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Larry Hubbart Passes

hubbart_bigFormer world champion, American Poolplayers Association co-founder and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Larry “Iceman” Hubbart passed away Thursday, Aug. 22, at his home in St. Louis after a lengthy illness. Hubbart was 72.

Hubbart, born in the pool hotbed of Rochester, N.Y., which also produced Hall of Famers Irving “Deacon” Crane and Mike Sigel, was one of the game’s top players in the mid-’70s and early ’80s. He was also considered one of the fiercest road players in the country

During a time in which Hall of Fame players like Sigel, Steve Mizerak, Buddy Hall, Allen Hopkins were at the top of their games, Hubbart was always a serious threat, winning the 1975 National 9-Ball Championship, the U.S. Open 8-Ball Championship and 9-Ball Tournament of Champions in ’76, the World Open 9-Ball in 1997 and the Akron Open in 1980. His last big win was in 1983 when he captured Sid Mann’s Texas River City Open.

Ironically, Hubbart’s greatest accomplishment in pool came not in an action match or at a tournament, but as a businessman. In 1979, Hubbart and fellow player Terry Bell approached Anheuser-Busch with a proposal to launch a national amateur pool league. What began as the Busch Pool League took root, and within 10 years Hubbart and Bell’s American Poolplayers Association topped the 100,000 mark in player membership. Today the APA boasts nearly 300,000 members, nearly 300 franchise holders, and competes in more than 8,000 locations in 46 states.

In 2010, Hubbart and Bell were inducted into the Meritorious Service wing of the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame. It was Hubbart’s last public appearance, as he spent the final three years of his life confined to a bed.

“I still maintain that Larry Hubbart should be in the Greatest Players wing of the Hall of Fame as well,” offered Bell. “None of the players from his era who are in the Hall of Fame wanted any part of playing Larry.”

Hubbart is survived by his wife of 38 years, Nancy, and six children.

Black Widow & Barry Hearn BCA HOF Bound

Jeanette Lee

Jeanette Lee

Broomfield, Colo., August 21, 2013 — The Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame is honored to welcome two of pool’s most media-savvy personalities in 2013. The United States Billiard Media Association today announced that women’s champion Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee and British promoter Barry Hearn have earned induction into the sport’s hall of fame by becoming the 61st and 62nd members.

Lee, 41, will enter the Greatest Players wing of the BCA Hall of Fame, while Hearn, 65, will be honored for Meritorious Service. Both will be formally inducted during ceremonies on December 2, 2013, at the Mirage Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.

In the closest Hall of Fame voting ever, Lee edged Finnish star Mika Immonen in a special runoff election. The two champions were tied after the initial ballots were submitted. In the runoff, Lee and Immonen went head to head, where Lee surpassed her male contemporary by just two votes.

Van Boening Tops at Super Billiards Expo

Van Boening repeats as champion with an 8-4 win over Thorstan Hohmann in the final's third set.

Van Boening repeats as champion with an 8-4 win over Thorstan Hohmann in the final’s third set.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Allen Hopkins moved the 2013 Super Billiards Expo from the Philadelphia area to Edison, N.J., just outside of New York City. The April 4-7 consumer trade show that boasts a host of amateur and professional events also saw the Pro Players 10-Ball Championship switch formats — from the usual single-set, double-elimination chart to a single-elimination event that matched players in best-of-three races-to-8.

But with a new venue and new format, the champion remained Shane Van Boening. The reigning Player of the Year took his fourth Pro Players title, and second in a row, with an impressive run through a field of 61.

Starting with wins over Donnie Mills and Robb Saez, Van Beoning then ran into 2011 champ Ralf Souquet. The American dropped the second set, 8-6, but bounced back with a clinching 8-2 set to advance to the quarterfinals.

Souquet was hardly the only big name to be sidelined early. Efren Reyes drew German superstar Thorsten Hohmann in the first round — and the Filipino legend dropped consecutive sets to end an uncharacteristically quick event. Johnny Archer, Francisco Bustamante and Mika Immonen also crashed out before winning two sets.

In the quarterfinals, Van Boening took two close sets against Darren Appleton; Warren Kiamco edged Corey Deuel; Alex Pagulayan thumped Jeremy Sossei, and Hohmann outlasted Scotland’s Jayson Shaw.

In a rematch from the 2003 World Pool Championship, Hohmann took his spot in the final by edging Pagulayan. Van Boening then topped Kiamco in straight sets, 8-6 and 8-5, to take the other seat in the championship match.

Van Boening struck first in the final, taking the opening set, 8-6. He then worked his way to within a 10-ball of the title in the second when he got on the hill, 7-6. But Hohmann responded with a pair of racks to force a decisive third set.

