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.

“The Miz” Will Be Missed

Billiard legend and Hall-of-Famer Steve Mizerak passed away on May 29, after being hospitalized since January when he was admitted for gall bladder problems. “The Miz” had been in a coma for the past few months, never having fully recovered from a stroke he suffered in 2001. He was 61 years old.

Mizerak was born Oct. 12, 1944 in Perth Amboy, N.J. and became a world champion pool player, dominant during the 1970s and early 1980s in the game of 14.1 continuous. He earned a teaching degree and taught school for 13 years before he gained notoriety for the game of pool. He appeared in a humorous commercial for Miller Lite beer in which he proclaimed that you can “really work up a thirst even when you’re just showing off” and later as an actor in the 1986 film “The Color of Money.”

Mizerak is most famous for winning the U.S. Open 14.1 Pocket Billiards Championship four years in a row from 1970 to 1973. He was also the U.S. Open 9-Ball Champion in 1978. He was inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame 1980 as the youngest member ever and was named the sixth best player of the century by Billiards Digest in 2000.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Mizerak owned and operated pool halls in the West Palm Beach-Lake Park, Fla., area. He founded the “Senior Tour” in 1996 for players 50 years of age and older and often hosted Senior Tour events at his pool hall in Lake Park. Mizerak suffered a stroke in 2001 which left him with physical challenges that prevented him from playing pool competitively. He is survived by his wife Karen, two sons and a stepson.

You can read or post memories of “The Miz” on Billiard Digest’s forum, “the cue chalkboard.”

Mizerak Still Hospitalized After Surgery on Jan. 20th

Billiard legend Steve Mizerak is still recuperating in intensive care after an operation in late January to remove his gall bladder.

The 61-year-old Hall of Famer has been hospitalized since Jan. 20, according to his wife, Karen. He is under almost constant sedation, while being treated for fluid in his lungs and a blood infection.

“The doctors say that he’s not getting better, but he’s not regressing either,” Karen Mizerak told BD on Feb. 21. “He’s putting up a good fight.”

He was first hospitalized in December for congestive heart failure, which caused his body to retain too much fluid. He was released on Dec. 24, but returned to the hospital on Jan. 20 when he suffered an attack related to his gall bladder.

His gall bladder was removed several days later, but his health woes intensified in a sort of “domino effect,” Karen reported. The end result is that Mizerak has stayed in intensive care, now breathing with help of a ventilator and being fed intravenously.

“It’s a very complicated thing,” Karen said. “He’s a very sick man.”

Doctors hope to be able to eventually wean him from the sedation treatment and stabilize his condition, she said.

Mizerak has a history of health problems, including a stroke suffered in 2001.

A resident of Singer Island, Fla., Mizerak is receiving treatment at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Buddy Hall Wins Senior Masters

“Rifleman” Buddy Hall won the Senior Masters VI over the weekend at Steve Mizerak’s Billiards in Lake Park, Fla.

The event was double elimination, race-to-9, with a single race to 11 in the finals. The event was sponsored by The Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Hall lost his first match of the tournament to bearded sharpshooter Howard Vickery. After nine wins on the one-loss side, including triumphs over Ron Park and Bob Ogburn, Hall secured a spot in the final. He faced Wade Crane in the title match, and at first he trailed Crane 6-1, but he caught up with and passed by his competitor for an 11-7 win.

Hall took home $10,000 for the win, while Crane settled for $6,000. Ogburn and Vickery took third and fourth, respectively.