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Fans take cue from pool star

July 15, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN-For Mike Massey, billiard balls gyrate, jump in the air, spin around obstacles and dart yo-yo-like back to their master before they plop into pockets.

Nothing was routine on Saturday, when Massey brought his poolroom wizardry to Hagerstown Billiards & Cafe on Dual Highway.

Massey - a top trick-shot artist often seen competing on ESPN - explained his techniques, played against challengers and, above all, put on a show.

Wearing a wireless microphone, Massey showed how to arrange a clump of balls that, when hit, will send the 8-ball in the middle directly into a pocket.

Then, he let amateurs do it. It worked.

He showed fans one of his trademark trick shots, the machine-gun mass.

A mass is a shot in which the pool cue strikes a ball vertically instead of horizontally, creating an unusual spin to make the ball dance, spin and curve.

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The "machine gun" part was the cue ball hitting a line of balls and bouncing off the rail, back and forth, rapid fire.

The crowd also enjoyed Massey's "finger pool." He took each ball in his hand and rolled it with a bowling-ball spin that made it curve near the end of the table and squirt in a different direction, knocking another ball into a pocket.

One of his closing tricks was striking a ball so it sprang off the table and into a cowboy boot. He did it on the first try.

Massey, who lives in Tennessee, won his first professional 9-ball title in 1971 at the age of 24, according to the International Pool Tour's Web site.

He won ESPN's Trick Shot Magic title in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.

The Web site says he was named Best in the History of the Game by Billiards Digest.

To Brenda Renner of Martinsburg, W.Va., the honor is well-deserved.

"He's the best," she said after getting an autographed picture of Massey. "He has a great personality - the same as if he's on TV. He's my favorite."

Brady Munson, 8, almost beat Massey in one of several matches the star played against amateurs on Saturday.

Massey let Brady break, then take the next shot. Massey also used only one hand for each shot.

Brady's brother, Bryce, 12, also came tantalizingly close to a win in an earlier match.

Their mother, Tammy, said the boys and their 7-year-old sister, Breanna, play a lot because Tammy Munson and her husband, Roger, own the place. They bought it in October.

Dena Cornwell of Hagerstown fondly recalled meeting and playing against Massey at a Las Vegas casino about 22 years ago.

"He broke and ran the table on me," she said.

In Saturday's rematch, Cornwell broke, but Massey sank several balls during his turn.

Then, he missed.

Cornwell came back and won, earning her a free copy of his book.

"I'm glad ESPN wasn't here," Massey joked.

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