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Strickland's Hall of Fame Speech Filled With "Pearls"
Apr 10, 2006, 3:11 PM

"Where are my friends?" demanded Earl Strickland, discussing the lack of respect given to pool players by professional athletes in other sports during his acceptance speech as the 50th inductee of the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.

The fact is, Strickland was surrounded by friends during the well-attended induction banquet held on April 6, 2006 in conjunction with the BCA International Billiard & Home Recreation Expo in Houston.

Earl was introduced by longtime sponsors Janet Shimel, CEO of J-S Sales Company, Inc., and Lou Sardo, of Lou Sardo Products. Both shared stories of the volatile pool legend that were far more "pearly" than surly, and highlighted Strickland's passion for the game.

"His heart is really much bigger than his mouth," Shimel said.

"I have a passion for pool and it still burns and Iím still going to be playing, and Iím starting to get healthier. I had some kidney problems, and some back problems, and some marital problems, and some others. Iíve kind of fallen off the horse in the last few years, but Iím getting over it now, and when I get my game back, you better watch out Johnny [Archer]!" he said.

Strickland's speech was peppered with many "pearls" of his own. "Finally, I have your undivided attention. Thatís all I ever wanted," began the 44-year-old, who has commanded attention in the pool world since his first pro tournament at age 15.

He expressed his desire to continue playing pool for as long as he's capable. "I donít know how much longer I got, to tell you the truth. Pool players live in dog years. When youíre 40, youíre like 80."

Strickland is a five-time winner of the Billiards Digest "Player of the Year" award, and his career highlights include multiple world championships, five U.S. Open titles and nine Team U.S.A. victories at the annual Mosconi Cup. He has also gained the title of "Million-Dollar Man" after he ran an unbelievable 13 racks. Most recently, Earl won the World Pool Masters Trick Shot Challenge in 2003, took fourth at the U.S. Open in September 2005, second at the UPA Atlanta Open in October 2005 and another Mosconi Cup victory in December 2005.

Strickland's bad temper is well-known and documented in the pool community, but he asserts that it always in the name of a deep adoration and reverence for the game. He compared pool to "the worst drug on earth." "I would nearly want to kill someone to play a game. I stole from my own mother to play pool," he admitted to a roaring audience.

His speech took a serious tone, however, when he spoke of his new distinction. "I'm a Hall-of-Famer now, I'll be walking in another pair of shoes."

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