In the final race-to-8, Van Boening turned a 3-2 lead into an insurmountable 7-2 advantage. Hohmann took a pair of racks to edge within shouting distance at 7-4, but Van Boening then broke and ran the 12th table for the 8-4 win.

His second consecutive Pro Players title netted Van Boening $10,000 while Hohmann pocketed $5,000 for his runner-up finish.

Ronnie Allen, 74, Passes Away

Allen accepts his trophy after winning a Stardust 9-ball event in the 1960s.

Allen accepts his trophy after winning a Stardust 9-ball event in the 1960s.

Ronnie Allen, one of the most feared players during pool’s golden era for hustlers in the 1960s and ’70s, passed away on February 6. The one-pocket legend was 74 years old.

For much of the prime of his career, Allen was considered the best one-pocket player on the planet. His major titles include Cochran’s One-Pocket event in 1962, the one-pocket division at the 1970 Johnston City jamboree and Red’s Open One-Pocket in 1984. He also won the 1966 All-Around Championship at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas.

Perhaps the most well-known anecdote concerning his one-pocket prowess, Allen is said to have taken the microphone at one of the Johnston City events in the early ’70s and offered to play anyone, spotting them a 10-8 handicap.

Allen was inducted into the One-Pocket Hall of Fame in 2004

Lee Enters into WPBA Hall of Fame

Lee continues to balance life as a top professional player and personality with a bustling home life. (Photo by Anne Craig)

Lee continues to balance life as a top professional player and personality with a bustling home life. (Photo by Anne Craig)

Last evening, the Women’s Professional Billiard Association inducted Jeanette Lee, known throughout the world as “The Black Widow,” into its Hall of Fame, just prior to the start of this weekend’s WPBA Masters at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Lee, who has won over 30 national and international titles, is currently ranked No. 3 on the WPBA points list.

Taking the sport by storm in the mid-’90s, Lee best year came in 1998 when she was named WPBA Sportsperson of the Year and BD Player of the Year. In 2001, Lee was crowned as the World Games Gold Medalist and continued her success in 2003 by clenching the Tournament of Champions title. As she accumulated tournament victories, Lee quickly ascended to No. 1 in the world.

“Being inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame is one of the greatest honors a player can receive,” said Lee. “It’s a part of history, and to be voted on and recognized in this way by my peers on the tour means so much to me. While I do feel I’ve contributed to this sport, I still want to continue to bring new eyes to the game and help it grow. Thank you to the WPBA and ESPN for giving me the platform to do so, and I thank God, my family, friends, sponsors, past and present, and of course, my fans, for being there through it all.”

As the most recognized face in billiards, Lee has been consistently ranked as one of the most powerful people in the sport by Billiards Digest. Lee is currently working to reclaim her rank as the No. 1 billiards player in the world, all while raising a family of six with her husband, George Breedlove, near Indianapolis, Ind.

Jeanette Lee is a player representative for the American Poolplayers Association, the world’s largest pool league. Among her mentors are the late Gene Nagy, pros Tony Robles, Bob Carman, Jerry Briesath, and Mark Wilson. Said Jeanette, “There are so many others that I have learned from, I want them all to know they were and are appreciated but these names are the ones that I have spent the most time with and really molded my love of the game, in both knowledge, fundamentals and winning attitude!”

DCC 9-Ball: Alex Roars in Final

Pagulayan was all smiles after taking the 9-ball title. (Photo by David Thomson-mediumpool.com)

Pagulayan was all smiles after taking the 9-ball title. (Photo by David Thomson-mediumpool.com)

With three players left in the Derby City Classic’s 9-ball division, Shawn Putnam caught a bit of a break when he received the bye into the final, leaving Mike Dechaine and Alex Pagulayan to play in a de facto semifinal, with both players already having exercised their buy-back options.

Dechaine, fresh off a dominant 9-2 victory over Shane Van Boening, kept pace with Pagulayan. With the 9-ball event extending races to nine racks, a change to meet BCA-mandated specifications for points events, Pagulayan and Dechaine met on the hill, 8-8. Following an exchange of safeties, the Filipino hit a table-length kick on the 1 ball on his way out, securing his spot alongside Putnam.

And while Putnam kept pace with Pagulayan, the Lion proved too much for the 41-year-old American. After Putnam closed to within a rack at 7-6, Pagulayan forced his opponent to foul in each of the next two racks to take the $16,000 title by a final count of 9-6.

With that victory, Pagualayn capped the 15th Derby City Classic where the majority of the big prizes went to the always-formidable Filipino contingent. Francisco Bustamante, winner of the banks division and runner-up to Corey Deuel in one-pocket, took home the $20,000 Master of the Table all-around award. Dennis Orcollo, meanwhile, snapped off the Bigfoot 10-Ball Challenge to pocket the $20,000 first prize.