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McGoorty: A Pool Room Hustler (Total/Sports Illustrated Classic) Paperback – November 30, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Paperback, November 30, 2000
$53.94 $10.49

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Pool hustler, hobo, alcoholic, ladies’ man, and tournament player . . . McGoorty was a Runyonesque character and a first-rate raconteur. The result is a memoir that should rack up many readers, even among those that don’t know a cue from a swizzle stick.” —Publishers Weekly

“At times funny, occasionally filthy, here and there exaggerated, but it’s an entertaining story of a guy who doesn’t try to pass himself off as any sort of giant at the table: just a fellow who loved the game.” —Willie Mosconi, nineteen-time World Straight Pool champion --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

The Broadway Books Library of Larceny
Luc Sante, General Editor

McGoorty is master billiards writer Robert Byrne?s racy account of the life of Danny McGoorty, a billiards champion of that bygone era when cue artists were often scam artists and pool rooms were held to be dens of iniquity. Hustler and hobo, womanizer and fashion plate, McGoorty was at once eyewitness to Capone?s Chicago and the feats of greats like Willie Hoppe and Willie Mosconi. In an all-American voice at once sarcastic, profane, humorous, and chock full of colorful lingo, he relates his colorful and seedy life and times with a unique style and brio.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Total/Sports Illustrated Classic
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Total Sports (November 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892129493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892129499
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,729,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 9, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
McGoorty, billiards legend, tells all. Not quite on the same plateau as, for example, Mezz Mezzrow's 'Really the Blues', but definitely up there in the modest pantheon of books unafraid to celebrate lowbrow Americana in all its primal glory. McGoorty's glorious world of the 1920s and 30s is gone now, but thankfully we have a few books like this to remind us what it was like.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is another wonderfully written book by Robert Byrne. It shows the vivid life of a pool hustler/hobo/drunk/real person that was in his prime in the 1920's-1950's. If gives a real sense of McGoorty and his life in what apear to be his own words. He also shares extremely colorful insight, his opinion, into several famous and well known professional billiard players and World Champions of his era. It is full of real life experiences during those times; however, the language and crude tone are very vulgar. If you're not offended it is an enjoyable interesting read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very coarse book, so if you don't like profanity and accounts of "low living," you might not like it. It was recommended to me by my old friend Andy M., a used and rare book dealer and a tournament 9-ball player. Andy feels it's the best book ever written about pool, and he says he's read most of them.

On the other hand it's very vivid and delightfully straightforward—the narrator (through his ghostwriter) pulls no punches, tells a great story, and lived a very picaresque and eventful life. His game was 3-cushion English billiards, but you don't need to know anything about that game (far out of favor now) to enjoy the book.

Pool was the "video game" of the 19th and early 20th century. It enjoyed vast popularity for a very long time, although it never really recovered from the seedy reputation it acquired in the Great Depression when pool rooms became dens of gambling and dissipation for the huge unemployed and underemployed male population. "McGoorty" tells the story of that time. (It was originally a game popular with the rich, famous and powerful--many of the "robber barons" owned pool tables, and Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain were both aficionados.) Three-cushion was once almost unbelievably popular--the top player, Willie Hoppe, earned more money in the 1920s than Babe Ruth, and there was a time when "The New York Times" published six articles about billiards EVERY DAY--more than the number of articles about baseball at the peak of that sport's popularity. Pool has fallen a long, long way since then, and right now is in the middle of another period of precipitous decline.

"McGoorty" is an autobiography centered around billiards, and although it's not particularly deep it's a rollicking read and plenty of fun.
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Is every Hobo and Hustler story in this book true ? Who knows ? Reading it is like taking Robert Byrne's place at McGoorty's bedside as the man prepared to die and recounted his life story . There are precious turns of phrase . McGoorty knew how to tell a story . It is a sad account of a life wasted on alcohol but it is also a book of funny stories and the depression era . And so much more ! By objective standards, McGoorty was a terrible human being ...but I came to love him just the same as I read his moving life story .
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
McGoorty had a great outlook and his talk is laced with great one liners and pithy observations from his world of action and hustlers. That alone is worth the read. It is also a look into a nether world of another time and an interesting read in that respect - when a sporting man or woman) on green felt was a minor celebrity.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book so much I've read it twice and want to reread it again. As a competitive pool player, I love hearing stories of hustlers and players going on the road. This book is not only that, but a great way of getting a feel for what it was like to live and be in a pool hall back in the old days. It's a great insight to how pool and billiards were viewed back in the day. I'm reading these 1-star and 2-star reviews saying "Danny McGoorty was a low-life drunk, etc, etc". Yeah, maybe he was, so what? That has nothing to do with the quality and readability of the book. His story is amazing! It sucks you right in! Can you imagine trying to hustle pool for a living in Chicago during Al Capone's days? Or trying to hide in coal cars on trains to travel as a pool hustler during The Great Depression? This book is fantastic! And unlike the book I read after it, "Cornbread Red: Pools Greatest Money Player", the stories in McGoorty are rarely exaggerated, awesomely entertaining, and are entirely true. Robert Byrne is a very respected pool author (go and read his book reviews if you don't believe me) and Byrne went out of his way to ask Danny McGoorty if he could write a book about his life! That's how incredibly interesting and amazing this guy's story is: Byrne, a great pool instructor and author, enjoyed Danny's stories at the pool hall SO MUCH that he CONVINCED Danny to let him write a book about his life even though Danny didn't care for the idea! Every person who loves pool should read this book!
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By A Customer on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had a feeling that I would enjoy this book and I was right. I was unable to put this book down. This is now my all time favorite. A fascinating true story about the life of Dan McGoorty that I am glad was able to live on in print. Whether you are into pool or not, you will find this colorful story quite interesting.
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