Saturday, April 25, 2009

A few stories from a ghost hunting pool player

Sometime back my family and I enjoyed an excellent ghost tour of downtown San Antonio. I was quite pleased to discover that the host of the tour -- one Martin Leal -- is a big pool fan. We spent a good while talking about pool before and after the tour. I mentioned the recent sightings of UJ Puckett's ghost, at Fast Freddie's in Fort Worth. I suggested he bring out his equipment and camera crew to discover the truth.

Martin was a very interesting and gracious host and story teller. He wrote me a note sometime back. Here's what he said:

I was lucky to have hung around with some of the best players from the near old days because of my father and his friends who have become my friends. Puckett, Jersey Red, Fats, Reyes, Allen. I remember seeing Allen for the first time at Reds in Houston. The first game I watched him play was one pocket. He broke, made a ball and then ran out in about four minutes. I was like wow, did that really happen, he made it look like a 9-ball game. I remember Jersey Red play a guy for two dollars a game at 9 ball and beat him for three hours straight. I don't think the guy won one game in three hours. Somebody asked Red why he would play for two dollars a game and he said, "look at this, I win about fifteen games per hour, that's thirty dollars an hour, its easy money, hahaha."

Fats did an exhibition in San Antonio about thirty years ago and he spent the night at the pool hall owners house and I was invited to come over and wow, Fats could really talk, just talk, talk, talk about the old days. It was very entertaining but I could not figure out how much was fact and how much was Fats bullshit but it was a great experience....

Are you familiar with a guy named Little Al Romero from California? He came to visit my father in the 70's. We went to moyers billiards in Austin. Little Al beat the best of the local players and when one of the players named Steve S------- quit after losing a few hundred, Little Al said he would play left handed and Steve said that if Al played left handed he would double the bet from 20 to 40 per game. Little Al could play the same with either hand and he killed the guy for a few more hundred and Steve quit again. So, Al tries to work on something else with Steve, one pocket, a spot, something and Steve told him: "Hey, after seeing you beat me with your weak hand I do not want to play you anything, I will not even play you a game of jacks like the kids play because you are unbeatable." I really enjoyed that experience.

I think there are so many players out there who have some great stories about the road that never became famous. I went on the road with a guy named Tito years ago, we went as far as Memphis. Tito plays left handed. That is the only way he can play, left handed. He would beat guys out of a few hundred and then do tell them he would play them left handed and you would not believe how many suckers never noticed he had been playing left handed all of the time and go for more of a beating.

Martin Leal