View Full Version : His tricks are a treat (a Mike Massey article)

12-14-2004, 04:02 PM
His tricks are a treat
Pro overcomes rough past to achieve fame in billiards

By DAVID FILKINS, Staff writer
First published: Tuesday, December 14, 2004

LATHAM -- While driving in his car Monday afternoon, Mike Massey received the phone call most billiard enthusiasts only dream of getting. He had been named to the sport's Hall of Fame. Not bad for a man whose future was dimmer than pool hall lighting for many years.

Massey used to wander the country, hustling in bars and casinos for his only source of income. On a few occasions, his victims later put guns to his head, demanding their money back and threatening his life. He once had $5,000 stolen from him -- by a police officer.

The most trying time for the 57-year-old Tennessee native came in Denver in 1970. He was hustling in a bar and had a large dose of LSD slipped into his drink. Not only did he lose his money, he nearly lost his mind. For the next two years he thought he was dead. He heard voices, wandered railroad tracks while talking to himself out loud and couldn't identify members of his own family.

Massey's life story reads like a fiction novel. Fitting then, that his profession is as unusual as his past. Massey is a professional trick shot pool player. He has traveled more than 3 million miles and visited 35 countries putting on demonstrations and entering competitions.

His path led to upstate New York on Monday night, where the "Tennessee Tarzan" put on a demonstration at Diamond Eight Billiards in Latham.

Of the 100 or so in attendance, 29-year-old Albany resident Aaron O'Connor found out first hand that Massey possesses more than just trick shot magic. O'Connor practices 9-ball more than 20 hours per week. He once defeated professional pool player Tom Rossman and considers himself a student of the game.

Massey defeated him in nine shots.

"I thought if I could break and make a run out I would be OK," O'Connor said. "But I missed, and I knew I was in trouble. Mike Massey is awesome, it was an incredible experience either way."

Massey was the national 9-ball champion in 1982. He has won professional tournaments in straight pool, 8-ball, snooker and one pocket. He turned to trick shot pool while putting on demonstrations at detention centers, senior homes and prisons.

His second career proved more successful than his first. Massey is a three-time world artistic pool champion and has won the ESPN Trick Shot Magic championship four times since its inception five years ago. He has been on television 80 hours this year alone.

"My faith has guided me. God has blessed me with talent and ability," said Massey, a devout Christian. "When things were bad (from the LSD) it was worse than hell. When you see people wandering and talking to themselves, they have it good compared to how I was. I was in terrible physical and mental shape. God pulled me out of it."

Some of the shots Massey made Monday night could only be explained by divine intervention. He pocketed 10 balls on one shot, caused the ball to curve in unexplainable ways and displayed pinpoint accuracy, shooting the ball off the table and into a cowboy boot 12 feet away. For added difficulty, he made the shot one-handed.

"Mike Massey is top-notch; he's a world champion," said Frank Majewski, a billiard instructor and manager at Diamond Eight. "He is absolutely one of a kind. Very few players can master every aspect of the game like he has."

Massey has expanded his horizons beyond the pool hall. He's the author of "Mike Massey's World of Trick Shots," and has appeared in five movies.

He recently met Paul Newman, who appeared in two of the most famous billiard movies ever, "The Hustler," and "The Color of Money." Massey got an autographed DVD and said he had a pleasant meeting with the man who mirrored his life on film.

But from the way Massey has shredded adversity and devoured his foes, the pool shark seems more like "Jaws" than anything.

David Filkins can be reached at 454-5482 or by e-mail at dfilkins@timesunion.com
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=314165&category=SPORTS&BCCode=&n ewsdate=12/14/2004&tacodalogin=no

12-14-2004, 04:42 PM
That article was right on. I can't believe you read it down there. was it published in a local paper in NC. I live only about 15 minutes from where he was last night. It was unfortunate that i did not get to see mike last night due to family commitments. I have met mike a dozen times and although he don't or might not know me by name, if he saw me he would know me. we have talked several times and always consider it a treat when we talk. So if you ever get the chance to see mike or talk with him it will be your pleasure i assure you...........................mike