The legendary promoters were posthumously honored with 2019 BCA Hall of Fame induction.

By R.A. Dyer

It was in a nothing poolroom 300 miles from nowhere, a nothing poolroom with concrete walls, bleachers and overshot with the mingled odors of beer, cigarettes and desperation. For respectable pool players, the 1961 tournament at Johnston City’s too-hopefully named “Show Bar” must have felt like the end of hope, a tournament where players not only come to lose, but go to hide.

But perceptions deceive.

From left, R.A. Dyer, Paulie Jansco granddaughter Amy Burgess and Billiards Digest publisher Mike Panozzo, at the 2019 BCA Hall of Fame Dinner, in Norfolk, Virginia.

In November, the brothers who built that middle-of-nowhere beer shed, who gradually expanded it into a grander venue for pool competition and who shepherded that competition into the national spotlight were posthumously inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame. These brothers, Paulie and George Jansco, were represented at the ceremony by Paulie’s granddaughter, Amy Burgess.

Beyond producing the legendary Hustlers All-Around Championships, the Janscos from their little corner of southern Illinois transformed our sport. Hustlers and tournament players, the media and the public — all descended upon Johnston City throughout the 1960s, a decade corresponding almost precisely with a pool renaissance the Janscos helped foment and define.

I lobbied for years to get the Janscos into the BCA Hall of Fame and I was beyond honored to introduce the award in Norfolk, Virginia. That’s a video of my remarks, just below. (Unfortunately the video cuts off right before Paulie’s granddaughter, Amy Burgess, speaks). You also can find my article about the Janscos that I wrote for Billiards Digest here.

Professional player Alex Pagulayan and table manufacturer Greg Sullivan also were honored during the Nov. 1 ceremony. You can read more about their contributions here.