Thursday, August 26, 2010

Babe Cranfield, Mosconi and Long Runs

Reader Dave Capone sends in this note about the late Hall of Famer Arthur "Babe" Cranfield, who was one of only a handful of men who may have broken Mosconi's 526-ball straight pool record. I say "may," of course, because Cranfield's claimed run of 768 balls was never confirmed. Mosconi had plenty of witnesses for his 526-ball run and an affidavit on record at the Museum of American History to prove it.

But Cranfield made plenty of other long runs, including the 32-rack run apparently witnessed by Mr. Capone, as described below.  Billiards Digest columnist George Fels also notes that Cranfield once ran 420 balls in straight pool on a 5 by 10 table. Fels says this feat was witnessed by a crowd in Syracuse, New York, Cranfield's hometown.  A run that long would mean Cranfield plowed through 30 racks without a single miss. Most players can't run 30 balls, much less 30 racks. Cranfield also was the only player ever to have won national junior, amateur and professional titles.

So anyhow, that's Babe Cranfield. Here's what Dave Capone has to say about his star-struck encounter with him:

I went to Hollywood Billiards in Syracause N.Y when I was 19 years old. I walked in the first time and all the tables were open. I said to the person that was running the place that I would like a table. He said which one would you like and I said 'I'd like the one in the middle.' He told me that it was reserved for someone. So I took one two tables over. This older man came with his own billiard balls and took the table I wanted the first time. I started to watch him play and he was runing rack after rack so I stopped playing myself and started watching him play. I didn't know him at the time so I left and came back the following week and he was already there. I starting playing and he came to me and said (he was) getting bored (and asked if I) would like racking the balls. I got so excited because I was just starting to learn how to play. I said I would love to rack for him. I racked and racked and racked. I was counting the racks. When he finally missed, he ran a total 32 racks. I was amazed!!!!!  He told me his name was Babe Cranfield.  It really was a treat at my young age to have an opportunity to witness such a great talent.


David said...

Great story, it is awesome to hear these sort of stories about my grandfather. He never wanted us to participate much in billiards so most of the stories come second hand!! - Dave Cranfield

Anonymous said...

I knew Babe, used to play him in Syracuse once in a while.
He was also a scratch golfer, could have gone pro.

Anonymous said...

I seen Babe play in the world's pocket billiard championship in 1967. I'm from Rome, NY that's about 50 miles east of Syracuse, NY. Well I'll never forget Babe missed a shot and slamed his fist down on the table and yelled something and I remember thinking another maniac from my area. Years latter not to long after he had written his books and passed away I gone to see him at his home
and had him autograph alot of things.

Paul Rivers said...

I attended LeMoyne College from 1962-1966 and was learning to play pool at Syracuse Bowl when I first met Mr. Cranfield. He amazed me with the precision of his position play and instilled in me a love for the game of straight pool. At the time I was told that he was practicing to enter the tournament that he won in 1964. Observing him run rack after rack was one of the highlights of my life.