McCreery & Three cushion billiards

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Wayman Crow McCreery (1851 - 1901) is regarded as one of the founding fathers of three-cushion billiards. He was a gifted amateur billiard player. A remarkable figure, man of many trades and skills. Real estate agent, musician and internal revenue collector for St-Louis appointed by president Cleveland in 1897.
 
He participated in 1878 in the first recorded 3-cushion tournament organised in his home town St-Louis which was won by New Yorker Leon Magnus. As McCreery was an influencial business man in St-Louis it is not unlikely that he did organize and/or sponsor this tournament.
 
Page 602 of Modern Billiards, the 1891 edition, chapter 'Records of Cushion Carom Game' states the following: "1878. Tournament. Mussey's Billard Room, St. Louis, Mo., concluding date january 20th. - Tournament amount nor value of prizes and size of table not reported. Games 50 points up. Contestants - L.L. Magnus, first; Eugene F. Carter and T.J. Gallagher made a tie for second place. The other contestants were Wayman C. Mc Creery, J. Randolph Heiser, and Mr. Post. Best run of tournament, 6, by Gallagher. No further report of average and runs."      
 
"MR. WAYMAN CROW McCREERY of St. Louis has been recognized for many years as the foremost amateur billiard expert of Missouri and west of the Mississippi River. Wayman Crow McCreery was born in St. Louis, Mo., on June 14th, 1851; is 5 feet 11 inches in height, and weighs 205 lbs."
 
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Wayman was the son of Phocian R. McCreery and Mary Jane (Hynes) McCreery. His father was born in Kentucky, but had settled in St. Louis eleven years previous to Wayman's birth, and had gone into the dry goods business in partnership with Mr. Wayman Crow, the firm being known as Crow, McCreery & Company. It did a very large amount of profitable business, and Mr. McCreery invested much of his share of the profits in real estate. His name is connected with some of the best buildings in the city, including the building at the corner of Broadway and Chestnut street, now known as Hurst's Hotel, which was erected in 1861, and which was, at that time, the finest building in the city. His enterprise proved a great stimulus to the erection of costly office and public buildings, and his example was very generally followed. His mother, Mary Jane McCreery, was a daughter of Colonel Andrew Hynes, of Nashville, Tennessee, who was a bosom friend of General Andrew Jackson.

Young Wayman received his educational training at the Washington University, where he remained until he was eighteen years of age. He was an apt and industrious pupil and made rapid progress in his studies. On leaving the Washington University he went to Racine, Wisconsin, where he received a thorough university education, graduating with high honors in the year 1871. Returning to the city of his birth and early days, he became connected with the dry goods firm of Crow & McCreery, remaining with it for three years. He then entered the real estate business in partnership with Mr. James Towers, the firm name being McCreery & Towers, with offices at 705 Pine street. The firm continued as thus constituted for a period of twelve years, when Mr. Towers withdrew from the partnership, and Mr. McCreery continued in business alone, at 715 Chestnut street. There is no real estate agent in the West more highly respected or looked up to than Mr. McCreery. He has been appointed sole agent for the magnificent Security Building on Fourth and Locust streets, in which his offices are now located. His principal work during recent years has been the management and control of large and valuable estates, and he has been uniquely successful in the plotting out and development of valuable tracts of land. He was in practical control of the Concordia tract containing fourteen acres, which he subdivided and sold at a very substantial profit for the owners. He also negotiated the ninety-nine years' lease of the corner of Tenth and Olive streets, now occupied by the Bell Telephone Company, and he is practically the pioneer of the long term system in this city.

"For years he has been actively engaged in real estate in his native city, and is the Secretary and Treasurer of the Security Building. As a musician he is perhaps even more famous than as a billiardist. For twenty three years he has had charge of the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, and has been prominent as a tenor soloist. He composed the opera "L'Afrique," which was produced with great success in New York City some years ago. In 1897, President Cleveland appointed Mr. McCreery as Collector of Internal Revenue of the First District of Missouri.
Mr. McCreery's charming manner and attractive appearance have endeared him to all who know him. In social life many honors have been bestowed upon him. He is a member and Chairman of the Entertainment Committee of the St. Louis Club, prominent in the Country Club, Secretary of the Noonday Club, a genial spirit of the University Club, and President of the St. Louis Cricket Club. He is a leader in all of the prominent social events of St. Louis." He married in the year 1875 Miss Mary Louisa Carr, daughter of Dabney Carr, and granddaughter of Judge Carr, so well known in East St. Louis. They have four children-Mary Louisa, Christine, Wayman and Andrew.
 
"As a billiardist, Mr. McCreery won the Amateur Championship of Missouri in 1868. He defended the challenge emblem three times successfully afterward and it then became his property. He defeated Alonzo Morris (professional) at a game of 100 points of 3-cushions, in 53 innings. He ran a game of 15 points of 3-cushions against Eugene Carter (professional) in two innings; and, against Frank Day, ran a game of 10 points of 3-cushions out in one inning from the lead. His largest runs (in actual contests) are as follows: Straight-rail, ???, cushion-caroms, 54; bank-shots, 12; three-cushion shots, 14; 14-inch balk-line game, 132. In practice his runs have been much larger at some of these games, but have never been recorded by him."
 
