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SHORTSTOP STORIES (by Paul Marquez) “Diamond Bill”

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This is a story about a hero of mine. Diamond Bill from Pleasant Hill, he never worked and he never will.
I can’t really tell you the years involved, there were many. I can’t remember all the times he was good. I can’t really recall the times he wasn’t. I just remember Bill Cress, and he changed my life.

A tall man with voice that could carry throughout the entire pool room. When Bill spoke, you wanted to listen. He knew more about pool than any man I had ever met. Players could easily recognize his brilliance when it came to pool. A lifelong hustler who dedicated his entire being to big table pool and gambling in the pool hall. I’d like to share with you, my experiences with Bill. That which are forever etched in my mind.

When Bill lived in Portland, I rushed to the pool hall every day. He was so live. So much action. I couldn’t wait to be in his presence! He had all the Portland players playing straight pool and one pocket. And for the first time, gambling daily. We’d never experienced this in Portland before. We’re not known for being an action town. But that all changed when he showed up.

One particular day, I rushed to the pool hall. I parked in the lot and hustled in giddy anticipation toward the door. I found Bill outside on the sidewalk, standing still. Stoic. I realized in this moment, that he was sending the double bird to the big man in the sky. My first reaction at the time was to laugh, but his stillness was poetic. I stood there and watched him like this for some 3 minutes. 3 minutes of eternity. It was like Captain Dan having his discussions with God during the storm in Forrest Gump.

Why this life?
Why me?
I never deserved any of this.
I came to realize that this was one of his darkest times. And dark times were always accompanied by chemical abuse. We all have demons.

It’s uncomfortable to tell the truth sometimes because you only want to praise your heroes. With Bill, this is a challenge. I’m choosing to only attack this conflict with transparency, my intention is not to offend. But this moment of time was, as they say in pool, “tough action”.

I became roommates with Bill and started learning more about the why’s of his chosen life. Bottom line, in my opinion, he didn’t love himself. And it’s too bad, anyone that knew him knows he was definitely worth loving.

Before he arrived in Portland, the pool room was pretty boring. And to be honest, we weren’t very good. Not that we couldn’t compete with other bar table players, it’s just that we didn’t know what we were doing. I was a B player hoping to cash in a daily bar tournament or beat somebody out of some dough at the pool hall at the time. When Bill arrived, I noticed the best players in the room admired him greatly, even players that may have played at a higher level. Like I stated before when Bill spoke, the pool room listened.

Bill would occasionally hit you with the bite. Being a professional pool hall hustler is not lucrative, and you need money to gamble with, so he might ask for some dough. This sounds absurd as I write this, but all the bites he got off of me, as I reflect now, were nothing in comparison to what he gave me. I knew this man could change my game, and being a tight hustler myself, I needed to find out what he knew. And that didn’t cost me anything, I figured it out.

Bill got to the pool hall at 10am. It was his office. I decided to start getting there when he did. I did this for two straight weeks. As he had his two cups of coffee, I played straight pool right directly in front of him. Table 1.

He couldn’t stand how bad I was, and he was my friend, lol. So, you see, he really couldn’t help himself…
“PAUL! No no no no, you need to do this, not that.”
“Johnny Archer stands like this.”
” Only Efren does it this way.”
” Buddy Hall’s pause and stillness changed his game.”
“Two is better than one , one is better than none.”
“The Monk does is this way (the real Monk, Warren Costanza).”

That two-week period changed how I look at pool. It changed how I play pool. It still inspires me daily.
That two-week hustler to hustler relationship made my 12 ball running B player level rise to a pretty damn tough amateur running 99 balls and the end of those two weeks!

I shocked myself.
I remember the comments I was receiving about my improvements from peers.
I remember the complaints from other B players as I won 4 B tournaments in a row.
I remember Russ Pettis sitting me down, apologizing that I could no longer play in those tournaments.
No apology necessary Russ.

To this day, I love straight pool and one pocket because of Bill. Later in life, I realized I wasn’t the only one touched by his brilliance. Amar Kang, Tony Chohan, John Dougherty, Timmy Tweedel, Brad Gowin, John Morabito and many others who I don’t know. When Chohan told me Bill taught him how to play one pocket I almost fell out of my chair.

I will always miss Diamond Bill from Pleasant Hill. He never worked, he never will.

Thank you, Bill.
– Paul Marquez

8 thoughts on “SHORTSTOP STORIES (by Paul Marquez) “Diamond Bill””

  1. Thanks for taking the time and sharing Paul!! What we gain from relationships is so often overlooked, this is a great reminder of how much we should mean to one another.

  2. Great story. Past mentors have a soft place in our hearts. Although I did not know Diamond Bill I can relate to the love you shabd for one person that took dome time to help your game.
    I am lucky my of my main mentors is still with us shooting pool in his 90’s.

  3. Awesome story. Well written. I remember meeting him when he live with Big Jimmy. The good old days. Sure do miss those guys!

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