From the Publisher
By Mike Panozzo
Mike became editor of Billiards Digest in 1980 and liked it so much that he bought the company. He has served on the Billiard Congress of America board of directors and as president of the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America.
October: Veteran’s Day
IN ADDITION to being a world champion pool player, undefeated professional boxer and the owner of a 300 game in bowling (back when a 300 game meant something), Danny DiLiberto was a solid baseball player. He can probably empathize, then, with former World Series hero Bill Mazeroski.
Mazeroski was one of baseball’s greats, known more for his defense than his hitting prowess, but also known for hitting a grand slam in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mazeroski’s career statistics were solid, but he was often looked over in voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame because of higher profile players. Mazeroski watched year after year as the Hall of Fame announced lists of inductees that didn’t include his name. Baseball later developed a Veterans Committee, made up of living Hall of Famers and a select group of broadcasters and writers who cover the sport. Their charge was to consider long-retired players, managers and umpires who have been removed from the general ballot. In 2001, baseball’s Veterans Committee righted what it considered a wrong when it voted Mazeroski into the Hall of Fame.
Thankfully, the same long road has provided the same happy ending for DiLiberto. One of the great players of the ’60s and ’70s, DiLiberto had the misfortune of finding his resume at the mercy of the Billiard Congress of America board of directors during the early years of the BCA Hall of Fame, which wasn’t officially formed until 1966. The first decade saw the BCA board fill the hall with the high-profile stars of yesteryear…Mosconi, Greenleaf, D’Oro, Hoppe, Taberski, et al. When the board got around to the “modern” stars, Lassiter, Balsis, Balukas, Mizerak, Varner and Sigel gained quick induction.
By the 1990s the Hall of Fame ballots were placed into the hands of BCA voting members (primarily manufacturers), and DiLiberto found himself up against the likes of Buddy Hall, Loree Jon Hasson, Ewa Laurance, Earl Strickland and Jimmy Rempe.
Danny always felt like he belonged on the list, and most hardcore fans and followers of the sport agreed. He won the fabled Johnston City All-Around title in 1972, and finished second twice at the prestigious BCA U.S. Open. The lack of major tournaments in the ’70s prevented players like DiLiberto from fattening their resumes. Not deterred, DiLiberto, then in his late 40s, took advantage of a spurt in tournament action in the ’80s. In a stunning display of both versatility and youthfulness, he won the ’81 BCA National 8-Ball Championship, the ’83 World One-Pocket Championship and the ’84 Classic Cup 9-Ball Championship.
Still, by 2000 it was obvious that DiLiberto’s star was too distant for the day’s voters to seriously consider.
Once removed from the general ballot, DiLiberto wasn’t likely to get further consideration until the United States Billiard Media Association assumed control of the voting, and a Veterans Committee was established. No criticism of those who voted prior to 2006. Just fact.
And so now Danny DiLiberto’s rightful place alongside the greats of his generation is secure, and I couldn’t be happier.
My personal favorite recollection is the time Danny took me to Caesars Palace to meet famed boxing trainer Angelo Dundee while Dundee was preparing Sugar Ray Leonard for a fight. Angelo met Danny with a big hug and invited us in to watch a sparring session. That was pretty cool.
Danny is a good guy, friendly and funny. He loves the game and does everything he can to teach and encourage others to love it as much. He also does a superb job offering color commentary on Accu-Stats productions.
And he’s a welcome addition to the Hall of Fame.