Just to be clear: Frank W. McGown was a former New York state champion who, during the course of his career, beat Wimpy Lassiter, Onofrio Lauri, Harold Worst, Mike Euphemia and Lou Butera. He was a regularly top finisher in world competition, and once ran 150 and out against Joe "Meatman" Balsis. Although the reference to his billiards success doesn't appear in his obit until somewhere near the middle, it should be noted that at one time, Frank was a very big deal. For our sport, his loss is a great one.
I first came across McGown's name some years back while researching Hustler Days, my book about Lassiter and the 1960s pool renaissance. In '67, during the early going of that year's Billiard Room Proprietors Association of America world tournament, McGown demolished Wimpy 150-22. As was McGown's custom, he played excruciatingly slow. Other players hated matching up with him. "Now, lawdie, I ask you sir, wasn't that awful?" Lassiter said shortly afterwards. "Why that danged rascal McGown played a real slow-down on me, he did indeed."
here) McGown recounts how he made a stunning shot to complete the run. Balsis had scratched of the break, giving McGown ball in hand. "I got up and ran 149 balls, and then got tied up," wrote McGown. He had to resort to a tricky cross-corner bank to complete the run. That's a diagram of the shot, above.
Lou Figueroa also posted up a funny recollection on the players' forum at azbilliards.com. Lou had matched up with Frank during an exhibition. Lou said he was playing well, and thought he had the nuts to win.
"I start to run the balls. I get into the second rack. And then the third. Frank goes to the bathroom. I get into the fourth rack. The balls are wide open. And then comes the shot that I still remember today: a little baby two ball combination on the rail behind the rack that, as Danny McGoorty would have said, a drunk Girl Scout could've made if you held her up to the table long enough.
And I took it for granted and I hung up the ball.
I was told afterwards, by a friend who went into the bathroom at that point, that McGowan was in there washing his hands. When my buddy told him that I had just missed, McGown went, 'He missed?!' And McGown comes flying out and quickly proceeds to make a dish of Shredded Duck ala Lou with an 80-something run and then a 50-something."A few quick biographical notes. McGown was born on Sept. 27, 1933 in Brooklyn. He worked as an accountant in New York, and then served with the U.S. Army in Germany until 1958. He returned to accounting upon his return from Europe, but eventually left that profession to go into business for himself.
He partnered with the dad of pool legend Jean Balukas in the operation of a Brooklyn poolroom during the 1960s. He also competed in various national and world events. According to Charlie Ursitti's site, McGown had top ten showings during major competitions in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968.
McGown eventually moved to Montana, where he at one time managed a chain of pool rooms. He died in Billings on Aug. 20th after a stroke and long illness.
Rest in Peace, Frank McGown.
-- R.A. Dyer