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WILLIE'S GAME by Willie Mosconi


An Autobiography of Willie Mosconi

by Willie Mosconi & Stanley Cohen

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-587495-0
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

 Likable, well-told autobiography of the world's greatest pocket billiards player, full of superb billiard lore and tales of giants of the cue. Even those who have never played pool will enjoy this engaging story of a Philadelphia billiards prodigy who was playing for stakes at age six and who, a year later, challenged (but lost to) then-World Champion Ralph Greenleaf. Mosconi (writing here with Cohen, A Magic Summer, 1988, etc.) heard billiard balls clicking in earliest childhood, the sound coming from tables in his father's pool hall below the boy's bedroom, and at age five began playing while standing on a box. Though his father tried to deny him access to the tables, Mosconi unveiled a talent so great that his stunned dad began showing the kid off in matches at his and other pool halls. At age seven, Mosconi defeated ten-year-old Juvenile Champion Ruth McGinnis, and, when he turned ten himself, retired undefeated. When the Depression hit, Mosconi reentered the sport for prize money, soon learning that tournament masters had an analytic sense of the game far superior to that of pool hustlers out to con inferior players. Mosconi himself never hustled--though, as a joke, Toots Shor once brought him in to beat braggart Jackie Gleason, who didn't know Mosconi by sight. The author commended Gleason to director Robert Rossen to play Minnesota Fats in The Hustler, for which Mosconi acted as technical adviser and as Paul Newman's trainer. Many legendary games are replayed here as Mosconi shows--quite modestly--how his fast, nervous style won the World Championship 15 times and at last crushed the real-life Minnesota Fats on TV's Wide World of Sports. You're on the green felt, kissing a solid-colored ball into a side pocket and stopping on a dime, positioned perfectly for the next ball. Marvelous. (Photographs--not seen)