Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ralph Greenleaf, Willie Mosconi & "The Rocket"

If you've been following along lately, you might know that we've begun a online poll intended to get to the heart of the age-old Greenleaf-Mosconi question. That is: which player really was better, Ralph Greenleaf or Willie Mosconi?

Historian Charlie Ursitti recently picked Mosconi. To support this position, Charlie points to Willie's winnning percentage in world championship competition. "The numbers don't lie," he says. To get another view I gave a call over the weekend to author J.D. Dolan. A resident of Michigan, Dolan is one of the nation's foremost experts on Greenleaf. The author's expertise comes as a result of the decade he has spent researching Greenleaf's life as part of his work for a future novel.

And Dolan, perhaps not surprisingly, says Greenleaf was the better player. The author says Greenleaf played fast, and with confidence -- not unlike Ronnie O'Sullivan, the famous English snooker champion. "Have a look at some of Ronnie O'Sullivan's videos on YouTube. His fast and perfect games are just the way people described Greenleaf's," said Dolan.

And so, upon J.D.'s recommendation, I am presenting here an incredibly fast snooker run by "The Rocket."

As an aside, I have found that YouTube is quite annoying in that it prohibits videos of longer than 10 minutes in duration. But O'Sullivan runs these balls so fast that he requires no more than eight minutes.

OK, now tell me again why the cue sports aren't permitted in the Olympics?

-- R.A. Dyer


Michael McCafferty said...

A truly great run.
If you haven't read "The Autobiography of Ronnie O'Sullivan" then you are missing out on the inside story of one of the all-time bad boys of snooker.

Roy Zornow said...

Given that "numbers don't lie", I'm curious about Dolan's reason's for picking Greenleaf (other than he played fast).

R.A. Dyer said...

Dolan mentions plenty more reasons, the not least of which was that Greenleaf was more known for playing on the big 5 by 10 tables with tighter pockets. Unlike Mosconi, Greenleaf played his entire career on the bigger tables. I'm hoping to explore a lot of these issues in the BD column I'm working on...

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, when the tables changed from 5x10 to 4.5x9 ( ~10% length and ~20% area reduction) the match count went from 125 up to 150 or about 20% increase.

Looking at Mr. Ursitti's material one can see Mosconi's ball per inning numbers were well above the average and his victories in the world challenge matches in 1946-1948 against Crane, Caras, and Ponzi were crushing.
Mosconi gave great credit to Green leaf in his interview with Mort Luby jr. so I would attribute some of MOsconi's success to his mentor.