Monday, August 15, 2011

PoolSynergy22: Ten Important Dead Guys

George Jansco, left, and brother Paulie, right, seen here with 1993 Hall of Fame inductee Eddie Taylor. Why aren't George and Paulie in the Hall of Fame?
The newest inductees into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame were announced last week by the United States Billiard Media Association. Kudos to Danny DiLiberto and Ralf Souquet. The official induction ceremony will be held Oct. 20, during the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake.

Hall of Fame induction can mark the culmination of a grand career. Past winners include Johnny Archer, Alison Fisher, Willie Mosconi, Ralph Greenleaf and the great Willie Hoppe.  The most important promoters of the game, such as American Poolplayers Association founders Larry Hubbart and Terry Bell, have also gained entry. But several important personalities have been skipped over through the years — some because of BCA rules, others because they were active so long ago that they have been nearly forgotten.

For this edition of Pool Synergy, I've listed 10 dead guys who are not in the Hall of Fame but should be.  I've limited this list to the dearly departed, although there are plenty of folks among the living who deserve induction. I'd like to thank Mike Shamos, the great Billiards Digest historian, for help with the list. The players and promoters are listed in alphabetical order, not by order of importance.

1. Bennie Allen (1890-1953)
Allen was the U.S. 14.1 champion in 1913, 1914 and 1915. In 1950, he became he first U.S. National Snooker champion. Allen is the only three-time winner of the national 14.1 title who remains outside into the Hall of Fame.

2. Steve Cook (1946-2003)
Cook was the all-around champion in 1970 of the Las Vegas Stardust Open, then the richest tournament in pool.  Cook already has been inducted into the One-pocket Hall of Fame. However, he has been kept out of the BCA Hall of Fame because he has not won a BCA recognized world or national title, which is required for BCA induction.

3. Maurice Daly (1849-1932)
Daly was the U.S. 4-ball champion in 1873, the carom champion in 1873 and 1875 and the World cushion caroms champion in 1883.  Incredibly, he also was the teacher of Willie Hoppe and the author of Daly’s Billiard Book, which at one time was America's best-selling sports book. 
Rags: Best 1-Pocket Player Ever?

4. Johnny "Rags" Fitzpatrick (1918-1960)
One of my personal favorites, Fitzpatrick was best known as a 1-pocket player, but possessed great skill at the other games. Some believe Fitzpatrick to have been America's best-ever one-pocket players. He was inducted into the One-Pocket Hall of Fame in 2006.

5. Allen Gilbert (1939-2006)
Gilbert, who resided in Los Angeles, won the United States National 3-Cushion Billiard Championship on seven occasions. He was also the author of Systematic Billiards and a respected billiards instructor.

6. Thomas Hueston (Unknown-1940s)
Hueston won multiple championships in continuous pool (a precursor of straight pool), in straight pool and in three-cushion billiards. Hueston held both the pool and three-cushion titles at the same time.

7 & 8. George & Paulie Jansco (1915-1969, 1918-1997)
The Janscos created the famous Johnston City Tournaments, which helped transform pool into what it is today. They also created the Stardust Tournaments in Las Vegas. The Janscos were inducted into the One-Pocket Hall of Fame in 2007.

9. Jerome Keogh (1873-1953)
Keogh won the continuous pool championship many times over — but more importantly, he was the actual inventor of straight pool. How many people can make such a claim? It's incredible that Keogh has not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

10. Don Willis (1909-1984)
Willis was remembered as one of America's finest hustlers and a great friend and road partner to Wimpy Lassiter. Willis was a great 9-ball player, but he always avoided tournaments.

About PoolSynergy
PoolSynergy is an online collaborative effort by pool and billiard bloggers, in which each agrees to write about a single theme. To read a list of the other fine contributions this month, check out Sam Diep Vidal's excellent Pool Tip Jar blog, which you can find here.  If you have a question or a suggested topic for the PoolSynergy project, please send it to R.A. Dyer, care of this email address. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

BCA: Souquet, DiLiberto inducted into HOF

(Press release from the Billiard Congress of America)

Broomfield, Colo., Aug. 12, 2011 — Versatility and longevity are the common threads that bind 2011 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame inductees Ralf Souquet and Danny DiLiberto, who earned election into pool’s hallowed halls in voting conducted by the United States Billiard Media Association. Souquet, 42, and DiLiberto, 76, will be formally inducted into Greatest Player wing of the BCA Hall of Fame on Oct. 20 during ceremonies at the Chesapeake Marriott in Chesapeake, Va.

