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.
April: Moving Day
IT'S AMAZING what you'll find in drawers that haven't been opened in a decade! (Actually, what you find is stuff that's, well, at least 10 years old!)
Luby Publishing's offices have been in the 100-plus-year-old People's Gas building in downtown Chicago since late 1997. A few months ago the landlord asked us to relocate to a different floor because they needed to demolish a few floors of the building… one being the floor we'd been on for 14 years.
You can only imagine how much stuff I'd accumulated during that span. I actually took a course in journalism school on how to maintain an office like Oscar Madison's in "The Odd Couple." My professor would have been proud! Books, photos, magazine issues, board packets, audio tapes and spiral notebooks. Tons and tons of spiral notebooks.
It took a solid three days and numerous dumpsters to whittle the contents of my office down to a pile that would fit in my slightly smaller new office.
Of course, the task could have been accomplished in a day had I not stopped to read all of the notebooks, sigh at the old photos and fumble through all the drawers of lapel pins and knickknacks I'd accumulated over the years.
Sure, a lot of it was useless junk. But, boy, were there some treasures.
The notebooks themselves told the story of the sport and industry over the last 15 years and beyond. From notes taken at industry functions like the Billiard Congress of America Trade Show and board meetings, to interviews from the early days of the Mosconi Cup and World 9-Ball Championships, the notebooks offer snippets of how different the sport and industry was 15 years ago, and yet how little things have changed.
The notebooks also jogged my memory about a number of then-important issues that promised to shape the sport, which instead are distant memories.
Reams of notes, court documents and depositions from the famous Professional Billiard Tour v. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. lawsuit, along with 45 pages of transcripts from an interview with then PBT czar Don Mackey. He was one of the great orators of our day!
Equally entertaining, notes and board minutes pertaining to the BCA's ill-fated attempt to change its bylaws and structure to gain membership in the United States Olympic Committee. The idea was eventually dismissed, the association sold off its highly successful league system, and the BCA opted to become solely a trade association. It remains one of the single worst series of decisions the association has made in its 50-plus year history.
On the bright side, my office cleansing produced some wonderful memories. I'd almost tossed a poster I picked up at the 1983 Legendary Pocket Billiards Stars Tournament in Atlantic City. The poster is signed by all seven participants — Willie Mosconi, Minnesota Fats, Irving Crane, Luther Lassiter, U.J. Puckett, "Cowboy" Jimmy Moore and Jimmy Caras. I consider getting Fats to sign that poster with a Sharpie instead of his trademark ink stamp a major coup. I distinctly remember Fatty pulling that stamp out of his pocket and me, just 25 and still an industry newbie, having the nerve to say, "No way, Fats. You're signing this poster in ink!" He grumbled a bit, but acquiesced.
And photos? Great photos! Me and Fats in the living room of his Dowell, Ill., ranch. And me with Allison Fisher and Gerda Hofstatter after the famous "flash" incident of 1998.
I suppose I should clean my office more often. Stuff does tend to pile up. But I have to admit, it just seems more meaningful to do it once every 15 years or so!