Who Was The Best Ever with A Pool Stick?

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The best ever to wield a pool stick? Mosconi? Reyes? Greenleaf?. Photo (c) 2008 Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Who is the best to ever wield a pool stick? Is there a clear way to determine the best at the sport?

One way to sift between the greats is to compare record achievements at Straight Pool. Straight Pool allows for more and more balls to be sunk with a pool stick, the pressure increasing as the run goes on.

There are players who can run 100 balls without a miss in one at Straight Pool almost every day of the week, but few have surpassed the 200 mark and fewer still have ever reached 300. Shooting in 14 balls then using the 15th of the rack for the next break and run means that it took 31-plus racks without missing to tally 300 points.

Those Who Have Hit That 300-Plus Mark 

Mike "Captain Hook" Sigel enjoyed a hi-run of 339. As he put it, "I set my favorite practice break shot at home and kind of fell into the zone..."

The always courteous and gentlemanly Nick "The Kentucky Colonel" Varner has also run over 330 balls. And I'm sure you can guess how John "Mr. 400" Schmidt earned his nickname. He's run more than 400 on two separate occasions. Steve Mizerak, aka "The Machine," topped all the above before he passed away with a 421 high mark.

And yes, Willie "The Mosc" Mosconi's exhibition of 526 balls in a row without a miss may never be equaled, although he ran on the smaller 4' x 8' table. Manufacturers have tightened the pockets against this kind of scoring over the years. If you're agape at the thought of Willie running more than 37½ racks while you watch, consider the rumors as documented in R.A. Dyer's marvelous volume, The Hustler & The Champ: Willie Mosconi, Minnesota Fats, and the Rivalry that Defined Pool. Willie had scored runs in the 600s and even into the 700s and beyond at home. 

"Be Like Mike [Jordan]?" Be Like Willie, If You Can!

Think you can break Willie's banked record? Mosconi's contract with giant manufacturer Brunswick allowed him to practice for a stretch of 30 years for 7 hours a day after he was already the best player on the planet

It's all settled then, right? Willie is the best ever with a pool stick in his hand. Not so fast.

It may seem that way until you learn that he singled out his former touring partner Ralph "The Aristocrat" Greenleaf as being the best. You may never even have heard of Greenleaf because he reigned as a pool champ through the 1920s and 1930s. 

Tournament pool, if not pool hustling, is closely monitored today by Accu-Stats and other less formal organizations. The goal is to compile an awesome array of statistics that define pool's best. Many would push aside Greenleaf and Mosconi for modern players like Efren Reyes, but Greenleaf and Mosconi could do things that no one can duplicate today. 

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