Souquet, born in Eschweiler, Germany, has been a dominant player in Europe for more than 25 years, having won more than 40 German titles and 34 European Championship medals. But his record is nearly as impressive in top U.S. and international events. “The Kaiser,” as Souquet is known, boasts world titles in both 9-ball (1996) and 8-ball (2004), a gold medal in 9-ball at the 2009 World Games, and is a four-time winner of the World Pool Masters. On American soil, Souquet owns a BCA U.S. Open 14.1 Championship crown (2000), a U.S. Open 9-Ball title (2002), a pair of BCA Open 9-Ball Championship titles, and has won the Derby City 9-ball crown three times.

“This is great news!” said Souquet, who had finished second in Hall of Fame voting to Francisco Bustamante in 2010. “It’s a great honor. When you talk about the greatest players, like Archer and Strickland and Varner, they’re all in the Hall of Fame. Being mentioned in the same list with those names is a great achievement.”

Souquet becomes the seventh foreign-born player inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame.

“I’m also proud to be the first European male player in the Hall of Fame,” Souquet added. “I think it’s probably harder for a foreign player to be voted in, but it’s nice that the American pool community believes that my overall game and approach to the sport has been positive. I must have done something right.”

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., DiLiberto chose billiards ahead of boxing, bowling and baseball, all sports at which the multi-talented athlete excelled. In fact, DiLiberto boxed professionally and was undefeated as a professional fighter. Under the tutelage of famed trainer Angelo Dundee, and boxing under the name Danny Toriani, DiLiberto posted a 14-0-2 record, with 12 knockouts in the late ’50s, until his oft-injured hands forced him to retire from the ring.

Boxing’s loss was billiards’ gain, as the colorful DiLiberto spent nearly 30 years near the top of the game. DiLiberto won numerous national-class tournaments in the ’60s, but was at his peak in the 1970s when 14.1 was the game of champions in the pool world. After falling in the title match of the prestigious BCA U.S. Open 14.1 championship in both 1968 (to Joe Balsis) and 1972 (to Steve Mizerak), DiLiberto won the straight pool division at the 1972 Johnston City World All-Around Championships. DiLiberto then went on to defeat 9-ball division champ Billy Incardona and one- pocket division winner Larry “Boston Shorty” Johnson in a three-man playoff to earn the Johnston City All-Around crown.

DiLiberto’s versatility at the table shown through in the ’80s when he defeated Nick Varner in the title match to win the 1981 BCA National 8-Ball Championship, then won the ’83 World One- Pocket title and the 1984 Classic Cup 9-Ball crown, giving him a major national title in the four major pool disciplines.

“I’m really choked up,” DiLiberto said after being informed of the honor. “I really thought the Hall of Fame would wait until I was dead to vote for me. It’s truly an honor. This makes my day, my month, my year!”

Voting was conducted by the USBMA Hall of Fame Board, which consists of USBMA members, elected At-Large members and living members of the BCA Hall of Fame. Induction in the Greatest Players category is awarded to the player named on the most ballots. A second player is elected if both players are named on more than 70 percent of the ballots. Souquet was named on 65 percent of the ballots. Karen Corr received votes on 56 percent of the ballots. No other eligible player was named on more than 25 percent of the ballots. To be eligible for consideration in the Greatest Player category, a player a) must be 40 years old by Jan. 1 of the year of their induction; b) must have a professional playing career of at least 10 years; and c) must have recorded significant achievements in U.S.-based events.

DiLiberto is the first player elected to the Greatest Player wing of the BCA Hall of Fame through recommendation of the Veterans Committee. The Veterans Committee, a committee elected by the USBMA, reviews the resumes of mid-20th century players unlikely to win election against contemporary stars, and players who failed to be elected through the general Greatest Players elections prior to turning 60 years of age. A player recommended by the Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame Board must receive a simple majority of “Yes” votes from the board for election.

About Billiard Congress of America

Founded in 1948, the Billiard Congress of America is a non-profit trade organization dedicated to growing a united, prosperous and highly regarded billiard industry through BCA leadership. The BCA seeks to enhance the success of its members and promote the game of billiards though educational, marketing and promotional efforts, annual industry trade shows and other programs designed to encourage billiards as a lifestyle and make pool everybody’s game.