Ralph Greenleaf was the greatest pool player of his era. He also played carom billiards. Greenleaf was considered to be the fiercest competitor on the pool table. He was a champion of the game in its toughest format known as 14.1 continuous or straight pool.

A life of fame

Greenleaf won his first ever title in 1919. His last championship was in 1937. He stood third in 1942 in the Three-cushion billiards World Championship. He had won World Pocket Billiards Champion 20 times. He ranked third on Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century. He is one of the two greatest pool players in the history of the game with Willie Mosconi. Willie toured with Greenleaf to learn a lot of tricks and considered Greenleaf as his mentor. Greenleaf is well known for his tricks on the pool table. The classic movie “The Hustler” demonstrates his trademark pool game tricks. In 1966, he was inducted as a member of the prestigious Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame.

Personal life

Greenleaf lived his life lavishly. He was known as a “Playboy” because of his alcoholism. But he was pretty serious about his hobby. He raised chickens and turkeys in his farm on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. He had a beautiful wife Amelia Ruth Parker who was a Vaudeville actress more popularly known by her stage name “Princess Nai Tai”. He was offered roles in Hollywood films as he was one of the most handsome men of his time. But he could only reject them as he was too busy in his tournaments and parties.

Tragic demise

Greenleaf was once held in Oklahama as a vagrant. He was supposed to attend a tournament in New York. It is said that he ran 87 balls on the pool table continuously at a pool hall in Okmulgee to prove he was a professional pool player and not a wanderer. He succumbed to a severe internal haemorrhage at Philadelphia when he was 50. He suffered from illness for a long time. But he refused to undergo treatment owing to a tournament in New York which was scheduled after he passed away.

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