View Full Version : Jimmy Caras Passed Away Today
12-03-2002, 06:40 PM
I just received news that Jimmy Caras, 5 time World 14.1 champion, passed away this morning in Jacksonville FL. He would have turned 94 on December 17th.
Jimmy's daughters are going have a service in Jacksonville, and after the Holidays they will have another service in the Northeast simce Jimmy still has some family up this way.
May he rest in peace.
And is probably going after Mosconi et al as I'm typing this.
Barbara~~~very, very sad... /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif
12-03-2002, 07:08 PM
I am very sad to read this. I knew Jimmy for many years although have not seen him in a long time. He was a very nice as was his wife. In the subculture of the pool world he was a true celebrity, yet always humble and approachable by anyone. It is a shame that many of today's fans never had the privilege of seeing him play.
12-03-2002, 07:23 PM
Thanks for the post, Im so sorry for Jimmys family.
He was here once to see Bob play in Petes tournament, what a great man. I will pass this on to Pete. Im sure Bob is hurting now,i sent him an email from all of us here at the pool room.
12-03-2002, 07:32 PM
I am saddened by the news.May his soul rest in peace.
12-03-2002, 10:14 PM
I met Jimmy through my Dad. When my Dad found out I was playing pool, he told me he knew Jimmy Caras and would I like to meet him? Yeah, right! So I show up at my Dad's house and guess who's with him??!!
Jimmy taught me how to draw the ball that night. (This was 1995) He also taught me a few shots, which I documented, along with a couple trick shots (from his book that I swiped from Dad's pool room a year earlier).
When it came time for us to all go home I asked Jimmy if he was available for lessons. He said yes and gave me his phone number and when I asked him what his price was, he quoted me $20!! Yeah, talk about humble. Here was a 5-time World Champion just helping out a fledgling pool player. I was wowed!!
So I went to Drexeline to meet up with him on the Saturdays that I could and learned more shots from him. He told me that he didn't think I practiced them because they were almost low percentage shots, but worthy of practice. Oh yes I did, Jimmy, and I still do! They may not come up all that often, but when they do, I know them!!
Barbara~~~Joe T's practice book has 3 variations on one of the shots Jimmy taught me... /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
12-03-2002, 10:27 PM
One time Mike Fusco (Rt 73/NJ - where Willie Mosconi hung out in his later years) had an exhibition with Bob Maidhof vs Jimmy Fusco. Jimmy Caras was there and I went there to see the action. It was a 14.1 match, race to 150. It was a couple months after we had first met at my Dad's, so I wanted to see him again and tell him about my progress. Boy did he remember all that we worked on!! Jimmy was about 85/86 yrs old at the time and what a steel trap for a mind he had! We talked about the differences between 14.1 and 9-ball and how he made money at 9-ball but the true game for talent was 14.1.
Anyway, Jimmy Fusco and Bob are having a marathon match. Jimmy Caras is noting that Bob is in 9-ball stroke and not 14.1 stroke. The match is in the low 30s for both and it's 45 minutes into the game. This is when Jimmy tells me, "If this was me and Mosconi, the match would've been over 20 minutes ago and we would've been outta here."
So Bob gets into his straight pool stroke and goes 70-something and out to win.
Jimmy had a steel trap for a mind. Could always remember the details and the names. God bless him.
12-03-2002, 10:27 PM
12-03-2002, 10:33 PM
God, the biggest stakehorse in the world, needed a player to back so he brought Mr. Caras home.
God bless the gentleman and his legend. My prayers tonight will include his family and friends.
12-03-2002, 11:05 PM
Barbara...A true champion, and a TRUE gentleman...something Mosconi was NOT! He will be sorely missed! Rest in peace, Jimmy!
12-04-2002, 02:30 AM
Very sad day indeed.
My sympathy to Jimmy's family.
C.C.~~another legend taken from us, is a very sad day for all.
12-04-2002, 05:25 AM
Barbara, I must confess that I am one that knows very little about this man. But, from your past posts, I have learned that, in addition to being a good pool player, he was a very nice man and he meant a lot to you.
