It was around the middle of June in 1992 and we were playing in the old BCA League out of The Bourbon Street Grill in Charleston, S.C. This young guy, maybe twenty-one or two comes boiling up to our table, “Look at this guys, (an Adams Sneaky Pete) just as soon as I get it trained, ain’t nobody in Charleston going to be able to do anything with me”.
And that is how it got started. Johnny Stallings was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm from Jump Street. He was loud and rowdy and ready for action. It did not matter that he was over his head in a match. He knew he was going to learn fast and be competitive in short order because that is the way he is put together.
Never, in my twenty-eight years as a member of the Charleston Billiard community, has anyone come along who has dominated the billiard scene like Johnny. It seems like every time you hear about a score, Johnny is in on it. There are stories that I have heard that I dare not tell. One of my favorites is of Johnny walking into a predominantly black bar with a reputation for action and hollering, announcing his presence and stating that not only was he the best player in the bar, he might be the best they ever saw…..and laughs. By the time Johnny left, he had all the money in the house and a brand new legion of buddies. They loved him. It is impossible not to be drawn in by the very charismatic John Stallings because beneath all of the wolfing and joking, there is a really good guy. He is one person who you will see helping a lesser player. There is a story about him giving money back to a guy’s wife after Johnny had busted him. There are too many stories to tell here and we are very fortunate to have shared them with him for the likes of John Stallings may not pass this way again.
Now, if you are reading this and having one of those vain thoughts like ”Maybe I need to pack a bag and slide on down to Charleston and look Mr. Stallings up”. Please be advised, he did get the Adams Sneaky Pete trained and there ain’t nobody in Charleston who can do anything with him. Y’all Come!
TIME TRAVEL WITH RICHARD BARFIELD
Q. Richard, how old are you?
Q.Have you lived in Charleston all of your life?
A. Yes, except for my time in the military and when I was on the road.
Q. How old were you when you were first attracted to pocket billiards?
A. (laughs) 15 and a half. I remember the 15 and a half part because you had to be 16 to get in the back room where the tables were. I remember peering through a hole in the door at the back room thoroughly intrigued by the goings on. I talked to my dad and he went to the room and signed a slip and they allowed me in. We played for 25 and 50 cents and a year later I couldn't get a game. (laughs again).
Q. How many hours a day did you practice?
A. I never practiced. (Wayne faints). I hated practice but I loved to play for money.
Q.How old were you when you started playing for money?
A.When I started playing, I started gambling.
Q. What was the average bet in those days?
A. $5.00 or $10.00 was good early on but if I could get a game for $20.00 or $30.00 bucks it was a major payday for me
Q. How has the game changed in the last thirty years?
A. The game is not as aggressive as it was. In those days you could push out after every shot and if you didn't like where your opponent left you, you could make him shoot again.
Q. Did you hold down a steady job while you were playing?
A. I had to work some but I hated 9 to 5 and never really got serious about working or a career until I finally laid it down.
Q. How long were your road trips?
A. Not as long as you would like to think. We might go somewhere looking for one guy and hit a few more small towns and bars going to and from. We would always try and find a boarding house to stay in. Not because of the rooms because you knew you were going to be playing all night if you were lucky. The meals were only .50 cents and they were home cooking.
Q. Did you have a Stakehorse or play with your own money.
A. My own money always. I mean, I might have to borrow money if I was busted but I'm the one doing all the work. It's a hard way to make a living, twice as hard if your splitting with someone.
Q. What was your longest trip?
A. Me and Halyburton were sitting around the pool room and I was bust. He was a school teacher at the time. School had just let out for the summer and he said he had $200 bucks so we hit the road. We went down through Georgia ,Alabama and Texas and took the backdoor into California. I played for 6 weeks and got back to Charleston with about $250. It was a great vacation (laughs).
Q. What type cue did you play with?
A. You ever hear of a Rambo?
Q. You still have the Rambo Richard?
A. I walked into Tuckers and got steered to Don Guffey. Really, if I'm playing my best and he is playing his, we are not supposed to play. My first child was only 6 months old and maybe I just wasn't focused. Don busted me and I got to thinking that maybe it was time to lay it down. I called Joe Cosgrove (good player) I had bought the Rambo from him when he was on hard times with a promise that if I ever sold it I would call him first. I said "Joe, you want this Rambo back?" He said he did and I said I'm putting it on the bus right now, wire me $100. He did and I didn't pick a cue up for 10 years. I tried to stage a little rally about 1971 but I couldn't get my game where it was. It was a serious little game I had there for a while. So I quit and didn't play again until I started playing with you here at Charleston Masters 9 Ball.. It is the only league or team play that I have ever been involved with. It's a lot of fun. I'm having a good time. I just wish I could play a little. (laughs).
