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: Two for the Show
I CAN honestly say I've enjoyed every Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame induction ceremony I've ever been to, and I've been to every one since the late Steve Mizerak was so honored in Columbus, Ohio, in 1980.
Obviously, some inductions have been more memorable than others Minnesota Fat's induction during the inaugural BCA Trade Show in 1984 at the Petroleum Club in Fort Worth, Texas, may have been the most entertaining and, not surprisingly, well-attended. Earl Strickland's 2006 acceptance speech was also one for the ages funny, outrageous, rambling. It was vintage Earl. And the side-by-side induction of Loree Jon Jones and Jimmy Rempe in 2004 was as emotional and heartfelt as any.
All Hall of Fame Banquets have one thing in common: the opportunity to see people who had a significant impact on the game tell you in their own words what drove them to such heights. A player gets one chance to receive an honor like the BCA Hall of Fame, and the usually humbled by the experience. Some are even overwhelmed.
I'm not a big fan of speeches, but I've always maintained that there should be no time limit placed on a Hall of Fame inductee. They've put in a lifetime of work to reach that podium, and I can't even imagine the flood of emotions and the torrent of memories that must wash over them when they attempt to explain what the moment means to them.
And I must admit, I'm looking forward to the 2009 ceremony as anxiously as any I've attended. All Hall of Famers have earned their place at the podium, but there have been few years that have simultaneously welcomed two inductees who pretty much define a generation of players.
It was almost a foregone conclusion that Allison Fisher and Johnny Archer would be rushed into the BCA Hall of Fame the moment they reached the qualifying age of 40. How exciting that they both reached that age in the same year.
I remember Archer in the early '90s, a rail-thin raw talent with an incredible thirst for knowledge and drive to succeed. (I immediately liked Johnny because he was the one guy on tour who made even me feel buff!)
Over the years I watched him mature not only into the best American pool player (and among the top five in the world), but into a leader. When players looked for an opinion on matters relating to the game, they trusted Archer's take. They listened to him. He had their respect. I've seen a lot of great players over the years who never earned the kind of trust and respect from their peers that Johnny Archer receives.
Archer's titles were more than enough to earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame, but it's how he grew as a leader that most impressed me.
And Allison Fisher? All that you need to know about Allison Fisher is that she has dominated women's professional pool for nearly 15 years like virtually no one in any sport, and she's still adored! Even her contemporaries love her! How does that happen?
It happens when you respect the game, respect your peers, keep your ego in check and always say the right things. And I'm not talking about window-dressing respect or clichéd responses.
Allison Fisher is not just good at the game. She's been good for the game. She carries herself like a champion, dresses like a success and is a great interview, charming and witty and organized.
Oh, and the 53 Classic Tour titles makes for a nice resume.
Two great champions. Two great ambassadors for the sport. Two great people.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to this.