Rack’em up with George ‘The Trapper’ Rood

Exclusive OnePocket.org Interview

George Rood is a good inspiration to 9-Ball players of all ages, that it’s never too late to take up the game of One Pocket. George started as a 9-Ball and Straight Pool player and didn’t seriously take up One Pocket until he was about 75 years old! George was honored at our 2007 Derby City Classic Hall of Fame dinner with a “Lifetime of  Pool in Action” award.

OnePocket.org: So where are you from, George?
George Rood: Marietta, Ohio; it’s the oldest town in the Northwest Territory.

OnePocket.org: So growing up, that’s where your family lived?
George Rood: Yes.

OnePocket.org: Are you still living in the same town?
George Rood: No, I live in Dayton now.

OnePocket.org: George, I know you are one of pool’s pre-eminent elders, but what year were you born?
George Rood: In 1914; I am an even 90. November 11th I’ll be 91 (soon to be 93 – most of this interview took place in 2005).

OnePocket.org: Great, congratulations!
George Rood: I got a problem with circulation, what they call peripheral myopathy. The nerves are not served well by the blood supply.

OnePocket.org: But you are a real lucky guy, to live to 90 and keep such good company and that sort of thing.
George Rood: Yeah, I’ve done pretty good.

OnePocket.org: I know that someone in their 80’s is an octogenarian, and someone in their 70’s is a septuagenarian; what is the word for someone in their 90’s?
George Rood: I’ve forgotten what it is for 90.

OnePocket.org: We don’t get to use that one very often.
George Rood: So you are the guy responsible for getting the hall of fame going, for One Pocket. I would like to become involved with it, you know. The thing of it is – what happens is – people get information on the players that were in the limelight. Well I stayed out of the limelight, so consequently, they don’t know me, you see. But all those guys in the limelight, they were in my pocket.

OnePocket.org: That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you and one of the things I’m trying to do with the One Pocket web site, is to get more of the history of the after hours players out, so people can learn more about them. Because there are a lot of players, like the black players that either couldn’t, or wouldn’t, play in any of the tournaments. There are a lot of players nobody knows much about.
George Rood: The guys that stayed undercover, like me and Don Willis, are lesser known.

OnePocket.org: I know I never knew much about Don Willis myself until a few years ago. And in the last few years we have been losing a lot of those players, especially from the 60’s and 70’s.

(George’s friend comments): George is amazing. He’s modest but he also was in the 1936 Olympics, in the swimming and diving.

OnePocket.org: Wow; that is an accomplishment! Of course I’ve always considered pool a sport.
George Rood: It’s not a game like chess where everything is in your head and all you have to do is move the piece.

OnePocket.org: In pool – especially in One Pocket – you really do have to use your head but then you still have to get up to the table and physically execute your shot.
George Rood: Yes, under great pressure. And in those long sessions, you could be talking about playing somebody for three days.

OnePocket.org: If that’s not a sport, I don’t know what it takes to be a sport.
George Rood: I still teach at Todd’s Room. (Todd Recher, owner of airway billiards, dayton, ohio)

OnePocket.org: So you teach players?
George Rood: Yes.

OnePocket.org: Todd told me that for years you played other games, but not One Pocket?
George Rood: That’s right.

OnePocket.org: So you came to One Pocket later in life. How late in life was that?
George Rood: Well, I played very little of it early on. Then I quit playing all pool in the early 60’s; didn’t play a game of any kind until Todd opened his room about 10 or 12 years ago.

OnePocket.org: So, let’s see, from the 60’s to about 1990…
George Rood: It was about 25 or 30 years later. I didn’t play at all; didn’t even go in a poolroom.

OnePocket.org: Wow, that was quite a lay off.
George Rood: Yes it was. I developed vision problems that interfered with competing at a high level, so I stopped playing. I have almost no depth perception now.

OnePocket.org: I didn’t know. So you weren’t just a pool player then; you had another career as well.
George Rood: Oh yes. I didn’t play pool for a living.

George Rood prepares for an Eddie Taylor exhibition. Taylor was billed as “World Bank Champion and One Pocket Player”.
Photo courtesy George Rood

OnePocket.org: So George, how did you develop into such a good player? You must have played pretty much full time to start with?
George Rood: I was fortunate as a youngster that my small town of Marietta had three players who were hundred-ball-runners. This exposure to proper play was a good foundation to my game. All I can say is what Mosconi said one time. He said, ‘If you had spent the amount of time practicing as I did, you’d be the world’s champion because you’re the most natural player that I’ve ever known.’

OnePocket.org: Is that right?
George Rood: Mosconi said that; I’m quoting what he said.

OnePocket.org: So he admired your stroke.
George Rood: The only thing is he got very upset when I beat him. I’ll tell you about him. We played in eleven exhibitions. We played in different towns in the Ohio and West Virginia area. Our final one was in Springfield, Ohio. I later owned that room; I bought that room. So, I won that exhibition. He got so upset he says, ‘If you think you can do it again, I’ll put my world title on the line. We’ll play 1500 points, Straight Pool.’ What can I lose?

So, we played. He went and got his set of balls out of the car, which was his personal set, with his own cue ball. We played 150 in the afternoon, 150 at night for five days. Needless to say he killed me. I broke the balls the first day and he ran 150 and out. I didn’t get a score! So that means now I’m playing to 300 and he’s playing to 150. Each day I had to play to a lot more, to make up; I never did make it up. I only got to like 870 or something like that. But I did beat him in more exhibitions than he beat me. He was a hostile individual when you beat him, but a nice guy away from the table.

He had his high run in the room when he played an exhibition there.

OnePocket.org: When you said Springfield, Ohio, I thought that sounded familiar. So that was where he ran 526?
George Rood: That’s right. That was in the room that I owned, but I didn’t own it then; I bought it later. It was the same room where we had played our exhibition, but it was after that, at another exhibition, when he ran all those balls.

OnePocket.org: Was that same table where he had that run still there when you bought the room?
George Rood: Yes it was.

OnePocket.org: I’m told that was a four by eight table?
George Rood: You’re right. Now, we had played on a four and a half by nine, but it was a four by eight that he played on, with another fellow, on the night he had that high run.

OnePocket.org: George, do you remember how tight the pockets were on that table?
George Rood: They were large.

OnePocket.org: That must have helped out a little bit.
George Rood: But never-the-less, it’s more balls than anyone else ever got.

OnePocket.org: Oh yeah, it’s still amazing, even if it wasn’t the most challenging equipment. Were you there when he did it?
George Rood: No. I was not there, but I have read the affidavit that everybody signed that night.

OnePocket.org: I’ve heard that in some of the exhibitions he would run 200 balls and then he would simply stop and switch over to doing his trick shots – not that he missed or anything. I’m wondering why he kept going that particular night.
George Rood: Probably somebody egged him on, you know. ‘Let’s see how many you can run,’ you know. But he sure could run a lot of balls.

OnePocket.org: So you didn’t really begin to play One Pocket until you picked up pool again in Todd’s room relatively recently?
George Rood: Right. I could play it, but I did not play it seriously. I mean, it wasn’t one of the games that I would wager on. I picked One Pocket up pretty quick because, you know, playing Straight Pool for many, many years; it wasn’t that hard. It’s not a great deal varied from Straight Pool except that you shoot at one hole. I play pretty good One Pocket right now. In fact, I could play here (Derby city) with all these players, even at my advanced age. I could still play with most of these players.

OnePocket.org: Todd’s room, where you took up pool again, was also a room where Steve Cook played regularly, wasn’t it?
George Rood: Yes, and One Pocket was his best game but he played several games well.

OnePocket.org: I understand he played Straight Pool very, very well.
George Rood: Well, yes, Straight Pool and 9-Ball. He played all three games well.

OnePocket.org: He was a very creative One Pocket player.
George Rood: Oh yes, yes, he was a good creative player.

OnePocket.org: I always enjoyed watching him. One of the things he did really well was when he was in a pickle, where the other guy had a lot of balls around his pocket, he was very good at taking advantage of maybe just one other ball to get the cue ball just enough behind it so that he cut off the other guy’s shot.
George Rood: Yeah.

OnePocket.org: He didn’t need very much of a target to get behind. I mean the rest of us might be able to hide the cue ball behind a full rack, but he could get the cue ball behind just one ball, really well.
George Rood: Well that’s my long suit. It’s one thing that you need to do in One Pocket that very few people can do, shoot a distance on the table soft, and retain English.

OnePocket.org: You mean what they call slow spin?
George Rood: That’s not a skill that these guys playing 9-Ball would necessarily learn today.

OnePocket.org: Larry Lisciotti was one of the best in my area at that, but you’re right, not very many of today’s young players use that long slow spin.
George Rood: No, because of course the cue ball curves and they’ve got to allow for it. That’s my long suit.

OnePocket.org: So if you are going to do well at One Pocket that’s one of the skills you’re going to have to learn – to slow spin the cue ball.
George Rood: Yes. Probably if I have an advantage over a guy it’s that important factor. I played an awful lot of Straight Pool, and that’s really good training for it. That and Three Cushion billiards; that’s another powerful asset.

OnePocket.org: So basically, what you did was, you took what you already knew about pool from the other games, like from 9-Ball and Straight Pool, and then you applied that creativity to your One Pocket game.
George Rood: Yeah; pool and Three Cushion. I’ll show you two shots that I’ll bet you’ve never seen before.

OnePocket.org: Now, for a guy that has only really taken up One Pocket recently, how do you know all these shots George?
George Rood: My imagination is very fertile.

photo courtesy Todd Recher

OnePocket.org: You must have picked up some One Pocket when you saw other guys playing it, back before your layoff?
George Rood: I played with a lot of all-time great players. I played well, but at other games. I played a lot of times with Mosconi; 11 exhibitions I can remember. I played with Irving Crane, Erwin Rudolph, Joe Procita, Andrew Ponzi, Ralph Greenleaf…
OnePocket.org: Wow, Greenleaf!
George Rood: I played with all those top players. We played Straight Pool mostly. I also played Jimmy Caras, Arthur ‘Babe’ Cranfield, Andrew St. Jean and Willie Hoppe. One achievement I am very proud of was during a Straight Pool money match. I was playing a weaker player and the spot was that he played regular Straight Pool, while I played ‘fifty no count’. Any time I ran less than fifty balls I received credit for none. This particular day I had eleven runs of a hundred or more.

OnePocket.org: Wow; most of us dream of doing that once in our lifetime! Is, or was, Straight Pool your main game?
George Rood: No, 9-Ball was. At one time I was considered the best 9-Ball player in the world; that included the guys that you hear about, like Luther Lassiter.

OnePocket.org: And Eddie Taylor?
George Rood: I beat both Lassiter and Taylor.

OnePocket.org: That is pretty heavyweight company.
George Rood: Oh yeah

OnePocket.org: At that time, there weren’t 9-Ball tournaments. I believe the first one was when the Jansco brothers introduced it in 1962, in their all-around.
George Rood: I went over there, but didn’t play. I watched it. I didn’t want to play there because of the publicity, which I didn’t want. So I played all those players but not in the public. No tournaments, because I didn’t want the publicity, you know.

OnePocket.org: Yes, I understand that. Did you play a lot of 15-ball Rotation also?
George Rood: Yes, but not as much as you’d think.

OnePocket.org: I thought that was an older game than 9-Ball?
George Rood: It was, but even by then not too many people played rotation. Don Willis was one top player that played rotation. From Canton, Ohio; he played rotation.

OnePocket.org: So you and Don Willis played?
George Rood: I got his money; I knocked him out about five times.

OnePocket.org: And he was like you, in that he never — I don’t think he ever — played in any tournaments.
George Rood: Right.

OnePocket.org: But you played him even and you beat him?
George Rood: Yes.

OnePocket.org: That’s good and strong. I have heard that he was one of the top players for the money ever, so that puts you in pretty good company.
George Rood: I beat him a number of times. He came to where I was, in Marietta. I beat him there. I went to Canton and beat him in Canton.

OnePocket.org: And that was playing 9-Ball, every time?
George Rood: Yes. As far as Taylor is concerned, I wouldn’t play him Banks, but I knocked him out at 9-Ball easy. Not easy, but…

OnePocket.org: So, you used to be able to string a few racks together?
George Rood: Oh yeah.

OnePocket.org: Also, it’s hard to be strong at 9-Ball without having a good strong break…
George Rood: Yeah, I made balls on the break real well and I ran out pretty well. Let’s say this, I ran out better than anybody else. Oh yeah. Now there were a couple of guys that I had lots of trouble with. Lassiter was one of them. We had a tough game, but I sent him to the rack.

OnePocket.org: So you beat Lassiter?
George Rood: I played in Norfolk…

OnePocket.org: Oh, you played in Norfolk during the war years?
George Rood: Yeah, I played for three days down there in Norfolk. Those were big games. The smallest game I played, and this was about 1947, was for $100 a game, 9-Ball.

OnePocket.org: Yeah, and $100 a game then is probably equal to about $300 or $400 today.
George Rood: Lassiter and I started at $300 a game.

OnePocket.org: I understand Lassiter made an awful lot of money down there in Norfolk; how did you make out in Norfolk?
George Rood: Well, I played a guy by the name of Chris McGeahan; he was a tournament player. I won $500 from him. Then I played a guy named Don Decoy. I won $2200 from him. The next guy I played was Rags Fitzpatrick. I won $2000 from him.

OnePocket.org: I understand he was a great 9-Ball and One Pocket player as well.
George Rood: He was the best all around player I’ve ever known. I was $9000 winner at that point and Rags had only one barrel left. One of the guys I was with said, ‘Let him win a game; maybe we can get a side bet. Let him win a game.’ So I did, and a fellow by the name of Morgan, they called him JP naturally, got up and said, ‘I’ll side bet $500.’ Now we are playing $700 a game 9-Ball, in about 1947.

OnePocket.org: Wow.
George Rood: That game I let him win was my undoing. He won the next 13 in a row.

OnePocket.org: So you let the door open.
George Rood: And I ended up with only $1900. I was a $9000 winner and didn’t get to keep it. I won more games than he did but I didn’t win the money. Rags played all games well. He played One Pocket great. Played good 9-Ball. Played good Straight Pool. He played all the games.

OnePocket.org: It’s a shame he died so young.
George Rood: Yeah. He and I played a number of times. We played in Parkersville, West Virginia. We played in Charleston. We played in Marietta.
OnePocket.org: How about Fats? Everybody always asks, how did Fats play when he was in his prime, which would have been the 30’s or 40’s?
George Rood: I always gave him the seven and nine.

OnePocket.org: So you spotted him the seven playing 9-Ball?
George Rood: Yeah.

OnePocket.org: So to put it in Fats’ words, you were an ‘overcoat’ above him, or so.
George Rood: He wasn’t a top player.

OnePocket.org: No, but 9-Ball wasn’t his best game anyway. I guess his best games were Banks and One Pocket.
George Rood: And he was a decent three-cushion player.

OnePocket.org: Which also helps in One Pocket.
George Rood: I’ll tell you about my first time playing The Fat Man. This was way back, in Marietta.

OnePocket.org: Before you went to Norfolk?
George Rood: Oh, this is before I even moved to Dayton and I moved to Dayton in 1939, so this was when I just got out of high school.

OnePocket.org: Oh really? So you played Fats really early.
George Rood: 1934 or maybe ‘35 or ’36 — along in there. He came to town and he was driving a LaSalle. You know what a LaSalle was?

OnePocket.org: Was that a big Buick?
George Rood: A 16-cylinder car. He had a couple blondes with him and they parked out in front of the fireplug out in front of the poolroom. I was the only person in there, and I was brushing the tables. He came in and he says, ‘I’m looking for this guy George. I hear he plays.’ And I said, ‘Friend, he doesn’t come down till about one, but I’ll play you some till he gets here.’ He said, ‘Sonny, you don’t have enough money to play me.’

So I went next door. The fellow that owned the place also was a bookie and he gave me a roll of bills about big enough to choke a horse. I came back and said, ‘Is this enough?’ He said, ‘That’s enough.’ So he went and got his stick, you know, and he said, ‘You go and break them Sonny.’ So I broke them, made one on the break, and ran on out while he was taking his stick out, and getting it together. I broke them again, ran out and he’s getting some talcum powder from the bar and getting that ready. I broke them and ran out the third time. Now he’s standing like this. The fourth time I broke them he was shaking his head and the fifth time I broke them he was unscrewing his stick. He never got a shot. Never got a turn at the table. That was The Fat Man the first time I played him.

photo courtesy George Rood

In Norfolk he was playing bank pool with a friend of mine and I was betting on my friend. He ended up owing me $60.00 for the last game. So in those days, tips were hard to get; they got them from France, so I said, ‘You got any tips?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I got some up at the apartment.’ So we went on up to the apartment. His wife opened the door and she was totally naked and she invited us in and he went over to the drawer and got some tips out and gave me three tips.

So anyhow, next time I saw him was in Springfield when he came up there. And I said to him, ‘You know, you still owe me $60.00.’ He said, ‘What are you talking about? I gave you three tips for that.’ They were about twenty cents a piece at the time. But that was the way the Fat Man worked, you know.

OnePocket.org: That would have been Evelyn?
George Rood: Yeah, that was Evelyn.

OnePocket.org: So he was a frisky guy, and she was a frisky lady.
George Rood: Yeah.

George Rood: One time we played 9-Ball, he and Marcel Camp. You know who he was?

OnePocket.org: Yes, he was a Snooker champion.
George Rood: Well Marcel Camp and Fats, we played three handed and I knocked them both out giving them both the seven or nine. Broke them both; got them both in this pocket here.

OnePocket.org: Sounds like you kind of ran out of competition in 9-Ball?
George Rood: Yeah, right. There were two good players I didn’t get to hustle though. One was a fellow in Mansfield that played real well; his name was Ted Elias.

OnePocket.org: I’ve heard of him but don’t know too much about him…
George Rood: He played real well; I had a hard game with him. We played three or four times and I won three or four times but it was a tough session every time. And the other was a fellow in West Virginia named Bud Hypes. He was a fine player and he gave me a tough time too.

A friend of mine, Charlie Jones, was in with me over in West Virginia when I played Hypes.
I played him 9-Ball. I started out $1500 in the hole because he was hitting them great and I had just finished a session with a fellow who couldn’t draw the cue ball.

OnePocket.org: So it took you a while to get back in stroke?
George Rood: Yeah. If you play with a fellow who can’t draw the cue ball for two and a half days, you know you have to play pretty bad.

OnePocket.org: So you were a good lemon man too?
George Rood: Yeah, very good. I’ll tell you what happened. There was an old time player we called Tom Smith. That wasn’t his name. He was a decent player and he came and asked me to go to Evansville, Indiana with him; he had a man over there to play a game with. So we went over and he told me to go to this little town which is over on the Illinois side of the border, only about a block away, and he said, ‘I’ll bring this fellow over.’ Well, I was over there and I was sitting with the rest of the boys, you know, and the two of them came in and this fellow got a stick out of the rack and he walked by and he said, ‘You want to play some 9-Ball, fellow?’ I said, ‘Nah, I don’t want to play.’ And he said, ‘I want to play some 9-Ball for 50 a game.’ And I said, ‘Oh, wait a minute now; if you play 50 a game, I do play.’ So we played 50 a game. The first day I won about $3,000 from him. We really only split his money, because Tom was in with him, but he was in with me too, of course.

A simple example of George’s ‘spot-on-the-wall’ technique. Theoretically the same principle works for one and two-rail shots.

So the next day we did it again, but Tom ran out of money; he couldn’t put his end in because I couldn’t get the money back to him. So I met him down at a drugstore to give him back some money so he can pay his half every time. There were a couple of fellows in there who had been at the poolroom and they said, ‘Oh, you boys are together, huh? Stick with us or we’ll squeal on you.’ We denied it, of course, but that was the end of the game. So we won $6,000 from the guy, all together.

So that was the week we went over to play this guy in West Virginia, Bud Hypes, who could really play. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could play again, you know. Took me almost two days. In fact Tom and Charlie were both in with me, but when Hypes won 15 games in a row Tom threw up his hands and he said, ‘I’m out.’ He said, ‘Money’s not good to be split three ways, I quit.’ And Charlie said, ‘I’m still in; bet more money.’ So anyhow, in the end we cut Tom back in; we gave him back some of his money. It was a tough, tough game. But that was interesting; I got a new Buick out of it.

OnePocket.org: Wow, that’s great.
George Rood: That was quite a session, I’ll tell you. He was a fine player.

OnePocket.org: Was that all one straight session or did you take a sleep break or what?
George Rood: Well, what we did there was, we started playing for a hundred a game 9-Ball; that’s a pretty good game at that time. I think it was 1940, or sometime in the early 40’s. He won the first 15 games. We played all that day, and up to midnight. I’m still $1300 loser at midnight. We knocked it off and started back the next day and played to midnight and I’m even. Then we locked the doors and played to six in the morning. I won $6600 and his new Buick, the Roadmaster. You’re probably too young for those.

OnePocket.org: Well I’ve heard of them.
George Rood: Yeah, they were a nice car.

OnePocket.org: So George, can you offer any advice to somebody who is making the switch to One Pocket from 9-Ball?
George Rood: Well, about the only advice I can give you is to play a softer game. Try not to fire balls; don’t whack them. Just try to play a softer game and use the rails. Don’t try to draw balls all the time like 9-Ball players do. That’s about the only advice that I can give.

OnePocket.org: Besides running balls well, what makes you a good One Pocket player?
George Rood: I can see a whole lot of ways to get in or out of positions that people put you in. That’s what I specialize in. I teach some of the better players, some of the good players. If we get on a table I can show you a few things of my own.

OnePocket.org: Okay, well that sound’s good to me; I’d like to do that.
George Rood: For example on bank shots we usually reference the diamonds, where you just divide it in half and shoot there.

OnePocket.org: I do that.
George Rood: Yeah, well let’s say you are going to bank a ball and go around the table with the cue ball. Do you have a reference that you could use to do that? You’ve got balls down in here and you want to go around and put the cue ball behind them, but if you hit it on a given angle you’re going to go around the table and scratch in the corner. Maybe I’d better show you what I’m talking about.

The 1-ball caroms toward your pocket at the same time
the 2-ball banks that way. George also described a similar
shot if the two balls are on the far end rail — in that case one
caroms and then banks one rail, while the other goes two rails.

OnePocket.org: Well if you’ve got a system for that, that works, I’d like to hear it.
George Rood: Oh absolutely. All right, so what you do is, you start out originally and take the cue ball away. Just take a ball and hit over here any given spot until it goes around the table and in the pocket using left english.

OnePocket.org: Which would be running english.
George Rood: Now as soon as you determine where that ball hits on the first rail to go in the pocket — somewhere up around the third diamond or something — as soon as you determine where it hits, then you look across that point at something out there in the room.

OnePocket.org: A spot on the wall or something.
George Rood: Right. Now if you’re over here, you see the exact same spot, then you shoot there.

OnePocket.org: About how far away should that spot be?
George Rood: Well usually rooms are probably 12-15 feet away. It doesn’t make too much difference, a little more or less.

OnePocket.org: Okay.
George Rood: Now, we’ll take it a step further for that shot, where you want to bring the cue ball around the table without scratching. Now you shoot at the same target, wherever you are over here.

OnePocket.org: Oh yeah, so you use that spot on the wall technique for a lot of different things.
George Rood: Oh absolutely, all the time. Now, when you shoot a ball in then you go from where you shot the ball in, not from where the cue ball is to start with.

OnePocket.org: Right, because that’s where the cue ball is going to take off from.
George Rood: Right. I guarantee it will help you.

George lines up the shot that Hayden Lingo showed him . The 9-ball does not go cleanly, but a little nudge of the frozen 6-ball pushes the 9-ball out just far enough so that with a little gentle top english, the cue ball bumps it toward the pocket.

OnePocket.org: That’s excellent advice. I’ve actually tried the ‘spot on the wall’ a little, but mainly for kicks, not for position.
George Rood: Well you should perfect it because, say you want to go three rails for position in this corner, and you hit the ball and hope the cue ball goes three rails to this corner, but if you come around and scratch, you’ll ruin your shot.

OnePocket.org: So you use that spot on the wall technique to avoid the scratch.

George Rood: Right. There’s a whole lot of varied things similar to that, that you can use. Combinations for example, where balls can be made to go. Say if balls land by the side pocket on an angle across from your pocket, and you are up here, you can hit them where one banks to your pocket and the other one kisses toward your pocket.

OnePocket.org: Oh yeah, that’s a great shot.
George Rood: Or you’ve got two balls laying down here on the end rail, at the same angle, and you’re sitting here. If you hit the edge over here, this one kisses off and goes in your pocket and this one banks and goes in your pocket.

OnePocket.org: So you can play that shot one rail and two rails.
George Rood: Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of things like that, that can make the difference in a win or loss.

OnePocket.org: And those are things that you picked up originally in Straight Pool?
George Rood: Yeah, or else I’ve experimented with them since. A lot of things I’ve experimented with since. I also played a good deal of Three Cushion Billiards, which teaches you concepts that just playing pool might not.

OnePocket.org: I know you talked about Rags; did you ever play him One Pocket?
George Rood: We played 9-Ball and Straight Pool but I don’t think I ever tried to play One Pocket with him. But I’ve seen him play it and he played great.

OnePocket.org: And you considered him to be one of the best One Pocket players that you ever saw?
George Rood: He was the best all around player I ever saw. I played with a guy that was one of the originators, heck what was his name?

OnePocket.org: Do you mean Hayden Lingo?
George Rood: Lingo, yeah. I played with Hayden Lingo. He’s one of the only players I ever played with that showed me a shot.

OnePocket.org: Oh really?
George Rood: That I treasured and I still use.

OnePocket.org: So you still remember the shot?
George Rood: Yeah, I’ll show it to you. Nobody’s ever seen it before. If we can get a table for a few minutes I’ll show you that particular shot.

OnePocket.org: If we walk down the hallway one of the vendors has a little table. It’s a seven-footer or something.
George Rood: It’s tight but let’s try it, as long as the rails are okay.

Well, here’s what it is. This is your pocket. You’ve got two balls setting here. One ball is on the rail and the other’s frozen to it.

OnePocket.org: Okay.
George Rood: Sticking out just a little bit. And the one that’s sticking out a little bit you play it right straight in that pocket.

OnePocket.org: It doesn’t look like it would go; how do you do that?
George Rood: You hit the first one first and then it pushes the second one out a little. The cue ball comes along side of it and pushes it; it doesn’t hit it as much as it pushes it.

OnePocket.org: Oh really? So you bump the first ball a little bit and it wiggles the second one out?
George Rood: Wiggles that one out, just enough so the cue ball goes along aside of it and herds it in. It doesn’t hit it much; it just kind of gives it a little nudge to change its direction so it goes.

OnePocket.org: So Hayden showed you that shot?
George Rood: Yeah, Hayden Lingo. That’s the only shot I ever had anybody show me in all the time that I played; that’s why I remember that.

Steve Booth with George Rood at the 2005 Derby City Classic

OnePocket.org: It was unusual among the older players to share too many of their secrets, wasn’t it?
George Rood: That’s right. He liked me a little bit I guess. Well, I was a kid at the time, you know. And nobody would believe that a young kid could play. Because I’m like sixteen or seventeen playing with these champions, so they bet all their money, you know. They lost all their money too, because they didn’t know I could play.

OnePocket.org: I have heard that Hayden had done little charts; he was obviously a student of the game. He didn’t show you any of his charts, did he?
George Rood: That’s the only shot he showed me; I’ll never forgot it.

OnePocket.org: And you were sixteen years old at the time, so that was about 1930 or ‘31?
George Rood: Yeah, I was probably still in high school.

OnePocket.org: Yeah. So he was already…
George Rood: He must have been 40 or 50 years old then.

OnePocket.org: Did he try to get you to play One Pocket?
George Rood: We just got acquainted; that’s about all I remember. It’s been quite a while.

OnePocket.org: Some people say that Hayden Lingo kind of originated One Pocket, or at least modern One Pocket.
George Rood: Yeah, well he was probably the person that perfected a lot of things about it that no one else did, you know.

OnePocket.org: I like that you said he perfected it, yet what you’re talking about is that by 1930 he had already perfected it!
George Rood: He knew the game well, there’s no question about it.

OnePocket.org: Well George, you are an inspiration to all these younger guys that are 9-Ball players and are taking up the game of One Pocket when you were — how old were you when you took up One Pocket?
George Rood: 75 or 80.

OnePocket.org: 75 or 80; so it is never too late!
George Rood: Well at 75 I could still run out the balls pretty well, especially Straight Pool. I haven’t tried lately, but I tried to run 90 on my 90th birthday and I didn’t get it done. I have to admit a failure.

OnePocket.org: Well, maybe you’ll make up for it next year if you run 91.
George Rood: There you go. The last run I made more than my age was 126 a couple of years ago. That’s a pretty good run for an old man. They had a One Pocket tournament the other day and I was playing. I was one in the hole and they had seven. And I made a shot and ran nine and out. The other guy broke the balls and I ran eight and out. I broke the balls, made one on the break and run three more, so I ran 21 balls.

OnePocket.org: So you ran nine, eight, and then four, at 90 years old!
George Rood: Yeah, that’s quite a few in One Pocket.

OnePocket.org: Well George, I want to thank you for taking this time, for taking quite a bit of your time; I really enjoyed chatting with you.
George Rood: I’ve got lots, hundreds of stories.