I am sorry for your loss.
12-04-2002, 05:42 AM
I met Jimmy Caras at the finals of a senior event held in Tulsa at Magoo's. The host of the tournament had set up a recliner for Jimmy so he could watch the match. Super nice man who told many stories to everyone around. He signed autographs and really seemed to enjoy the atmosphere. RIP.
12-04-2002, 07:43 AM
I first met Jimmy Caras at an exhibition in Schenectady in the early 60s. I mentioned I was a friend of Joe Cantons and Jimmy took time to remember the old days of pool.
The next time was the 1967 US Open in Lansing,MI. Jimmy after losing his first game went to win 11 straight games and the Title. Truly a remarkable comeback for an old man of 58. Jimmy hadn't played in any of the Worlds Championships that were being held in NYC and was thought to be just an exhibition player but he showed them.
My prayers to his family.####
12-04-2002, 08:03 AM
So sorry to hear of the passing of your friend. I'm certain that his tutelage of you and your friendship gave him great pleasure.
Here's some pics.
There's a link to the NY Times article also but I didn't take time to set up an account etc. Maybe somebody can copy and paste it. I will if I have time.
12-04-2002, 09:30 AM
I only knew him from a distance, seeing him playing in the Philly area. He had a good reputation and alot of respect. Sounds like he lived a good long life, God bless.
12-04-2002, 10:04 AM
Around 1970 Jimmy did an exhibition at U of M in Miami Florida. We hooked up at the old Congress billiards and I drove him over there, his wife did not want to go. He told me he was playing pretty good and wanted to play a 100 point match during the show. He asked if they didn't have any players would I mind playing. I said sure, they did have a kid who played pretty good so I was off the hook. The table they were to play on had new cloth and it was so slow you could not get the rack open after the break shot. It was impossible to run 30 balls. After the match Jimmy said he was sorry he did not play better, (Never mentioning how bad the table played). Let me tell you, Mosconi would not have even played and would have stormed out. After the exhibition he sat around BSing with the students and talking pool. They had a snack bar there and they treated us to some food. We stayed around the student billiard room till 8 o'clock that night playing and talking with the kids. I am sure the kids that love pool and were there still talk about the day they spent with Jimmy Caras. I really enjoyed writing this little story and remembering my friend. I hope there are a few other older players that may have some remembrances of him they can share.
12-04-2002, 10:24 AM
Michael Jordan, age 38, may have never heard of Jimmy Caras, age 92, but they have more in common than one might, at a glance, imagine.
Caras was a world champion pocket billiards player, one of the legends of his profession, along with Willie Mosconi, Luther Lassiter and Irving Crane. Michael Jeffrey Jordan, it may be recalled, made a name for himself in basketball. Every day now, Caras, short, stocky, baldish, wearing glasses and suspenders, his Billiards Hall of Fame ring and one of his five world championship rings sparkling on his fingers, leaves the house in Jacksonville, Fla., where he lives with his daughter and son-in-law, and climbs into his white Cadillac.
He drives the half-mile or so to Harley's Rack N Cue on Cesery Boulevard, where he just socializes and on occasion can still "run a couple of racks," as he said. "But the knees give out after about 20 minutes."
But we're getting ahead of the story. Back, for the moment, to Jordan.
"I read the papers," Jordan was telling friends recently. "Some of these young guys are saying that they could get the best of me. I read where DerMarr Johnson said he'd beat me on the crossover dribble and dunk on me. DerMarr Johnson! You gotta be kidding. I'm gonna look for DerMarr Johnson if I come back."
Johnson is a 6-foot-9, 21-year-old guard for the Atlanta Hawks who played limited minutes and averaged 5.1 points as a rookie this season. Yet he is one of the reasons Jordan, who left the N.B.A. in 1998, is seriously contemplating his second comeback (his first was in 1995).
When Jordan was playing minor league baseball after his first hoops retirement, he said the only reason he would ever return to basketball was "to show some of the young guys" that he was still, as the motto on his North Carolina license plates reads, "First in Flight."
