Willie Mosconi is still a celebrated icon when it comes to billiards. He is the one who availed himself for popularizing the game as a national recreation activity.
What’s meant to be will always find a way. And in his case, the saying seems to fit in exactly. Let’s head further.
Willie’s father was not that supportive when he confronted his aim of being a pool player. It was a big No.
That wise Joseph kept the stick and ball out of his sight. But the trick did not help much, Willie used the broomstick and potatoes instead.
And today, The Philly native, Willie also nicknamed Mr. Pocket Billiards, is regarded as one of the best professional pool players in the world. He is the one to bring in modern pool techniques and style.
In addition, he won the World Straight Pool Championship nineteen times between 1941 to 1957.
Unfortunately, the billiard legend took his last breath in 1993, but his name is still alive in the world of billiards.
This article will talk about the life of Late Pool Player Willie Mosconi and his achievements and contribution to the pool.
But before that, Let’s take a look at his quick facts first.
Willie Mosconi | Quick Facts
|Full Name||William Joseph Mosconi|
|Nickname||Mr. Pocket Billiards|
|Birth Date||June 27, 1913|
|Death Date||September 17, 1993|
|Birth Place||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Place of Death||Haddon Heights, New Jersey|
|Height||5 ft 7 in|
|Weight||165.3 lb (75 kg)|
|Hair color||Not Available|
|Eye color||Not Available|
|Father’s name||Joseph Mosconi|
|Mother’s name||Helen O’Reilly|
|Ex-Wife||Ann Harrison (m. 1941-1952)|
|Wife||Flora Marchini (m. 1953 till death)|
|Children||3; William Mosconi Jr., Candace Mosconi, Gloria Mosconi|
|High School||South Philadelphia High School|
|College||Banks Business College|
|Profession||Pool Player, Author, Actor|
|World Straight Pool Championship||19 times|
|Net Worth||$1 million – $5 million|
|Social Media||Not Available|
|Merch||Willie Mosconi World’s Champion 1941-58 On Pocket Billiards|
|Last Update||November, 2023|
Who is Willie Mosconi?
Willie Mosconi is a popular American Pool Player, also known as Mr. Pocket Billiards.
Mosconi has won the World Straight Pool Championship nineteen times and is also accredited for the popularity of the pool in the modern days.
Apart from this, he set the world record of 526 consecutive balls in 1954. He was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1968.
Also, Mosconi Cup, an annual nine-ball tournament, has been held every year since 1994 between teams representing Europe and the United States in his honor.
Willie Mosconi | Education
On June 27, 1913, Willie Mosconi was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up alongside five siblings.
Willie’s father, Joseph Mosconi, was a former boxer and poolroom owner, while his mother, Helen O’Reilly, was a housewife.
Willie attended South Philadelphia High School before his father enrolled him in Banks Business College.
Willie Mosconi | Career As A Pool Player
How did he start playing pool?
Willie Mosconi was a child prodigy who started showing his skills when he was young. His father had a pool room in his home, and maybe that’s what inspired him to become a pool player. But, Willie was born to be a pool player.
However, His father, Joseph, wanted Willie to pursue a career as a Vaudeville entertainer like his uncles. So, he used to hide the stick and ball from William.
But, Willie was so interested and passionate about billiards that he started playing billiards with broomsticks and potatoes.
Seeing William’s talent and passion for billiards, his father changed his mind and let him play billiards. However, Joseph wanted him to become a great billiard player.
Henceforth, Joseph Mosconi arranged challenge matches for his kid to learn more and grow. Willie beat experienced players in those arranged matches and slowly earned his name at a young age.
In 1919, Mosconi, who was only six years old, competed in an exhibition match against Ralph Greenleaf, the reigning World Champion.
The hall was packed, and Mosconi played well enough to earn a tie despite Greenleaf’s victory. This event led him to pursue a professional career.
In 1924, Mosconi was already the junior straight pool champion at 11. In the early 1930s, Mosconi took a break from the game to focus on his studies.
After the short break, Mosconi’s career elevated to the next level as he entered one local event after another, winning all of them. Finally, after a short time, he started making a living as a professional pool player.
In 1933, Mosconi competed in the World Straight Pool Championship of the Billiard Congress of America (BCA). He came close to winning the title, but Erwin Rudolph beat him in the final.
His performance drew the attention of Brunswick Corporation’s president, who employed him on the spot. After that, Mosconi began a frantic cross-country exhibition the same year.
He started to compete in pool tournaments, and with lots of failures, Willie finally won his first world pool championship in 1941.
Later, Wille was sponsored by Billiard halls and supported by McGirr’s, a New York City nightclub for the tournament series.
