1899 - 1950
Fourteen-time World Pocket Billiard Champion Ralph Greenleaf possessed all the flash and flair of a natural showman. With his beautiful actress wife, Princess Nai Tai Tai, the handsome Greenleaf put together a sparkling trick-shot performance and toured the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s and 30s. The audiences watched him perform his spectacular shots by looking at a huge mirror suspended on stage over the playing table. Greenleaf won his first Pocket Billiard championship in 1919 and his last one in 1937.
"Can't Top Me"
1887 - 1959
Willie Hoppe, whose brilliant career was one of the longest in the annals of the sport, is considered by many to be the greatest all-around billiard player of any era. In 1906, at the tender age of 18, Hoppe won his first world's title by defeating the renowned French champion, Maurice Vignaux, at 18.1 Balkline in a memorable match in Paris. He went on to win the 18.2 Balkline and Cushion Carom titles and years later, between 1936 and 1952, held the Three-Cushion title 11 times.
"Missionary of Billiards"
1880 - 1962
Charlie Peterson earned the title "Missionary of Billiards" for his untiring efforts to promote the game throughout the United States. In addition to being the world's fancy-shot champion and, for years, holder of the Red Ball title, Peterson made scores of personal appearances at colleges and universities across the country and was the guiding spirit of the Intercollegiate and Boys' Clubs of America tournaments. Peterson died at the age of 83, after a life devoted to winning friends for the sport of billiards.
1896 - 1959
Welker Cochran, a champion who trained for his billiard matches with the same intensity as a professional boxer, won his first of two 18.2 Balkline titles in 1927. He later went on to become the Three-Cushion champion five times in the 1930s and 40s. Like many stars of the sport, Cochran learned the game in his father's billiard establishment, and he became the protigi of Frank Gotch, the wrestler, who sent young Cochran to Chicago to hone his playing talents.
Alfredo de Oro
1862 - 1948
The career of the distinguished Cuban champion Alfredo de Oro encompassed both Three-Cushion and Pocket Billiards and spanned the closing decades of the 19th century and the opening decades of the 20th. De Oro, who served in his country's diplomatic corps, first gained the Pocket Billiard crown in 1887. He was to repeat the achievement 16 times in the next 25 years. De Oro held the Three-Cushion title 10 times from 1908 through 1919. In 1934, at the age of 71, de Oro came out of retirement for a Championship Tournament, winning two dramatic victories from defending champion Welker Cochran and the ultimate winner of the tournament, Johnny Layton.
1895 - 1963
Ben Nartzik will always be remembered for his tireless crusade to revive billiards from its severe doldrums in the 1950s. Nartzik deserves a lion's share of the credit for ridding the game of its "pool hall" image and re-establishing its status as a "gentleman's sport." Under his leadership, the BCA was able to help both the Boys Club of America and the Association of College Unions to organize billiard programs and run successful annual tournaments. Nartzik recognized the potential of the industry and bought the National Billiard Chalk Co. of Chicago.
"Mr. Pocket Billiards"
1913 - 1993
For most people, the name Willie Mosconi and the sport of Pocket Billiards are synonymous. And rightly so, since from 1940 to 1957 Mosconi had a near-stranglehold on the World Title, winning it 15 times in that period. Born in Philadelphia in 1913, Willie was a prodigy with the cue by the age of seven. At 20, he embarked on a hectic cross-country exhibition tour with his idol, Ralph Greenleaf, then World Champ and at the height of his game. The result, 57 wins for Greenleaf, an amazing 50 wins for the young Mosconi. One of the most astounding of Mosconi's many records is his yet-unbroken exhibition high run of 526 balls!
Jake Schaefer Sr.
1855 - 1910
Jake Schaefer, Sr., "A player whose super-brilliance with a billiard cue won for him the sobriquet of "Wizard." So ran the lead of a 1909 newspaper article singing the praises of Jake Schaefer, Sr. From the last quarter of the 19th century through the first decade of the 20th, Schaefer, Sr. was one of the most feared names in Balkline Billiards. Derivations of the game were invented just to stymie his genius - all unsuccessfully. He traveled throughout the world winning matches and gathering fans. On March 11, 1908, though desperately ill, he successfully defended his title in his final match for the 18.1 championship against Willie Hoppe by a score of 500 to 423.
Jake Schaefer Jr.
1894 - 1975
Billiard historians generally rank Jake Schaefer, Jr. as the greatest of the American Balkline players. He was the world champion at 18.2 in 1921, 1925, 1926, 1927, and 1929-1933. He held the 18.1 honors in 1926-1927 and the 28.2 title in 1937-1938. At the 18.2 game, he holds four records which have never been equaled in this country: best game average, 400 (from the break); grand average, tournament, 57.14; grand average, match, 93.25; high run, match, 432.