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 installment I’ve listed 10 dead guys who are not in the Hall of Fame but who I think 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.
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.
2. James Evans (1894-1972)
A fixture of the Harlem Renaissance, Evans was the nation’s greatest African-American player during the 1920s and 1930s and commonly referred to then as the “Colored Champion of the World.” Because of race discrimination, however, Evans was barred from competing for national and world titles.
4. Johnny “Rags” Fitzpatrick (1918-1960)
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.
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. That’s George and Paulie Jansco in the above image, with Eddie Taylor in the center.
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.