Note: In my twenty some odd years playing, I haven't had a period of time that I have enjoyed more than playing with Richard. It is a story that has likely repeated itself many times in the history of the game but for men to lay down their way of life for their little girl speaks to the character of the man. You want to guess who was the first person in the room the first night that he played with us? You got it, that same baby girl got there before he did making sure her daddy was in the right place. He is!
What type of cue do you play with? Josey 19-3/8 oz. and 12.78 mm Tiger Laminate shaft
What type of tip do you prefer? Moori - Medium
What type of case do you use? Instroke
What type of case would you like to have? Hard Back - Suit case style
What type of cue would you like to have? Richard Black
How do you feel about your involvement with Charleston Masters 9 Ball?
Charleston Masters 9 Ball is a league for the advanced amateur player. It is the only league which pays back all money received to the players. Pay outs to the winners for each session are approximately $3,500-$4,000. We have a tournament every 12 weeks. It gives the amateur player a chance to improve their game while having fun at the same time.
What is your favorite quote? Keep your head down
What is your history in pool?
I started playing in the late '50's and early 1960's and became one of the top players in S.C. Winning local nine ball tournaments and had a high run of 109 balls in straight pool led to matches with many of the top pro players such as Eddie Taylor, Johnny Irish, Bill "Weenie Beenie" Staton, E.J. Puckett, Bloomingthal, Danny Jones (Handsome Danny, Kennesaw) and Eldridge Tucker. Tucker, also of Charleston SC. was truly an outstanding player who won numerous major pro tournaments.
Tucker and I made many road trips before I retired from playing in 1967. After a 35 year sabatical, I started playing again 10-12 years ago. After three months of pratice I joined the Mizerak Senior Tour and placed 10th (in the money) in my second tournament. I am currently playing Charleston Masters 9 Ball.
Bill Allen has had such an extensive and amazing billiard career. He started working in his dad's (O.A. Allen ) pool room when he was eight years old. He started gambling when he was fourteen. Bill was mentored by his father and also none other than the great Ralph Greenleaf. I asked Bill just how good Ralph Greenleaf really was. "Well, I played good enough that Dad kept a hundred dollar bill in a coffee can behind the bar. All you had to do was come and get it. I only lost that hundred dollar bill one time to a road man named "Tennessee". How many road men came for it? Oh, 15 maybe 20 guys. I could not get close to Ralph Greenleaf though. We played a lot of Snooker. I'd run 70 points in Snooker and he would beat me while he was drinking the fifth of whiskey that he drank every day. He was the best I ever saw by far". "I also played Minnesota Fats (he was New York Fats then). He talked a lot and I beat him pretty easily. I also played Keith Mcready in a tournament here in Charleston and beat him and also the road guy Mark Jarvis and a couple more good ones, hell I can't remember anymore. I played Mike Bell who was one hell of a player in his day. Did you have a road name? I never really played on the road. I've been raising 6 children all of my life. "I worked for Tucker doing cue repairs and Robert Shockley at the Idle Hour Saloon in North Charleston. It's impossible to gamble and raise a family. I mostly played small tournaments and those guys called me Panama Jack because of the hat I used to wear (a rare smile). Did you ever play major tournaments? "Well, I've won regionals and been to Vegas four or five times. I finished 5th out there one year and placed in the money a couple of other times. Is there any one thing in your billiard career that you are particularly proud of? Well yes. I never sluffed off. I never hustled anyone. Whether we are gambling or practicing, you get to see the same show.
Note: Having been married to Bill's beautiful daughter for the past 32 years and I have not only been present for some of the most amazing feats of shot making and cue ball control, I have suffered greatly at his hands. I have been playing this guy for 32 years and I haven't beaten him yet. We're still young though. We got time! I tell everyone this about Bill. "If my life was hanging in the balance of one shot being made, I want Bill shooting it. He might miss the ball but I promise you this, HE WILL NOT CHOKE!
Sept 10th,2015 I finally got past him in a race to 9. He is 84 now and he didn't speak to me for a week.