Most athletes who have come out of retirement &#8212; most notably boxers &#8212; have done so for the money. Jordan, whose bank account may rival the Sultan of Brunei's, doesn't need the petty cash. Nor did Caras when, in 1967, after having been away from competition for 12 years, he returned to play in the prestigious United States Open, the equivalent of the world championship.
"I came out of retirement because young people were always asking me if I could beat the current top players," he said. "I told them I could. But they were skeptical."
Caras, working for the Brunswick sporting goods company, had been playing in as many as 250 exhibitions a year around the country. "I felt I was in good playing shape because you had to play good every day," he said. "If not, the audience would think: `World champion? He's a bum and a fraud.' "
Caras could also be tested in other ways, like the time he sat in the corner of a pool hall in Millville, N.J., waiting for the proprietor, a longtime friend. A jaunty youth came by. "Hey, mister, wanna play nine-ball?" he said to Caras. "Buck a game. I'm the best in town, but I'll take it easy on you."
After repeated urgings, Caras complied. He began dropping balls as quickly and as casually as a productive hen plops eggs. The kid, disbelieving, said, "One more game" and one more. Caras beat the kid 18 straight games, then gave the money back. When told who Caras was, the kid said, "Who?"
"Why did you pick on me?" Caras asked.
"Well," the kid replied, "you just looked like a sucker."
Caras grew up in Wilmington, Del., where his father owned a pool hall. His father set up games for money between Jimmy and anyone else. "I'd come home from high school with books under my arm," Caras recalled. "I'd walk in and Dad would say, `I want you to play someone for $100.' One time he lined up this $100 match and I peeked in the cash register and saw only $35. I said, `Dad, what if I lose?' He said, `You won't lose.' Talk about pressure."
At the '67 Open at age 59 in the Jefferson Hotel ballroom in St. Louis, Caras lost a game early, then won 11 straight, beating Lassiter in the final, to win the title.
Caras played a few more Opens, finishing in the top 10, but never won again.
Jordan, meanwhile, has been seen playing in pickup games around the country, honing his game.
"Basketball is harder than pool, more physical," Caras said. "But I can understand Jordan's motivation. When you're a competitor, you hate to give it up."
Caras doesn't play games anymore. "I can beat the average person, but you're under tension and strain," he said. "What do I need it for?"
Jordan may soon have to answer that question for himself.
12-04-2002, 10:34 AM
I never met Jimmy but thanks to you I felt I had some connection and feel for him. I hope you're right about him and Willie and I hope he runs out forever.I'm sorry for his passing but look back with great joy, you sure were blessed to have been part of the life of a truly great person, as was he.Think of him often with a smile.
I'm sorry to hear of his passing. I only watched the man play once in his later years and never had the pleasure to meet him. May he rest in peace.
12-04-2002, 11:39 AM
That's exactly how Jimmy was day in and day out! He would talk with you for hours about anything and everything, but especially about pool. And in all those stories of all those matches he played, he never said a cross word about any of his opponents.
He had the most amazing memory. It was his body that gave out on him.
12-04-2002, 11:43 AM
You know the shot I'm talking about, right? Hit the OB on the rail with high inside english and send the CB three rails for position.
When this drill came up when I was up at Snooker's with you, I said, "Hey!! I know this shot!!".
Say hi to Becks for me!!
Barbara~~~she OWNS that shot... /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
12-04-2002, 04:39 PM
That was one of his best tournaments. He came through the loser's side undefeated after losing to Wimpy in the first round. Still has a BCA record or two from that one.
And, as I recall, he had to beat Wimpy twice in the finals, true?
12-04-2002, 05:54 PM
Nice story regarding Caras. I did want to point out however that comparing Michael Jordan's net worth (high estimate at $400 million) is 100 times smaller than the Sultan of Brunei's net worth, which is estimated at $40 BILLION !! MJ is certainly extremely wealthy, but his bank account doesn't stack up to the Sultan's !!
