View Full Version : Hall of Fame Dinner '09

10-23-2009, 05:33 AM
I haven't gone to the US Open in a few years as I already go to too many events. But, this was the first year that the Hall of Fame Induction was being held at the US Open and this was my first year of eligibility to have the honor to vote, so going to the Open was a relatively easy decision for me.

I can't describe how important this event was. The honorees were Allison Fisher and Johnny Archer, both making it in on their first year of eligbility. Several years ago, the BCA Hall of Fame Committee upped the age requirement to 40 yrs old. So, those who hit the history books to point out Mizerak, Sigel and Balukas, your question is answered.

Although I've been a fan for a zillion years, I only caught the very tail end of the Jean Balukas era. I was fortunate to see much of the Sigel/Strickland/Varner/Hall era, but not the beginning. So, for me to get to vote for and watch Johnny Archer get in is special beyond words. I have been a fan of pool his entire professional career. So, I got to watch a future Hall of Famer develop into the Player of the Decade of the 90's and continue to be one of America's leading player. The top two players of their generation got inducted last night. I'm honored to have been a small part in it.

From the main table, Deno Andrews gave the introduction speech to his close friend Allison Fisher. Kim Davenport introduced Johnny Archer, his best friend and business partner. Sitting with Johnny and Kim was Nick Varner, longtime friend of Johnny Archer and now business partner as well. On Allison's side was the legendary Jean Balukas. For history hounds, the site of these two close friends and the two greatest players the women's game has ever known sitting next to each other yucking it up is simply priceless. There should be several photos on the net in the next few days.

Both inductees were nervous to start with on their opening speeches, but came on strong with their congratulations to each other, thanks to their friends and family for support, and overall graciousness to the fans, the BCA, and the billiard media for the support of the sport. There were a lot of eye opening stories, and plenty of shed tears. Prior to each inductee's intro, a video of Barry Hearn giving a congratulatory speech was shown. For Allison, he talked about watching her grow up as a snooker player, and predicting her getting slaughtered in pool due to her early attempts at it (Allison played the Mosconi Cup and didn't win a game). He also gave Johnny Archer the hot-off-the-press news that Johnny is the first US player selected for this year's Mosconi Cup, an honor Johnny Archer holds above all others aside from the US Open Championship.

Mike Panozzo of Billiards Digest and head of the US Billiard Media Association ( http://www.usbma.com) really made last night's event happen. With the support of the BCA and Barry Behrman, showcasing the Hall of Fame was the right thing to do. No other tournament has the history of the sport, and the Hall of Fame is all about preserving that history. There were something in the neighborhood of 300 people in attendance in the same convention room that used to house the finals of the tournament. Overall, despite a few media snafus (ironic as the event is held by the Billiard Media Association) the dinner and ceremony was a great success attended by a lot of people. This should help to lead this into an annual event associated with the US Open and further give players and fans an education and reminder of the history of the game.

See you all next year,

Fred Agnir

P.S. I got to sit next to Jim Wych all evening. We discussed, of all things... pool commentary! Very enlightening!

10-23-2009, 08:37 AM
Thanks for sharing your experience. For those of us who couldn't be there, it was a great commentary.

10-23-2009, 10:47 AM
Thank you, nice commentary. Wish I had been there.

Brian in VA
10-25-2009, 12:09 PM
I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a seat at the dinner from my bud JMD in VA. This was a terrific event and I really hope that the decision is made to do the induction at the Open every year.

From my perspective, I was very disappointed in the A/V snafu that started things off. I've done enough public speaking and large group presentations to know that you ALWAYS make sure that stuff works! If it had come off without a hitch, I would have given the content a B+, instead it was a detraction.

The speeches from Allison and Johnny were very different and yet similar. Allison's was beautifully written, and presented wonderfully with grace, dignity and humility. Johhny's was very stream of consciousness and if he'd practiced it, he didn't let on. It was presented like a good old boy with lots of "aw shucks" moments. In other words, they were both perfect.

I look forward to next year, too.

Fred, it was great spending time with you Friday night at ringside!

Brian in VA