Johnston City Stories: Daddy Warbucks, a Hat and a Toilet Brush

Gary Carlson, a former graduate student from Southern Illinois who wrote recently about a chance encounter he had with Minnesota Fats, also sent in a note about stumbling into a poolroom owned by George and Paulie Jansco. This was sometime back in the late 1960s. The Janscos were the creators of the famous Johnston City tournaments, which I write about in Hustler Days. Carlson appears to have...

19th Century Billiards Sleuthing from a Baseball Historian

Two photos. One mystery. The man with the crew cut on the right is Mike Tiernan, a famous 19th Century outfielder. But who is the bearded fellow on the left? Baseball historian Tom Shieber, the man behind the Baseball Researcher blog, recently stumbled across these two photos in the  digital archives of the New York Public Library.  Tiernan was identified as the man in both photos. According to...
From The Hamper to The Nice Chap: The History of Sharking

From The Hamper to The Nice Chap: The History of Sharking

Pool, as is noted in this great Sports Illustrated article that I’ve just stumbled across, involves sustained waiting. “When one player is at the table, there is nothing his opponent can do except sit and hope that he misses,” wrote Robert Coughlan in the April 4, 1955 edition.  “The player at the table, on the other hand, knowing that a miss will give his opponent a...
Alfredo de Oro: Pool Great Overshadowed by Greenleaf

Alfredo de Oro: Pool Great Overshadowed by Greenleaf

If you’ve been following along lately, you know we’ve had on-gain off-again discussions here about the greatest pool players in American history. Several months ago we conducted a poll on the issue.  Willie Mosconi and Ralph Greenleaf received the most votes, which prompted a run-off. The voting is still open on the question. You can find the ballot on the panel at right. But...

Master Class Sharking: The Alfredo De Oro Bladder Technique

The Alfredo De Oro Bladder Technique I wrote an essay sometime back in which I listed some of the most popular sharking techniques in history. Somehow I neglected to mention one of my favorites. During the 1936 World Billiards Tournament, when Alfredo De Oro was 71 years old, the Cuban master found himself matched up against the legendary Welker Cochran. Cochran was then at the top of his game....