: Willie 75, me 25. I hit a gear and ran around 35 balls, when I missed, Willie proceeded to run the 75 and out not missing a beat! I guess he discovered I could play a little and didn't want to look bad~! He DID handle himself very professionally and was friendly to all. I DO believe he helped the image of (what he called, "pocket billiards"). Also, the 1961 exhibition was his 1st public exhibition after he did the consulting on the "Hustler" movie!
 
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George Fels

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I would say "indifference" describes the man's attitude toward pool best. He certainly appreciated that the game enabled him to make a fine living; it's simply that he never really fell for it the way the rest of us have, thus it rated as some sort of necessary evil. Of course he helped the game immeasurably; not only was he a dominant champion, a story that American sports media almost always enjoy, but his appearance and conduct, with a very few exceptions, were always impeccable. He was not considered to be a nice guy; how much of that consensus comes back to jealousy depends, I guess, on whom it is you're asking for an opinion. GF
 

Rich93

A Small Time Charlie
Silver Member
There's a lot of credible testimony that he could be temperamental, e.g., his behavior at that 1966 tournament where Joe Balsis beat him in the finals. See Danny Diliberto's Road Warrior memoir for details (Danny D is not Willie's biggest booster, though, so maybe a grain of salt is in order). By and large, however, I think he almost always conducted himself well, if a little stand-offish like measureman says. In the two exhibitions where I saw him in the early '60's, he seemed a little cold and businesslike during the straight pool match with the local guy, but he opened up and seemed friendly during the trick shots that followed. But he was not a natural born performer.

I think a key to Mosconi is that he really took pool's image seriously. The scorn he heaped upon gamblers and hustlers seemed sincere - he saw them as dirtying the nest where he was earning the money to feed his chicks. He wasn't one of them, looked down on them and didn't want to have anything to do with them. He much preferred the company of guys like Fred Astaire and did seem to have a lot of friends in show business.

What comes through in his autobiography, Willie's Game, is that he regarded pool, or "pocket billiards" as he would say, as the way he could earn the best living for himself and his family. But a lot of pride in his accomplishments also comes through. He surely didn't hate the game. It was his profession and he was always ready to pick up a cue stick if the money was right. He was a child of the depression, after all.
 
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