Crossing Paths With Glenn Atwell

Paul Marquez

I met Glenn Atwell in the early nineties and befriended him in the late nineties.  During that period of time Glenn as a player figured something out while practicing and soon after began his legend.  Glenns  legend or story is constantly growing in my community of players . But Glenn, his legend and story has just begun.  Some people have great achievements occur outside or without a title or a check attached to it.  Glenn is more than a local player with skill.  The bottom line is  Glenn is our best player.  By far. He also improved after 50 years of age.  Remarkable.

Well not that remarkable if you know him.  Glenn is dedicated. He wins on the road and is considered one of the best bar table players in the world.  He actually plays all tables, and all games well. I haven’t witnessed many. Glenn’s moments that most would consider remarkable, like The Reno Bar Box two years ago. Or even any moments that may have meant a lot to him. But for me, like most pool player’s around here,  Glenn gives us something to remember. Some particular  Glenn’s events for me I would like to share.

The year 1994 ish.  Shortly after winning the US Amateur National Championship a road player known as Mexican Johnny came through town barbecueing people one handed.  Seriously .  One handed. My turn closing and employed with keys to Sheehans Chalk and Roll I  watched Glenn rob Johnny at nine ball while the Mexican Hustler robbed him back at one pocket. Both needed weight in the others  game of choice.  The weight either 9 to 7 playing one hole or the 7 and the breaks playing nine ball did not matter. Both were unbeatable in their field. Glenn offered the 6 at one point.  Johnny refused.   Johnny with his stakehorse kept going to their car for a” powder break” while Glenn who is drug free battled until early the next morning.  They broke even. That’s when I learned about heart.  Years later I understood how good Mexican Johnny was . He was great nine ball player.   Glenn was better.

Other memorable moments have been noticing  how other champions react to Glenn. 1998 ish   An all time  favorite pool moment cast a player with beautiful stroke , and amazing energy. This classy player named  John Bear came to Portland and played in a tournament at Classic Billiards here in Portland.  Bears complete focus was on Glenn after losing to Atwell.  Everytime Glenn walked anywhere John Bear shook his cue towards Glenn playfully no matter how involved Bear was in a current match. It was as if he knew nobody was left to fear until they  would meet again in the finals. As Bear skillfullly predicted it,  it was Bear and Glenn again.  It was Glenn who defeated the awesome personable John Bear.   That weekend or moments kept me in pool when I considered quitting. I instead had incentive or a reason  to take pool more seriously as a player.   It was hard,  it was exiting and most of all fun.   I lightened up as a player, especially  in tournaments.  Quintessential moment without a doubt.

Fast forward now to  2001 ish. Paul Potier and Stan Torangeau were playing for the point at a tournament and arrived together after stepping out for food some where.  They both rushed over together to read the loser bracket . I noticed and asked Stan what was up . Stan laughed and said “to see where Glenn is of course !” This moment taught me that the neighborhood local pool champion was someone formidable. To learn from as well as pay close attention too.  It secured the notion that he’s the real deal.  The next decade of success  proved the same realization for the nation.

So Now ish.  The little things.  Every pool event in Portland has people mentioning  Glenn in some way.   Although winning is a priority Glenn is a welcome face to Portland tournament goers. We want to play him, be coached by him and earn his respect.  Sometimes to be honest we want to send him home early. Which is unfair really since no matter the odds of him being beat in the finals of a small tournament,   Glenn chooses to split the dough . A kind gesture as to say   to the other finalist  “Good job,  you played well enough to win this tournament so you deserve it.” In case nobody ever says it ” Thanks for chopping Glenn. Your successes lately are amazing and  we really want you to keep it up. Your our horse. Giddyup!!  Thanks for all the advice and you know deep down in my heart,   with respect. I hope to learn , and continue to admire your play . Oh and of course hopefully drill you soon. Paul

Filipinos in pool

Paul Marquez

I just never knew. My grandfather is all Filipino and is 100 years old. He arrived in San Francisco in1939. Because of him I knew many Filipinos and was a member of the Filipino/American society. I learned many things about the islands and history. Nobody ever mentioned pool to me.

I knew that Filipinos were fearless warriors and their ferociousness changed military strategies. I knew that Filipinos were the greatest cane fighters in every type of stick martial arts offered.  Filipino systems are the only systems considered or mentioned. The point is, if Filipinos did something special, it was mentioned. Maybe in pool they were always the best, and I just did not hear about it.  But how is it they are the strongest among all countries? Since when?  Always? Or, did Efren and Jose Parica expose the Filipino excellence and dominance? Only to spark the Filipino people to step it up a level or two when they had something to celebrate? After Imelda’s Rule, the Philippines needed something to celebrate.

The timing to me makes me think, so I wonder? Maybe all Filipinos are naturally gifted? Really? Everyone talks about the Filipino stroke and how graceful they move the cue ball. Well, Alex Pagulayan plays without this so called Filipino stroke and is AZ Billiards number one player in the world. This may be a hypothesis or guess if you will. Here it is. “The Filipinos played quality pool. The mixture of billiards and rotation helped them understand 9ball and one pocket quickly. Rotation with all the balls improves kicking at balls, I mean how could it not. Jose Parica then Efren were special and these special players gave the Filipinos something to be excited about and to be proud of. Then without a doubt Efren was the best player in the world. The best! More pride and more inspiration. Heroes and inspiration the Philippines desperately needed and hoped for.

It’s tough there and some validation from the entire world that Filipino people are capable of anything . This had changed the island for the better forever. “I am part Filipino and I believe Efren Reyes, with support of Alex Pagalayan, Francisco Bustamante, and Jose Parica had an impact as enormous as Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens did here in America. When I recently went to a niece’s birthday party and it was revealed I played upper level pool. Then the talks about these special men excited the entire room. I shared a story unremarkable to most. The story, Vegas 2001 I played craps with Efren and Alex at the Riviera and was personally pretty giddy about the whole experience. Not as giddy as family at my nieces party. I realized I may as well have played craps with Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali, with some involvement with Abraham Lincoln in some way.

If this type of inspiration remains consistent like it has been with pool, the world should expected an influx of Filipino boxers to dominate. Without a doubt Manny Pacqiou has become the world’s best fighter. I wonder if Efren gave Manny what he needed in some way. I do know Manny through a pool tournament at Hard Times, a coincidence? Maybe, or maybe Efren Reyes happened to change the world. A change directly affected the Filipino people, including a better self image. Am I crazy? I mean a third world island or suggested reaction caused pool players is conspiracy craziness right? I mean to suggest the world is better now and potentially better forever is crazy voodoo right? A voodoo or spell the cause? But just maybe it would have to be some god, witch, warlock or super hero behind it. Do you believe I’m those things?  If it’s my only guess.  For my case dough.  I’m betting this grandiose miraculous claim is being done by a magician.