Billiards is a more general and common name for cue sports. It is a wide variety of game of skill using a cue stick that is used to strike balls to move them through a billiard table. Throughout the years, many players have emerged as the best in the sport regardless of the type of cue sport, be it carom billiards, pocket billiards, or snooker.
It's rich history dates back as far as the 15th century. Among the famous enthusiasts of the sport are Mozart, Louis XIV of France, Marie Antoinette, Immanuel Kant, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, George Washington, French president Jules Grevy, Charles Dickens, George Armstrong Custer, Theodore Roosevelt, Lewis Carroll, W.C. Fields, Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, and Jackie Gleason. It is also worth noting that the body of Mary, Queen of Scots was wrapped in her billiard table in 1586.
Since 1893, billiards was recognized as a "sport" other than being a mere recreational activity. The rules being used in particular modern day billiard games originated from the original billiard games such as nine-ball, snooker, three-cushion, and eight-ball. Snooker, technically a pocket billiards variant, has become an international professional sport. Many professional players and billiards enthusiasts have gained worldwide fame and popularity because of their contributions and brilliance of the sport. Here are some of them:
1.) Michael Phelan. Michael Phelan is considered by many as the "Father of American Billiards" as a player, manufacturer, inventor, and popularization of billiards. He holds many patents for billiard table designs and cushions and is credited to be the first one fo put diamonds on the table. He authored the "Billiards Without a Master", the first ever American book on billiards, and has set the trend for lavish billiard rooms through his New York room in Broadway.
2.) Ralph "The Showman" Greenleaf. He is hailed as the first ever showman of billiards. His trick shots amazed audiences during exhibitions and has won numerous titles in billiards. Greenleaf has won a total of 20 World Pocket Billiards Champioship titles from 1919 to 1937. In his obituary in 1950, the New York Times said of Greenleaf: "What Babe Ruth did to baseball, Dempsey did for fighting, Tilden did for tennis.. Greenleaf did for billiards."
3.) Eddie Taylor. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Taylor was known as the "Knoxville Bear". He defeated Hall of Famer Luther Lassiter in 1964 in Johnston City and is a two-time world all-around tournament champion. He also defeated Danny Jones and Mike Eufemia at the 1967 Stardust finals in Las Vegas but lost to Lassiter in the 1967 Johnston all-around finals. He is an active promoter of billiards in Boys Clubs in America, regarded as one of the greatest one-pocket and bank pool players of all time, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987
4.) Willie "The Mosconi Era" Mosconi. Also popularly known as "Mr. Pocket Billiards", Mosconi was able to uphold the sport's popularity after it's World War II decline. He held 15 world titles during his era and set a record for the highest run record in a single game with 127 balls in 1945. He also set a record for scoring the most consecutive balls without a miss with 546 in March 19, 1954. Mosconi was inducted to the Billiards Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1955 and in 1994, the Mosconi Cup, an annual pool competition which is held every December between American and European players, where founded in Mosconi's honor.
5.) Ray "Cool Cat" Martin. Martin is one of the only 7 players in history to win at least three 14.1 titles winning straight pool world titles in 1971, 1974, and 1978. Martin earned his "Cool Cat" monicker after calmly winning his 1971 title when an earthquake was in progress. Apart from his straight pool titles, Martin has won numerous nine-ball tournaments including the 1980 Caesars Tahoe Invitational, 1981 ESPN King of the Hill, and the 1983 Music City Open. Martin was inducted to Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame in 1994.
6.) Johnny "The Diamond King" Layton. Layton is considered to be the most scientific player in billiards. He uses a different strategy on his game and has won the World Three-Cushion Championship 12 times and became famous for his diamond system method. He used table marks to determine where the balls would rebound and perfected his style by using mathematics.