Investing $40 billion at 5% annual interest would give you $5.5 million PER DAY to spend without touching the $40 billion. As much as my wife likes to shop, she would have a real tough time spending $5.5 million per day !!
12-05-2002, 07:46 AM
Barb in those days it was double elimination and they meant it. Tv made it single elimination when the event was televised. Jimmy was in the BCA hospitality room every evening that I remember.
The only drawback was it was the worst refereed tournament that I ever played in. Players used to playing obvious shots without calling the ball were having their turn at the table taken away if the ref called 5 and the player shot the 6 and didn't correct the ref. I played a combination into a ball blocking the pocket and the ref called the ball I hit even though it couldn't go in the pocket. I never paid attention to the call and it was Cisero Murphys shot. I said Cisero your not going to take that are you. You know there was no way I was playing anythng but the ball in the pocket. He just smiled and proceeded to play. ####
12-05-2002, 09:07 AM
This looks like a cool site
Jimmy Caras " Trick and Fancy Shots in Pocket Billiards Made Easy by Jimmy Caras" 73 pages with nearly 60 trick shots
1948-1966 by James S Caras 241 Hemlock Lane Springfield, Penna
Library of Congress # A 94775
......It was a real honor when the Berbeck Twins hired me to do an exhibition at their dinner show when Willie Mosconi and Jimmy Caras played their last straight pool match against one another. I had done a few exhibitions with Mosconi prior to this occasion and Jimmy Caras did an exhibition at the first 9-Ball tournament I won at the Tulsa Oklahoma State fair in 1971. After the tournament, Jimmy Caras complimented me on my play. That meant a lot to me at the time, because at that time in my life all I had ever done was hustle. I realized years later that I gained a lot more self respect by playing in tournaments than I did in hustling............
12-05-2002, 09:52 AM
I think the hardest game to referee is a 14.1 match. You really have to have your wits about you to keep track of the runs. Plus the rules. Now, I've never been to a professional 14.1 with a ref at each table, but when Mike Fusco had his exhibitions he would ref over the match. Not only would he call the ball but he would also announce the total in the run after the ball was made. Very impressive when done right. Quite the disaster when is isn't.
12-06-2002, 09:16 AM
I remember watching Jimmy Caras on television when I was younger and was amazed at his ability and personablity with the game of pool and its fans. This is truly a legend lost.
12-06-2002, 12:12 PM
Mr. James Caras passed away on December 3, 2002. There will be a memorial service on Saturday, December 7 at 11:00 a.m at Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home. 6940 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32211
Mr. Caras, born in 1910 in Scranton, PA, won his first world championship in 1936 and also won world championships in 1938, 1939 and 1949. In 1967, he won the U.S. Open in a field of 48 players. His record of "most balls", "most games won" and "fewest innings by a champion" still stand in the record book for that size field. Mr. Caras was inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in 1977.
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12-06-2002, 01:31 PM
You know Wally, they were always wrong about his birth year. Plus, in the past few years after he moved to Jax, the BCA kind of ignored Jimmy. They never did send a card or anything when he had a series of small strokes last year. Jimmy was one of their best representatives and the BCA treated him badly.
12-06-2002, 03:04 PM
You know, that's the problem in our part of the world, we're in today. They don't recognize the contributions of the players, until it's too late. We the fans do though. So, these organizations that represent us need to listen to, what we have to say. If they claim to work in our behalf then, let these people know how we feel when they're around to hear it. IMHO
C.C.~~feels for your loss of your friend and the loss for our sport.
12-07-2002, 08:53 PM
I met him at the convention in vegas about 6 or 7 years ago. I had my wife with me and i asked him if i could take a picture with him, he said"Sure". So my wife took the picture and i thanked him and was about to leave and he grabbed me by the arm and said " Wait a minute, take a picture of me with your wife " I said sure and he put his arm around her and i took the picture and he laughed and said " I always like to take pictures with the girls "
We all laughed, I liked the man and am sorry i never go to see him in his prime.
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