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2015 BCA Hall of Fame Induction Video
Jan 5, 2016, 3:57 PM

Ortmann, Ursitti Honored

“I remembered the times when I was a teenager in Germany, full of ambition and enthusiasm,” was Oliver Ortmann’s recollection of hearing the news that he had been elected into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame during his acceptance speech on Oct. 29, at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside in Norfolk, Va. “I had read about the American heroes, and heard about the Hall of Fame, where only the best players in the world get in. I thought, ‘Wow, to be part of that one day!’ To me, it was just a dream.”

Ortmann was inducted into the Greatest Players category in Norfolk, with promoter and historian Charlie Ursitti earning a spot in the Hall’s Meritorious Service wing.

The annual induction banquet, held during the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, drew fans, players and living Hall of Famers, including Johnny Archer, Loree Jon Jones, Karen Corr, Mika Immonen, Ralf Souquet, Pat Fleming and Danny DiLiberto. Ortmann and Ursitti became the 65th and 66th inductees into the billiard hall. Ortmann, 48, was introduced by legendary instructor Jerry Briesath, who credited the German star with launching the “European Invasion.” It was Ortmann, noted Briesath, who became the first European player to win a major title in the United States when he defeated Steve Mizerak in the final to win the 1989 BCA U.S. Open Straight Pool Championship in Chicago. Ortmann was 22 years old at the time. Ortmann went on to win the World 9-Ball Championship in 1995. He also won 13 Euro Tour titles and a pair of International Challenge of Champion crowns during his storied career. Jones introduced Ursitti, who is credited with promoting numerous televised pool events during the ’70s and ’80s, including the legendary Willie Mosconi vs. Minnesota Fats “Great Pool Shootout” on ABC Wide World of Sports. The first Mosconi vs. Fats tilt remains the highest rated pool match ever, drawing more than 10 million viewers. Ursitti was also a huge supporter of Jones.

“Aside from my dad,” Jones said, “no one had a bigger impact on my pool career than Charlie.”

“I’m proud, not only of the ‘Great Pool Shootout,’ which was something great,” said Ursitti, “but proud of what I did for the industry with all of the events we produced.”

The Hall of Fame Banquet also afforded the opportunity for the first Tony Robles Sportsmanship Award to be presented. Longtime player/promoter/tournament director Jay Helfert created the award, naming it after Robles, one of the game’s most respected and loved players. Robles was on hand to present the award to Oscar Dominguez, a top American player and founder of the Mezz West Tour. The World Pool-Billiard Association also presented a plaque to room owner and promoter Barry Behrman, in recognition of his 40th consecutive year of running the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships.