Billiards Referee Tells His Side of Story
An Interview with Frank Del Pizzo
There have been a lot of rumors as to why Earl Strickland was disqualified from the Diamond Open 10-Ball Professional Players Championship, so InsidePOOL went to tournament director Frank Del Pizzo and asked for his side of the story.
“There were three separate incidents with Earl,” Del Pizzo began. “He played the match with Jose Parica and he was being loud and sharking other players on other tables, so I had to ask him to stop yelling to the crowd … He’s playing Jose Parica, who’s a gentleman in there. So I asked him to stop talking to the crowd—we’re not allowing it, it’s something we went over in the players’ meeting … I said to him to stop, and he gets up and he says, ‘You’re a fool. You’re a fool. You have no idea what you’re doing.’ I said, ‘You’re warned.’ And then I told him, ‘Don’t ruin your day, Earl. You’re warned.’
Del Pizzo continued, “And then he got a couple different little things where I had to tell him to calm down, and he made it through the entire set after that … He won, and then playing Alex, he immediately started in on Alex, on the rack. The rack was sideways, so he came over and said, ‘The rack’s sideways.’ So I went over and looked, and it was sideways, so I helped Alex fix it. He racked and then ran out, and then Earl ran out, and then back and forth, and then Alex started to pull away from him and the antics got worse and worse and worse.
“He [Earl] was yelling at the crowd, yelling at Alex, telling Alex not to do certain things, just sharking, constantly sharking. I warned him again, and it got to the point where he was losing at this point now. It was the first shot on the table. It was the one ball, he was going to bank the one so he took the cue and went whack whack whack whack whack on the side pocket like ‘It’s going in here!’ and he was whacking the side of the table.
“I went out and told him [Earl] to stop and that was when he called me a clown,” Del Pizzo recalled. “He said, ‘You’re a clown.’ And I asked him to stop and said, ‘You can either stop or you can go.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ll go then.’ I said, ‘Then go then. You’re all done. Just go.’ And he said, ‘I’ll execute my second option.’ I said, ‘Which is?’ He said, ‘I’ll finish.’ I said, ‘Okay, then keep your mouth shut and finish. There are other players in this poolroom. There are other players in here that are playing. Keep your mouth shut and finish. This is your final warning. That’s it. There will be no other warnings.’
“When it came to his match later in the evening, the matches, because they’re races to ten, they go a little long sometimes. One was about fifteen to twenty minutes late, which is not really bad, if you think about it, considering it went hill-hill. He is standing out [in the hallway] pacing and people wanted to take pictures with him, and I was standing over there by the water, and these people want to take a picture with him. He goes, ‘Why would I want to take a picture with you?’
“These are fans,” Del Pizzo explained. “[Earl says] ‘Why would I want to take a picture with you? What am I, a clown? Am I funny to you? Is that why you want to take a picture?’ He says to the people, ‘Why don’t you take a picture with the tournament director? He’s a fool. Why don’t you take a picture with him?’ So I said, ‘Earl. Don’t come in here like that. Don’t start like that.’
“The table finally cleared off that I could put him on, and I said, ‘Come on Earl.’ He followed me in, and as he’s walking in he’s yelling and talking to the people, and I said, ‘Earl, just knock it off, we’ve got players playing here. Just stop.’ I finally got him down to the table, and he said, ‘Where’s my opponent? He should be here.’ I said, ‘Well, he has fifteen minutes, from the time I call his name, to get here.’
“‘Call him? You gotta call him?’
“‘No, Earl. From the time I call him. You know what, Earl? You’re done. You’re just all done. Winner by default, Hancock. You know what else? Your behavior is unbecoming of a professional. You’re an embarrassment to this tournament and to this business, and you’re done. Winner by default, Hancock. Disqualified. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Earl Strickland on Table Seven. Disqualified.’ And I walked out. He walked out like a mouse and didn’t say a word. Tried to stare me down and I stared right back.
Del Pizzo continued, “I don’t care what you do, but you disrespect this tournament, which is Allen Hopkins’ tournament, you’re disrespecting every player that’s in that room, every fan that’s paid to come in here. You’re disrespecting me, you’re disrespecting Allen who’s worked nineteen years to make this what it is. He is not an ambassador to this sport. It’s really not nice what he does. It’s not right what he does. On the street, I wouldn’t let anyone talk to me like that, and I’m not going to let it happen in there.
Regarding his feelings about Earl, Del Pizzo clarified, “Whatever that man plays—nine-ball, ten-ball, one-pocket, straight pool—he can play it lights out. He truly is very good. Probably one of the best. That gives you no right. I’m a performer. I wouldn’t walk into a room and insult my room, because they’re there to see me, and then insult them because they applaud the person before me because he’s not as funny as I am or I think he might not be as funny as I am. It’s wrong. You thank the people for being there. You show them that you appreciate them being there by being a gentleman to yourself, number one, and number two, to the people that are watching you and to the other people around you. These guys are all performers. This is how they make their living. It’s ridiculous. It’s unheard of. I don’t like it. I don’t allow it. He’s welcome to come back, but if he acts the same way, he’s going home early again.”
Please check Inside POOL Video Youtube Channel in the near future for the Frank Del Pizzo interview.