Cornbread Red, Minnesota Fats and a Johnston City Burn

Cornbread Red, Minnesota Fats and a Johnston City Burn

Old-time hustler was part of pool’s most colorful generation. The autobiography of Minnesota Fats, written with Tom Fox, references Cornbread Red. Billy Burge, better known as “Cornbread Red,” was a famed road player, an expert one-pocket player and a colorful wild man. He was a fixture of “The Rack,” a famed pool hall in Detroit, and a backroom denizen of the...
Almost Forgotten: Rags, Youngblood & Rotation Slim

Almost Forgotten: Rags, Youngblood & Rotation Slim

Along with Cisero Murphy, “Youngblood” Washington, “Rotation Slim” Hairston and “Rags” Woods were among African American players at the early Johnston City events. In case you missed it, George and Paulie Jansco finally received their much-deserved induction into the BCA Hall of Fame back in November 2019. The principle contribution of these two legendary pool promoters was their creation...
The Legendary Cisero Murphy: Trailblazer and Champion

The Legendary Cisero Murphy: Trailblazer and Champion

Brooklyn’s Cisero Murphy smashed through professional pool’s color line. Since we’re all about history here and this month is Black History Month, I think it’s appropriate we take a moment to commemorate the spectacularly talented pool champion who broke through our sport’s color barrier. Cisero Murphy, shown in the video that you can find here, was the first...
Freddy ‘The Beard’ Bentivegna’s Parting Gift for Pool Fans

Freddy ‘The Beard’ Bentivegna’s Parting Gift for Pool Fans

Freddy “The Beard” Bentivegna “The ‘Encyclopedia’ of Pool Hustlers was the final hilarious work by pool writer Freddy ‘The Beard’ Bentivegna. He published the 325-page tome in 2013 and then passed away too soon in June of the following year. He sent me a signed copy, which I still cherish. The book (apparently out of print but you can still find it...
Rare Photo of Ralph Greenleaf’s widow, the Princess Nai Tai Tai

Rare Photo of Ralph Greenleaf’s widow, the Princess Nai Tai Tai

The Bank Shot and Other Great Robberies, by Tom Fox. My long-time friend Karen Fox recently sent me this lovely photo, above, of Amelia Greenleaf, the then-widow of billiard champion Ralph Greenleaf, chatting with Karen’s late husband, Tom Fox. Greenleaf is remembered now as one of the very best pool players in American history. Tom was a successful newspaper columnist and the co-author of...