http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Hoppe Hoppe Biography

Just around the turn of the century a seemingly bizarre bit of billiard match-making sent a 12 year old boy-to play Al Taylor,then about 30 and one of the country’s best balkline players.It was agreed that Willie Hoppe would be allowed to climb on the table to make his shots.Taylor promised Willie to buy him ice cream if he won.And Willie did win 300-207.After buing ice cream for his conqueror Taylor went to Colorado to take up mining.The victory over Taylor made Willie nationaly famous as the “Boy Wonder” a name he always detested but which ironically persisted,not only after his hair grew thin and gray,but even after his retirement from tournament billiards two year ago.

At 16 Willie toured with Jake Schaefer.But when two years later,he challenged Slosson who had dethroned Schaefer for the 18.2 championship,Slosson sneered that he would not play an unknown.Soon Willie made a reputation which no one could ignore.He went to Paris to play Vignaux for the 18.1 title.

The night of January 15 1906 some 3000 Frenchmen crowded into the lavish ballroom of the Grand Hotel to watch the old lion defeat his challenger who looked like a lad at his first formal dance.The white maned Vignaux had majestic bearing and a gift for dramatic flourish.But plump round faced Willie,his hair plastered and parted in the middle,was quite calm.He bent over the table like a laboratory scientist,prepared to capitalize on every error Vignaux made.Whenever Vignaux missed he yield the table with an elaboretely sardonic bow.Willie not realizing it’s effect on the Lion’s blood pressure,would gave him a moonface green and return to work.While the audience booed his cold efficiency,Hoppe scored repeated high runs and won the title 500-323.He returned to New York to be met by a great crowd and a brass band playing The Yankee Doodle Boy.He was the champion of the world and still only 18 years old.

Απόσπασμα από αφιέρωμα του Sports Illustrated για τον Willie Hoppe.Νοέμβριος 1954.