Legendary OnePocket player Helped Organize First Johnston City Tournament.

Legendary one-pocket player Marshall Carpenter, better known to the pool world as The Tuscaloosa Squirrel, passed away April 5 in his namesake hometown. He was 92.

Marshall “The Tuscaloosa Squirrel” Carpenter, right, with Wimpy Lassiter in Johnston City, Illinois, 1963.

Born Feb. 9, 1928, Carpenter was the last of pool’s great 1960s generation made famous after the Hollywood release of The Hustler. His speciality was one-pocket, and he played it on par with other lions of that era including Jack “Jersey Red” Breit and Eddie “Knoxville Bear” Taylor. Carpenter also matched up with John “Rags” Fitzpatrick, another of the game’s all-time best players.

Squirrel received his nickname as a child because he was fond of selling peanuts in his neighborhood pool hall. He eventually took up the game full-time, graduated into a top player and went on the road.   Freddy “The Beard” Bentivegna, writing in his book “The Encyclopedia of Pool Hustlers,” described Squirrel as one of the highest-rolling of high-rolling pool players during the late ’50s and early ’60s. “I watched Squirrel routinely play for $500 a game in Johnston City (Illinois) in the 1960s — that’s about $3,000 in today’s money,” Bentivegna recalled.


As a road player, Squirrel traveled often in the company of banks specialist Eddie “Knoxville Bear” Taylor, and both became fixtures at the famous Jansco Brothers tournaments in Johnston City. Squirrel helped organize the first one-pocket tournament there in ’61, won the one-pocket division in ’62, and then placed second in that division in 1963. Some of his Johnston City antics were chronicled in my book Hustler Days.

Squirrel continued playing pool at his local room in Tuscaloosa, Alabama until late in life. In 2005 he was inducted into the One-Pocket Hall of Fame.

According to information provided by Steve Booth of onepocket.org, Carpenter is survived by his wife, Judy; his son, Marshall Jr.; his daughter in law, Jenny; and granddaughters, Eleanor and Elizabeth. Memorial services are scheduled for April 10, 2020 at 2 p.m. at Memory Chapel Funeral Home, 2200 Skyland Blvd, E Tuscaloosa, Alabama. However, his family is hoping to hold a celebration of his life once public health restrictions have been lifted.

In lieu of flowers, at the request of his family, donations can be sent to the One Pocket Hall of Fame in his name. Here’s the link.

— R.A. Dyer