The Place: The Starlight Room at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC
The Event: "The Challenge of the Legends"
The Headliners: Willie Mosconi vs. Minnesota Fats
The Host: Howard Cosell (pronounced "HOWWWID CO-SELL!")
This special moment in time took place on national television one weeknight, on a special edition of Wide World of Sports on ABC-TV. This very special event drew a 'who's who' of pool playing masters that evening. In addition to Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats, there was Irving Crane, Allen Hopkins and Steve Mizerak (among others). The event was promoted as "The Match of the Century, Heavyweight Championship of Pool" and billed as "The Great Pool Shoot-Out". Besides a colorful and highly skilled cast of characters, there was a special pool table being utilized as the centerpiece of the tournament. It was a limited edition, custom-made pool table called "The Hudson".
Although 40 years have passed since "The Challenge of the Legends", there will never be another event quite like it. Surely there are many masters of the game that have come on the scene since this auspicious event in the history of pool & billiards.
But what made this event so special and so unique was the headlining match-up between two very different personalities in the sport of American pool & billiards - one a sharp-tongued, larger-than-life figure in the game (upon whose life the iconic film "The Hustler" was made) and the other a quiet and reserved grand-master of the game, who's machine-like precision is still looked upon as the benchmark for pool players today. The commentator Howard Cosell, who needs no introduction, voiced over the competition as he had so many legendary sporting match-ups before and since - from Muhammad Ali's boxing matches to being one of the seminal voices of Monday Night Football.
This unique collision of personalities in that space and time will never be duplicated. While the main players and cast of characters have passed on since then, the table upon which all this history took place is still around and resides in its original tournament condition** for sale here at Loria. Next month will mark the 40th anniversary since "The Challenge of the Legends" in 1978, and that very table, "The Hudson" (by Brunswick), is accruing more collector's value than ever before!
So if you are interested in owning a genuine piece of American sports history, look no further than 1876 Central Park Avenue in Yonkers, New York.
Click here for a clip of this iconic event in the history of American pool & billiards: "The Challenge of the Legends"
Click here for more information on "The Challenge of the Legends" broadcast on ABC-TV in 1978.
**All components, including the original finish of "The Hudson" pool table are exactly the same as during "The Challenge of the Legends" tournament and have been preserved since then, with the exception of the leather pocket covers (which were replaced with exact replicas of the original).