Ralf Souquet, DANNY DILIBERTO EARN ENSHRINEMENT IN BILLIARD CONGRESS OF AMERICA HALL OF FAME
Versatility and longevity are the common threads that bind 2011 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame inductees Ralf Souquet and Danny DiLiberto, who earned election into pool’s hallowed halls in voting conducted by the United States Billiard Media Association. Souquet, 42, and DiLiberto, 76, will be formally inducted into Greatest Player wing of the BCA Hall of Fame on Oct. 20 during ceremonies at the Chesapeake Marriott in Chesapeake, Va.
Souquet, born in Eschweiler, Germany, has been a dominant player in Europe for more than 25 years, having won more than 40 German titles and 34 European Championship medals. But his record is nearly as impressive in top U.S. and international events. “The Kaiser,” as Souquet is known, boasts world titles in both 9-ball (1996) and 8-ball (2004), a gold medal in 9-ball at the 2009 World Games, and is a four-time winner of the World Pool Masters. On American soil, Souquet owns a BCA U.S. Open 14.1 Championship crown (2000), a U.S. Open 9-Ball title (2002), a pair of BCA Open 9-Ball Championship titles, and has won the Derby City 9-ball crown three times.
“This is great news!” said Souquet, who had finished second in Hall of Fame voting to Francisco Bustamante in 2010. “It’s a great honor. When you talk about the greatest players, like Archer and Strickland and Varner, they’re all in the Hall of Fame. Being mentioned in the same list with those names is a great achievement.”
Souquet becomes the seventh foreign-born player inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame.
“I’m also proud to be the first European male player in the Hall of Fame,” Souquet added. “I think it’s probably harder for a foreign player to be voted in, but it’s nice that the American pool community believes that my overall game and approach to the sport has been positive. I must have done something right.”
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., DiLiberto chose billiards ahead of boxing, bowling and baseball, all sports at which the multi-talented athlete excelled. In fact, DiLiberto boxed professionally and was undefeated as a professional fighter. Under the tutelage of famed trainer Angelo Dundee, and boxing under the name Danny Toriani, DiLiberto posted a 14-0-2 record, with 12 knockouts in the late ’50s, until his oft-injured hands forced him to retire from the ring.
Boxing’s loss was billiards’ gain, as the colorful DiLiberto spent nearly 30 years near the top of the game. DiLiberto won numerous national-class tournaments in the ’60s, but was at his peak in the 1970s when 14.1 was the game of champions in the pool world. After falling in the title match of the prestigious BCA U.S. Open 14.1 championship in both 1968 (to Joe Balsis) and 1972 (to Steve Mizerak), DiLiberto won the straight pool division at the 1972 Johnston City World All-Around Championships. DiLiberto then went on to defeat 9-ball division champ Billy Incardona and one-pocket division winner Larry “Boston Shorty” Johnson in a three-man playoff to earn the Johnston City All-Around crown.
DiLiberto’s versatility at the table shown through in the ’80s when he defeated Nick Varner in the title match to win the 1981 BCA National 8-Ball Championship, then won the ’83 World One-Pocket title and the 1984 Classic Cup 9-Ball crown, giving him a major national title in the four major pool disciplines.
“I’m really choked up,” DiLiberto said after being informed of the honor. “I really thought the Hall of Fame would wait until I was dead to vote for me. It’s truly an honor. This makes my day, my month, my year!”
Voting was conducted by the USBMA Hall of Fame Board, which consists of USBMA members, elected At-Large members and living members of the BCA Hall of Fame. Induction in the Greatest Players category is awarded to the player named on the most ballots. A second player is elected if both players are named on more than 70 percent of the ballots. Souquet was named on 65 percent of the ballots. Karen Corr received votes on 56 percent of the ballots. No other eligible player was named on more than 25 percent of the ballots. To be eligible for consideration in the Greatest Player category, a player a) must be 40 years old by Jan. 1 of the year of their induction; b) must have a professional playing career of at least 10 years; and c) must have recorded significant achievements in U.S.-based events.
DiLiberto is the first player elected to the Greatest Player wing of the BCA Hall of Fame through recommendation of the Veterans Committee. The Veterans Committee, a committee elected by the USBMA, reviews the resumes of mid-20th century players unlikely to win election against contemporary stars, and players who failed to be elected through the general Greatest Players elections prior to turning 60 years of age. A player recommended by the Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame Board must receive a simple majority of “Yes” votes from the board for election.