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Have Pool Cue, Will Travel

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2023 3:04 am

Have Pool Cue, Will Travel

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 19, 2023 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Mark O'Brian tells the story of St. Louie, of the best pool players to ever grace the scene.

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Watch The Today Show weekday mornings at seven on NBC. vehicle, just look for the green check. Get the right parts, the right fit, and the right prices. Let's ride. Eligible items only. Exclusions apply. This is our American Stories. Up next, a story from Mark O'Brien who listens to us on KMOXAM in St. Louis. And this story is about one of his personal heroes. Mark is the author of Have Pool Q Will Travel which outlines this true character. Here's our own Monty Montgomery with the story.

Pool is a sport with a rich history to it and today it's one of the most popular participation sports in America. And there are countless names which have gone down as the best players of the game including St. Louis Louis. Here's Mark O'Brien with more on this interesting character. I met Louis when I was 15 and that was in 1970. It was at a small pool room in St. Louis.

I had heard some stories about someone named St. Louis Louis. I heard him over and over again. I never met him. I thought he would be a guy about 50 or 60 years old and one day I'm in the pool room practicing and a guy about 21 walked in and you would have thought a celebrity walked in. All the old timers in the pool room right about the same time they said, it's Louis.

It's Louis. And everybody shook his hand, hugged him, blah blah blah. And from that day on he became my hero. Louis was one of the most charismatic people I've ever met.

That didn't have anything to do with pool. When Louis was around anybody anywhere at any time all the eyes were on Louis. He just had a way of making you feel good, smile, laugh. He was like a magnet.

His skills were incredible and he has been called by hundreds of people maybe the greatest shop maker in pool history. Louis Roberts could cut a pool ball like nobody else could. My gosh his favorite game was nine ball and that's a rotation game. One through nine. You have to hit the lowest numbered ball first and if you make that you go on to the next ball.

And then when you finally get to the nine and you make it you win the game. And Louis if he had an open shot he would just run out. I mean he was a stone cold run out artist. He was amazing. An amazing pool player. He was born Louis Francis Roberts in 1950 here in St. Louis Missouri. A future two-time U.S. Open nine ball champion, Louis would actually dominate the sport for over two decades.

Louis's dad purchased a brand new A.E. Schmidt pool table so the six children could have fun while they were at home. Louis had five siblings, two sisters and three brothers, but they had difficulty getting Louis away from the table. As an early teen Louis became infatuated with pool and practiced for several hours every day. By the time he was 15 or 16 no one in St. Louis could beat him playing eight ball or nine ball. And Louis made his first road partner Paul Beulis at Cleveland High School when they were softball motors.

And Paul luckily he owned a car and him and Louis would travel to dozens of area hot spots on the weekends and they won piles of money. As Paul tells it Louis was a young phenom and rarely if ever missed a shot. And Louis always had a ton of energy and was also an accomplished athlete in high school. He was a star gymnast and a cross-country runner. And Louis had only two things on his mind as a young teen.

Sport activities and pool. By the time he was 17 Louis had a reputation of being unbeatable on a pool table. Out of town hustlers started showing up in St. Louis and when they departed their bankroll had shrunk. One thing that separated Louis from other pool players, gamblers and hustlers.

Louis would often refund a portion of his winnings because he hated to see anyone go broke. One other thing, Louis was becoming a dead ringer for Elvis Presley in the looks department and he loved the attention. On occasion Louis would walk on his hands around the pool tables at the sports center in St. Louis while reciting verbatim lines from his favorite movie Scarface. Louis's impression of Al Pacino was spot on. I witnessed feats like those dozens of times as I was the co-owner of the sports center along with my partner Larry LaBarbera. Larry hired Louis as our house pro in 1988. Louis left us with dozens and dozens of great classic memories that will never be forgotten. Now Louis did several trick shot exhibitions at the sports center and he scared us on more than one occasion. Louis would set up a series of five difficult shots and guarantee he would make them in six shots or less. He then promised everyone in attendance a five dollar bill if he was unsuccessful. Sometimes 50 people or more were in the building and we were on the hook for the payout, me and my partner.

Of course it made us very nervous but we never paid out a dime. Louis was a sensational trick shot artist. One of his best shots it was called the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

He would lay three cues on the pool table and it would make like a train track and he would pocket four balls and then the cue ball would go around the table and it would hop up in the air and come down on this track and then it would roll right toward another pocket, the cue ball would, to pocket another ball. That usually got the biggest rise out of the audience whenever he did an exhibition. Louis started winning or placing very high in major U.S. tournaments at age 22 when he won the 1974 Orlando, Florida open nine ball tournament and that was versus a large group of other seasoned professionals and road-tested hustlers. And it wasn't just his skill that won him tournament after tournament, it was also his wit. When your opponent approaches the table and gets down to to take a shot, he shouldn't say anything and Louis never did say anything.

But while Louis was shooting, man he was so talkative, he just might do things to make you nervous without you realizing it. One time some guy came in, Louis did not know him, the guy asked for a large handicap and the guy ran the first two racks and Louis knew he was in a little bit of trouble. So he asked the guy, he goes, hey do you inhale or exhale? And the guy said, well what do you mean? He goes, well you play real good.

I was just wondering before you pull the trigger, do you inhale or exhale? Well, the guy got so confused he was struggling to breathe the rest of the match and he went on tilt and couldn't make a ball after that. Louis beat him. And then there was Louis's debut into the film industry. Well, a blockbuster movie hit the theaters in 1986 starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman.

The film was titled The Color of Money. When the producers and the directors were gathering a cast of pool-playing teachers, Louis was a no-brainer to be chosen. Louis was a great teacher of the game and he used to give private lessons for a hefty fee.

So Louis lasted a few weeks on the payroll. Louis and a few other great players gave hands-on instruction to Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. Louis claimed he would have been chosen for one of the speaking parts in the movie, but they told him he looked too much like Elvis. So he could be seen in the movie three or four times and his name is actually announced at the big tournament and Louis was very proud of that mention. Louis also mentioned that while Newman had average pool skills, Tom Cruise had never played pool and was more difficult to teach. So naturally, Louis became friends with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise and Louis had a personal contact phone number for both of them, which he kept in his little black book.

On December the 22nd, 1991, Louis apparently took his own life. His untimely death sent shockwaves throughout the billiard industry. Back at our pool room, dozens of former and current players stopped by to pay homage and view the many pictures of Louis that were displayed on the wall right next to his favorite table, pit table number one, Louis' table. Godspeed, Louis, and rest in peace until we meet again in pool heaven.

And great job on that piece, Monty Montgomery doing the work. Mark O'Brien, a listener, bringing us the story of St. Louis Louis here on Our American Story. Thank you so much for joining us today. We'll see you next time on Our American Story. It's between a movie ending and your plane touching down. So grab your headphones, raise your tray table and relax with iHeartRadio and Southwest Airlines. Thrills, chills and laughs are bigger when you save with Undercover Tourist. Enjoy the most fun you'll have all summer and save up to $166 per ticket to Universal Orlando Resort.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-19 04:39:18 / 2023-05-19 04:43:52 / 5

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