Monday, February 22, 2010

A tribute to The Deacon: Irving Crane

Irving "The Deacon" Crane, a 1978 inductee into the BCA Hall of Fame, possessed so much patience that he would sometimes spend quiet hours practicing safeties against himself. But he was also aggressive enough to rack up crazy big runs, including his flawless run of 150 and out against Joe "The Meatman" Balsis in 1966. You can see the first part of that historic run in the video posted above (and the rest of it in my Historic Video blog).

Crane, remembered fondly today as "The Deacon" of pool, is the subject a short online tribute this month by his old friend Stuart Jack Mattana. Writing for the first time for the online PoolSynergy project, Mattana describes Crane as "the perfect combination of patience and aggressiveness," a refined gentleman and a fine role model. "Irving’s technical excellence and fundamental soundness helped him maintain world class level performance up to the age of seventy -- of today’s older players, at least for me, only Jose Parica comes close to having duplicated Irving’s prolific run of sustained excellence," opines Mattana.

Crane won major world tournaments or title matches in 1942, 1946, 1955, 1966, 1968, 1970 and 1972 -- that is, Crane was named champion during four different decades, a stunning achievement. And he doubtlessly would have won a great deal more if not for having the misfortune of playing during the same era as Willie Mosconi.

Mattana also notes that the Livonia, New York native was one of just a few players ever to run 300 balls on a 5 by 10 table. (Others include Mosconi and Ralph Greenleaf.) "Irving didn’t pocket the balls as well as Lassiter, and his position play was not quite on a par with that of Mosconi, but he managed the table with as much elegance as any player of his or any other era, and showed great imagination in his play," writes Mattana.

Crane died in 2001. You can read Mattana's warm tribute to his old friend at Gail Gazebrook's blog, which you can be find here. You can find the rest of the footage of Crane's 150-ball run (it was during the 1966 U.S. Open) in my Historic Pool Video blog. Keep clicking on the "older posts" buttons to find the entire sequence of videos.

-- R.A. Dyer


Anonymous said...

I can remember watching Mr. Crane on tv when i was young, and my father telling we are from the same town. (Livonia, NY) Years later I was working for for a lawn sevice company and my next work order was for Irving Crane. I rang the doorbell and Mr. Crane answered. I introduced myself and said i lived in Livonia. He recognized my last name and asked how members of my family by name were doing. At the time his mother in law was still in Livonia. (mid 1980's) He invited me in and offered me coffee and bagels and we talked for at least an hour. I told him I had to get back to work but I was very greatful for the time we had spent together. I learned many things about my family I did not know before meeting Mr. Crane and his wife. It is something that I will never forget, and still tell people about today. Mr. & Mrs. Crane were about the nicest people I have ever met and will cherish the time I met them.

In. HIM FOR,EVER said...

I remember..Mr.Irving Crane.came to give an Exhibition game at the United Cerebral Palsy Center..also Known as the Al Sigil.Center in Rochester NY.Unbelievable that an man of that caliber..was going to show US the clients.. WHO an WHAT he was for an afternoon.He was Coo,Calm an Stealth in his this 19 year old near forgot about that... DAY.. thank you so much for your time and consideration towards this event an memory

peter Last said...

Irving Crane was always my favorite pool player. I used to watch him in tournament play and then would try to form the same stance he had when I played. I was there at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in NYC in 1968 when he beat Lassiter twice in the finals to win the World 14.1 Tournament.