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.
May: BD's Holy Trinity
OVER THE span of 33 years, I’ve seen my fair share of people come and go in this industry. For that matter, I’ve seen my fair share of editors, writers, designers and salesmen come and go from Luby Publishing.
But there are constants, and I was reminded of a few in the last issue of Billiards Digest with our cover shout-out to “25 Years of Chronicles.”
The issue paid homage to BD’s Historian in Residence, Dr. Michael Shamos. I remember that day in 1988 he popped into our offices at the John Hancock Building. I was 29 and had a tiny little office with no windows. Mr. Shamos (as I called him until only recently) was in his early 40s and had a physics degree from Princeton, a Ph.D. in computer science, a law degree and various other degrees from places like Yale, Duquesne, American University and Vassar.
I remember feeling a shade overmatched.
I was, however, smart enough to recognize a potentially valuable addition to the Billiards Digest staff. Mr. Shamos offered, for a pittance, to write a column about pool history. Not simply tournament history, but the history of the game and the game’s place in history.
During the first decade he wrote for Billiards Digest, Mr. Shamos was required to produce just six “Chronicles” a year. In 1998 the magazine went monthly, and he hasn’t missed a beat.
As he noted in last month’s article, Mr. Shamos has produced 245 installments of “Chronicles!” (246, including the article in this issue.)
It’s an astounding feat. Incredibly, it’s not the longest-running column in BD. That honor belongs to the equally amazing George Fels, a longtime advertising agency creative. Mr. Fels came to Billiards Digest at precisely the same time I did, fall 1980. His first “Tips & Shafts” article was published (without a column head) in November of that year. Like Mr. Shamos, Mr. Fels has never missed an issue, which, by my calculation, makes this issue’s installment of “Tips & Shafts” his 288th.
And let’s not forget Robert Byrne. Mr. Byrne was one of the cornerstones of Billiards Digest when the magazine was launched in September 1978. An accomplished novelist and the author of what is still the best-selling instructional book on pool (“Byrne’s Standard Book of Pool & Billiards”), Mr. Byrne wrote instructional articles for nearly 22 years, compiling 126 installments, by my count. And that doesn’t include the countless tournament write-ups and news items he submitted over the years.
I often wonder if the billiard industry and its fans realize how lucky we are that these immensely talented and successful men happened to love billiards. And how unlikely it is that they would invest so much of their time to writing about the game. None of these men make their living in this industry. For all practical purposes, they’ve offered their services for more than a quarter century.
Mr. Byrne’s contributions to the sport have been recognized with induction into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame. For my money, Mr. Fels and Mr. Shamos are equally deserving.
From a personal standpoint, in addition to being constantly awed by their talent, I’ve been the recipient of their friendship, which is also Hall of Fame worthy.
I once called them The Three Amigos, which sounds painfully trite. Billiards Digest’s Holy Trinity might be more appropriate.
In any case, we should all be astounded by their contributions, and thankful for their passion.