Cecil ‘Buddy’ Hall was born May 29, 1945 in Metropolis, Illinois – just 6 miles from Paducah, KY. The little poolroom he first started playing in at the age of 15 still used an old pot-bellied wood stove for heat in the winter – firing that up before they opened every day was one of young Buddy’s jobs in exchange for table time.
With Johnston City only about 50 miles away, Buddy headed up there as a teenager for the opportunity to watch the country’s greatest players compete. As Buddy tells it, “I got to watch all the best players in the world play by the time I was 16. You can’t believe how much that’ll help your game. You see things done the right way.”
At Johnston City, Buddy became friendly with Hubert ‘Daddy Warbucks’ Cokes, who would often stake Buddy in some of the after-hours action there, gaining Buddy valuable experience. “We never booked a loser; he staked me all the time. We never played for less than fifty a game. He was an action man and he loved to make games.” It was there that he watched One Pocket for the first time, including one memorable session where ‘Jersey Red’ give a huge spot to a player called ‘Meathead’ that Buddy knew played better than Buddy did at that time. Although he didn’t enter the Johnston City tournament himself until 1970, in those earlier years he learned a lot about how to play, and how games were made and won and lost.
Buddy did play a lot of Banks as a young player since the game was so popular around where he grew up, so good banking was always a part of Buddy’s game, which of course helped his One Pocket.
Buddy met the undercover Banks Hall of Fame legend Vernon Elliott when Buddy was AWOL from the service for a few months in 1968. They first hooked up in Louisville, where Vernon took a liking to Buddy and the two of them went on the road for a couple of months before Buddy returned to the service. “Vernon would play anybody; he’d play them 9-ball, Bank Pool, One Pocket, whatever; he’d play all games. He could do the weirdest shots you ever saw in your life; I couldn’t believe the shots that he could make playing Bank Pool. He took me under his arm and treated me like a brother. I loved Vernon; he was a really good friend of mine for years.”
Buddy spent a lot of time with another One Pocket Hall of Famer, the great Eddie Taylor in Shreveport starting in about 1975, when both of them lived in the same area and frequented the same poolroom owned by Red Box. The two of them played a lot of friendly One Pocket during those years, which really helped Buddy get a feel for the game, but One Pocket did not become his game of choice until years later. Back then, because he played such great 9-Ball, according to Buddy “There were very few players that I gambled with playing One Pocket. Every time I played somebody I just felt like I was cheatin’ myself by not playing 9-Ball.”
However, all that changed for good after Buddy had moved to Tampa, Florida in the early 90’s and One Pocket began to develop into his best game. “My One Pocket game really came along right there; I started playing it at a different level.”
The first One Pocket tournament Buddy ever won was actually the US Open One Pocket, held in 1979 as a ‘satellite’ event alongside the Behrman’s US Open 9-Ball that year. He also won:
• 1998 World One Pocket Championships in Baton Rouge
• Derby City One Pocket division in 2001
Buddy was inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of just a handful of players that are in both the One Pocket HOF and the BCA HOF.