He dominated this series, running 125 balls from the break five times, a feat accomplished by only two other players in history.
United States Army
But, his professional career was halted as he enrolled in the United States Army in 1944. Yes, you read it right, he took part in World War II and was in the department of defense in industry.
However, Willie did not reside there long and resumed his pool career. In 1957, he made a fantastic comeback by winning the BCA World Championship for the second time.
Conflict with Rudolf Wanderone
Moreover, World Champion Mosconi was in the limelight due to a feud between him and Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone till the 80s. The discussion was over how to present pool either as a scuffled gambling game or a mastery game.
Mosconi’s first wife, Flora, said of conflict, “My husband hated Minnesota Fats because he felt that [Wanderone] was always hurting the image of the game instead of helping it.”
Also, the two competed on February 25, 1978, in “The Great Pool Shoot-Out,” a US$15,000 televised match on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
As a result, Mosconi won all three sets of the match, which included nine-ball, eight-ball, and rotation, 5–2, 5–3, and 5–2 sequentially.
Mosconi officially retired as a professional pool player in 1966 at the age of 53, although he remained engaged in the game’s promotion. Also, he worked as a consultant and appeared in several films.
Willie Mosconi | Books
The billiard legend wrote the famous book Willie Mosconi on Pocket Billiards. It is a pocket billiards instructional book he co-authored with a ghostwriter.
The book provides fundamental instruction, images, and diagrams on shotmaking and straight pool methods. It was published in July 1948 and reprinted in 1959.
In 1993, Mosconi’s autobiography, Willie’s Game, was released after his death. And it covers his life journey as a legendary pool player and his job as a consultant for top pool movies.
Willie Mosconi | Filmography
In 1961, Mosconi served as technical advisor for The Hustler 1961. The film starred famous actors such as Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, and Piper Laurie.
The film is considered the crucial factor in the popularity of the pool. Mosconi’s mission was to educate Newman on moving, talking, and shooting pool like a true hustler.
Before filming, Newman had never even picked up a pool cue, but Mosconi’s instruction managed him mask his lack of skill.
Mosconi also made a cameo appearance in the film as himself. He was seen amongst the audience monitoring the game.
Apart from this, Mosconi has made several film appearances in movies such as Super Cue Men.
He also starred in TV Shows such as I’ve Got a Secret and What’s My Line? And documentaries such as Billiard and Bowling Champs and Champion of the Cue.
Willie Mosconi | Wife and Children
In 1941, Willie married his first wife, Ann Harrison. The couple was blessed with two children: son William Jr. and daughter Candace.
But unfortunately, their marriage came to a stop when William enlisted in the army. His wife Ann fled with their children.
But, later, Willie claimed custody of his children and brought them back into his life.
Finally, in 1953, Willie marries his second wife, Flora Marchini. The newly married-couple welcomed their first child, Gloria, into the world a year later.
Though their first marriage of Willie didn’t last, his relationship with Flora lasted until his last breath. They were a happily married couple and led their life amazingly.
Willie Mosconi | Awards and Achievements
- Set the world record by running 526 consecutive balls without missing in 1954.
- Inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1968 at 55.
- Mosconi Cup has been held every year since 1994 in his honor.
- Honored in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Nineteen times World Straight Pool Championship Winner.
Willie Mosconi | Death
On September 17, 1993, the renowned billiards legend died of a heart attack. He had been suffering from strokes previously, because of which he had to take a break from his profession.
Willie took his last breath at his home in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, with his wife by his side till the end. Later, he was buried in New Saint Marys Cemetery in New Jersey.
After his death, his wife donated his belongings to the Archives Center on August 23, 2000. Also, she presented several things such as cue sticks, ivory cue balls, and trophies to the Museum’s Division of Cultural History.
Willie Mosconi | Net Worth
Her net worth of Willie is estimated to be anywhere between $1 million and $5 million. He earned his net worth as a professional pool player and tournament winnings.
Not only that, but Willie was an admirable talent, his father publicized him, and many people came to challenge him. That being the case, he has been in the money-making field since his childhood.
Apart from this, part of his net worth also comes from his movies and books.
After his death, his family received a portion of the proceeds from the sale of his autobiography.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Willie Mosconi’s straight pool record?
Mosconi set the world record of 526 consecutive balls in 1954. John Schmidt beat the record with 626 consecutive balls on May 27, 2019.
However, critics believe Mosconi still holds the record as he made it in a live competition, whereas John recorded it on a videotape.
Is the Mosconi Cup named after Willie Mosconi?
Yes, Mosconi Cup is named after Willie Mosconi. A year after Mosconi’s death, the Mosconi Cup was organized to honor Willie Mosconi.