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The Mosconi-Greenleaf Question

In 1933, Mosconi made his first real run at the world championship.

And Mr. Mosconi

William Mosconi was born on June 27, 1913 in Philadelphia. Like Greenleaf, Mosconi was the son of a poolroom owner, had early access to a table, showed great promise before the age of 10, and had a father who prodded and pushed him into the sport. Willie's first exposure to the game came during his late-night forays into his father's four-table poolroom, which was located directly below the family home. In his biography, Mosconi says he would literally climb barefoot down a rain pipe to raid the candy counter in the little room after it closed.

Joseph Mosconi, Willie's father, began to organize exhibition matches for the boy after coming to realize how much talent he had. One pitted young Willie against Ruth McGinnis, the legendary female player. Another pitted him against Greenleaf himself. At the time, Willie was 7 years old and Greenleaf was 19 or 20. Greenleaf won by just four points, although I suspect he was going easy on the boy.

Mosconi won his first world tournament in 1941, and then won more in 1942, 1944-1948, 1950-1953, 1955 and 1956. In 1957 Mosconi was incapacitated by a stroke (or something very much like one - his daughter described it as a "temporary ischemic attack") that paralyzed the left side of his body. Mosconi eventually returned to the game, but never again regained the championship. He came close during a tournament in Burbank, Calif. - but ended up falling short.


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