Willie Mosconi's World Championships

kingman33

AzB Silver Member
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It is amazing how few films of the old greats exist. I assume the fault lies with copyright. Whoever owned the rights in the 1940s and 1950s locked the films away out of fear they would be copied. Then thirty years later they were forgotten and thrown in the trash.

Most of the clips available online feature dopey trick shots or reenactments. Here's MGM's "Willie Mosconi Story":


And here's a 1963 exhibition match after Willie had his stroke and quit tournament play. At least this is a real match.

Oh that’s a heartbreaker story for sure
 

JB Cases

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Since I don't have much else to do during the pandemic, I extracted Mosconi's World Championship winning performances from Charlie Ursitti's records. This starts from the first one he won in 1941. Note that in 1933 he lost by a single ball. From 1941 to 1956 there were some other championships he didn't win; this is just a list of those he did win.

WCL = World Championship League
WCT = WC Tournament
WCM = WC Challenge Match

  1. 1940-1941 WCL 32xRR? 8 players Mosconi 176-48, Ponzi 144-80 (224 match season) multiple cities
  2. 1942 Dec. WCT 6 player DRR, Mosconi 9-1, Ponzi 6-4, Detroit
  3. 1944 Feb. WCM 10 blocks of 125, Mosconi 1250, Ponzi 924, KC, MO
  4. 1945 Feb. WCM 48 blocks of 125, Mosconi 5498, Greenleaf 3738, KC, Chi., NYC, Det.
  5. 1946 Mar. WCM 86 blocks of 125, Mosconi 8727, Caras 7508, 10 locations
  6. 1946 Nov. WCM 30 blocks of 125, Mosconi 3750, Crane 2919, 4 rooms
  7. 1947 May, WCM 16 blocks of 125, Mosconi 2000, Crane 918, Perth Amboy + Chicago
  8. 1947 Nov. WCM 32 blocks of 125, Mosconi 4000, Caras 2334, Det., Perth Amboy, KCMO
  9. 1948 Mar, WCM 9 blocks of 150, Mosconi 1350, Ponzi 643, Chicago
  10. 1950 Feb, WCT, 4-player DRR to 150, Mosconi 4-2, Crane 4-2 (playoff), Chi.
  11. 1951 Jan, WCM, 20 blocks of 150, Mosconi 3000, Crane 2323, Phila. and KCMO
  12. 1951 Feb, WCT, 4-player DRR to 150, Mosconi 6-0, Crane, Chenier and Canton all 2-4, Chicago
  13. 1952 Apr, WCT, 10-player RR to 150, Mosconi 8-1, Crane 7-2, Boston
  14. 1953 Mar, WCT, 9-player RR to 150, Mosconi 8-0, Procita, Caras, Moore, Crane tied at 5-3, San Francisco
  15. 1954 Mar, WCM, 16 blocks of 150, Mosconi 2400, Procita 989, Phila. and Chi.
  16. 1955 Nov, WCM, 10 blocks of 150, Mosconi 1500, Crane 676, Phila.
  17. 1956 Jan, WCM, 42 blocks of 150, Mosconi 6300, Caras 3007, 6 cities
  18. 1956 Mar, WCM, 12 blocks of 150, Mosconi 1800, Moore 879, Albuquerque
  19. 1956 Apr, WCT 8-player RR to 150, Mosconi 14-0, Crane 10-4, Kinston, NC

Note that beginning in 1950 the matches seem to have been played on 4.5x9-foot tables. Prior to that 10-foot tables were standard. It's not clear but some of the challenge matches in the 1950s may have been on 10-foot tables.
Amazing how often Willie dominated his opponents and the field.

And no one today should complain about long sessions.
 

JB Cases

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I can't tell what your knowledge of straight pool is. You played in a pro event it seems so maybe you're more knowledgeable than me, I don't know. Let me say upfront that I, too, never saw him play, but my father saw him up close on numerous occasions and I've heard the descriptions from him throughout my life as well as from some in this forum.

What did Mosconi do better than anyone today? He made it look easy. Plain and simple. Nearly every shot was a duck so pocket size didn't really matter. Occasionally, something unexpected would happen and he'd kind of get red in the face and circle around the table a few times as if he were upset that the balls misbehaved. Then he'd call something out of the pack and blast it in.

Another observation from my father: Mind you this is in the 60's when he was retired and already recovered from a stroke. The guy, you could argue, was not even in his prime. Anyway, it looked so easy that my father began to question whether billiards really was a game that required much skill. In other words, if this guy can run balls this effortlessly then it must not be that hard to do and anyone could probably do the same. That's how easy Mosconi made it look.

Fast forward 30 or 40 years and my father took up a renewed interest in pool after I moved back into town from living out of state for many years. He watched all the pros on Accustats and youtube and we went to a couple of tournaments together. He appreciated the ability of today's pro players, but candidly always told me it was a joke compared to Mosconi. He was tableside when Appleton set the record high run of 200 balls in competition. He said that run was the closest thing he had seen to a Mosconi type run.

You might be interested to pick up Mosconi's autobiography. There are some interesting stories in there. I think some of what you said has merit, but like always it is hard to compare eras. I think you are putting too much emphasis on shot making and mental toughness of today's players. Mosconi may have been the best shot maker of his time, best strategist and was certainly the toughest mentally.

Let's flip it around. How many of today's best players...

* Played the reigning world champion and celebrity Greenleaf to a close match at the age of 6,

* Beat many expert (professional?) players before his age hit double digits,

* Played for food. There was a time when if he didn't win he didn't eat,

* Walked into a strange pool hall and ran 100 balls on command on a strange table, in front of a large audience, and did it hundreds of times. Think about that. How many pro players today would take you up on a bet to do that?

Anyway, it's an interesting topic to kick around. Gotta run though.
I think John Schmidt would be among those today who would likely be able to do the 100 or it's free proposition that some players used to have as part of their exhibitions.
 

Dan White

AzB Silver Member
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I think John Schmidt would be among those today who would likely be able to do the 100 or it's free proposition that some players used to have as part of their exhibitions.
You are very reasonable when not talking about CTE. I agree. Well, let's say if JS had to beat the ghost in runs to 100 he would be a good bet, provided the table played generously.
 

CocoboloCowboy

Cowboys are my heros.
Silver Member
Well Willie Mosconi was maybe Pools greatest ambassador.

long time friend was Willie cousin, my friend was stand up comic, did commercials, and work in TV & Motion picture industry doing extra work.

At one time the cousin had a very successful business in Burbank, CA. It was when slot car racing was popular.

One day I was in the business, and Lou introduced me to his Cousin Willie. Said Willie was Pool player.

Did not realize it was the Famous Willie.🤣
 

Bob Jewett

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... And no one today should complain about long sessions.
It's a different time. There are no official challenge matches for pool championships although maybe there should be. The longest finals match in cue sports currently is in the World Snooker Championship at two days and a race to 18 or "best of 35". That's roughly a race to 40 or 50 at nine ball.
 
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