Sport: Behind the Eight-Ball

As a kid of seven, Willie Mosconi was wan and trigger-tempered. In South Philadelphia he was famed as a deadly accurate pool shooter. Many an afternoon he shuffled into his father's barber shop and heard his Pa say: "Willie, there's a man in the back room who thinks he's better than you." Willie would grab a cue and go to work—with Pa betting as high as $100 on his boy. Business was brisk, and Willie got better with age.

Last week, prematurely grey at 33, Willie Mosconi stepped nimbly about the curtain-enclosed arena in...

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