Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More stories about Ralph Greenleaf

Mr. Coby Atkins writes in with a story about Ralph Greenleaf. He also has a great idea about visiting the retirement homes in his area for more information. Notice at the bottom he describes a shot that appears very similar to the "Jersey Red" one-pocket shot. I had always heard that Jersey Red was credited with that shot but maybe Ralph Greenleaf was shooting it even earlier.

Here's Mr. Atkins note:

Hello Mr. Dyer,

I am 55 years old and have lived most of my days in Lancaster, PA. As a young pool enthusiast, I often sought out the old timers to, hopefully, steal a tip or a secret to mastering the game of Pocket Billiards.

As published in the Billiard Digest, Mr. Greenleaf had written a letter of complaint to Brunswick from Lancaster. I don’t know what the date of that letter was, but that helps in putting into perspective the stories I had heard regarding Mr. Greenleaf’s stay here in Lancaster.

One of those “Old Timers” was Ducky Gilbert. He was probably about the same age as Mr. Greenleaf. I had met Ducky in the early ‘70’s, perhaps ’73 or ’74, and he was in his early 70’s himself. Three Cushion Billiards was his game and he was much better than average. Ducky always claimed it was Ralph Greenleaf who showed him the way to better Billiards. One of his stories was that Mr. Greenleaf never had any money. He would start his day by entering the poolroom on Queen Street and borrow a one dollar bill. He would then lay the bill on the table at the Brunswick Logo and ask for bets as too him shooting a spot shot (object ball on the foot spot and cue ball on the head spot) and after pocketing the object ball, the cue ball would stop on the dollar bill. Apparently Mr. Greenleaf was extremely proficient at the shot and very, very rarely failed. This story was verified by Peter DeLaurentis, who would have been in his early twenties at that time.

In York, PA, there is a private Men’s Club called the Yankee Athletic Association. A very cool place to play. When I was first introduced to the Club in 1975, there were 4 Brunswick Centennials in a theater setting with 150 point wires over each table. One of the bartenders was an “Old Timer” with white hair, in which they called (get this) “Whitey”. Having no idea Whitey even played pool, he began to tell me about Mr. Greenleaf, when he found out I was from Lancaster. He said that someone would usually have to bring Mr. Greenleaf over to the Yankee, because he did not have his own transportation. The Club Membership had many accomplished players, of which, Whitey was of the best. He described Mr. Greenleaf’s stroke in that he always aimed the tip of his cue low on the cue ball before following through to the point of contact. He, also, said that Mr. Greenleaf was all but mediocre, at best, until he had at least two drinks in him.

Both Ducky and Whitey, both, told me it was Mr. Greenleaf who showed them the double kiss bank off the long rail. Cue ball in the kitchen (or near that whereabouts), Object ball frozen to the rail one diamond or so above the side pocket. Shoot medium speed just to the upper side of the center of the object ball. Object ball will double kiss back into the rail and bank into the lower corner pocket. I’ve used it many times during one pocket games and have seen it used only once against me ever.

There are more and I’m probably not the only new young old timer with these second hand stories or memories.

All these folks are gone. But, before it may be too late. I was considering entering a small "request for information" ad in a few of the retirement villages and homes in Lancaster County. There just might be someone left in the area who has some memories of that time.

Would I be wasting my time? Is there any special type of notice I should arrange? Do you have any suggestions? Would you be interested in any of this information, if there is some to be found?

I’m sure all of it would be hearsay, but would make for some great scuttlebutt.

1 comment:

Michael ("FastMikie") McCafferty said...

I love these stories, and it would be great to hear some more from the oldsters. The idea of an ad is good, but what about just going to the Lancaster area pool halls and asking around. And bring a video camera... it would be great to see the smiles and eyes light up as they remember some of those stories!