William Frederick Hoppe (October 11, 1887 – February 1, 1959), known predominantly as Willie Hoppe (surname rhymes with "poppy"), was an internationally renowned American professional carom billiards champion, who was posthumously inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1966.
Hoppe was born in Cornwall on Hudson, New York on October 11, 1887. He won 51 world titles between 1906 and 1952, in three forms of carom billiards: three-cushion, (four sub-disciplines of) balkline and cushion caroms. He died on February 1, 1959 in Miami, Florida. He is buried in Whitemarsh Cemetery in Ambler, Pa.
Hoppe won 51 world titles between 1906 and 1952. He was also known for various long-standing high runs, including scoring 2,000 contiguous points in straight rail, 622 points in 18.2 balkline, and a run of 25 points in three-cushion. He once made a tournament average of 1.333, a world record (at that time, but since broken).
Hoppe published his first book, Thirty Years of Billiards, in 1925, and followed this up many years later with the introductory work, Billiards As It Should Be Played, in 1941. Hoppe's peculiar style of stroke was a result of his career as a child prodigy. He barely reached the table and had to stand on a box. In Billiards As It Should Be Played Hoppe emphatically advised players not to use his way of directing the cue.
After winning the world title in 1952, Hoppe retired from title play and became a goodwill ambassador for the sport by conducting a series of exhibition matches. Hoppe was the only pocket billiards player to ever put on an exhibition in the White House. He performed before President Wiliam Taft in 1911.
He was ranked number 1 on the Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century.
Titles and tournament wins
- World 18.1 Balkline Champion (1906, 1908-1911, 1914-1927)
- World 18.2 Balkline Champion (1907, 1910-1920, 1923, 1924, 1927)
- World three-cushion Champion (1936, 1940-1943, 1947-1952)
- "Names make news". Time Magazine (Time) LXX (17). October 21, 1957. Retrieved May 2, 2009. "Expressing regret at what has happened to his favorite game ("It's down now where bowling used to be"), William Frederick (Willie) Hoppe (rhymes with poppy), former world champion of three-cushion billiards, celebrated his 70th birthday in Miami retirement."
- Charles Earle Funk (1936). "What's the Name, Please?". Literary Digest (Funk & Wagnalls). "According to an intimate friend of many years' standing, it rimes [sic] with copy"[clarification needed]
- A character of the film Born Yesterday uses this pronunciation.
- United Press International (February 2, 1959). "Willie Hoppe Dead; Master of Billiards" (subscription or fee required). The New York Times. p. 1.
- Hoppe, Willie (November 1946). "How to Play Three-Cushion Billiards". Popular Mechanics (Hearst Magazines) 86 (5): 123. ISSN 0032-4558.
- "Billiards King Willie Hoppe Dies At 71". United Press International. February 3, 1959. Retrieved 2010-09-28. "Willie Hoppe the king of billiards, died late today in a Miami hospital, ending one of the longest and colorful sports careers of the past ..."
- "Willie Hoppe, Who Made Billiards Household Name", The Hartford Courant, 2 February 1959 [Retrieved 24 July 2011]
- "Hoppe, Cue Great, Dies", The Milwaukee Sentinel, 2 February 1959 [Retrieved 24 July 2011]
- "Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century".
Personal observation of grave on December 3, 2013 by B.W.Jackson.
- Willie Hoppe bio at BilliardsForum
- Willie Hoppe in exhibition with Welker Cochran
- Willie Hoppe Exhibition for U.S. Armed Forces