From John A. Thatcher's book, Championship Billiards

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Published in 1898, containing 100 shots by famous players

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"An amusing incident of Mr. McCreery's billiard experience has lately been published. It happened that McCreery had engaged to play a game with Frank Maggioli (a professional whose skill is well known throughout America). McCreery had agreed to make the attempt to concede this expert professional the heavy odds of 50 points in 300. Friends of McCreery, believing him invincible in anything he undertook, had wagered heavy amounts on his ability to win. Maggioli had his run of good fortune early in the contest, and when the game stood 238 for Maggioli to 28 for McCreery, the friends of the latter left in disgust.
 
The following day McCreery was met with chaff on all sides when entering the club, and one of his friends remarked: "Why, Mac, you are good enough to win with amateurs but not with professionals." To this McCreery responded: "Well, I beat my man! What did you want me to do " whitewash him ?"

This proved to be the fact. McCreery made 272 while Maggioli was struggling to get the needed twelve points.

The remarkable skill of Mr. McCreery at the three-cushion game has given him a world-wide reputation. For many years he has been considered as the equal of any player in America, professional or amateur, at this special type of billiards, which requires the highest possible grade of technique and certainty of execution. There is hardly a professional player of prominence to-day in this country who has not at some time been forced to acknowledge defeat at Mr. Mc- Creery's hands, at this game.
 
A prominent billiard critic, in speaking of Mr. McCreery's strength as a match player, lately made the following remark: "The wonderful precision with which McCreery executes one difficult shot after another when the balls are running badly for him in critical stages of the game has often called forth my admiration. No difficulties seem to him insurmountable at times. I have often seen him execute ten or fifteen consecutive shots that demanded skill equal to that of any professional player before he succeeded in getting the balls under control for a large run. I regard this as one of the strongest factors in  McCreery's success as a match player." In closing, it may be said that Mr. McCreery is an expert in masse and draw shots; a remarkable round-the-table player; a superb technician in all the intricacies of balk-line play; and a great general when the game seems in peril."
 
"The secret of McCreery's game is going the short way, and in this regard an infallible rule applies as at all known styles of billiards. The distance traveled by the cue-ball is the sure index of billiard skill, and he who sends his ball the shorter distance is the better player. Advanced further, the same rule holds good as to the driven ball at ball to ball billiards. Schaeffer's play of squib-shots demonstrates the fact that great force renders impossible of execution such strokes, the wizard playing his ball slowly, giving the twist a chance to work, where the hard hitter has destroyed the twist on his ball after contact with the first cushion."
 
A wonderful fantasy shot by McCreery

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Also from John A. Thatcher's book

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A first baseman for the Union Club, Wayman Crow McCreery is one of the more fascinating figures in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball. Besides his musical talents, which are mentioned in the biographical sketch from Old and new St. Louis, McCreery was also a national billiards champion. Augustus Thomas, in A Print of My Remembrance, wrote that McCreery was an outstanding athlete, stating that "(few) men are so physically and intellectually equipped as he was. There was nothing that an athlete could do with his body that in a notable degree Wayman McCreery could not do. He was a boxer, wrestler, fencer, runner, and swimmer, and all-round athlete. In addition to these he was a graceful dancer."

McCreery's background is fairly typical for a member of the Union Club. He was one of several members of the club to have attended Washington University, which was co-founded by his namesake, Wayman Crow. While it's been stated that the Union Club was organized by high school students, that appears to be rather anachronistic and many of the early members of the clubs were actually students at Washington University and St. Louis University.

McCreery, like many other club members, was also related to the prominent Laclede and Chouteau family of St. Louis. He was related to the family through his marriage to Mary Louise Carr. The Union Club had numerous members who where part of the Laclede/Chouteau family as well as the Lucas family. These two families were the largest landowners in St. Louis and were also the two wealthiest families. The fact that McCreery's daughter, Marie, was named the St. Louis Veiled Prophet Queen in 1896 speaks to his family's high social standing in the city.     
 
Note : McCreery is not be mistaken with J.F.B. McCleery author of 'The McCleery Method of Billiard Playing' edited in 1890.  McCleery was a billard-room manager in San Francisco, an instructor at the Olympic club, an exhibition player and a gambler. J.F.B.'s book illustrates 400 shots in 100 engravings among which only about 10 3-cushion shots. McCleery's name figures also a few times in Modern Billiards as a player of balkline and straight rail matches.
 
When asking some clarification to Guy Huybrechts, the Belgian billiard cues and book collector, about McCleery's book he pointed out that the book of the French author Charrier 'Guide de l'Amateur du Jeu de Billard' , first publication date traced back to no later than 1837, contains 28 3-cushion shots out of 56 shots in total!  Among these 3-cushion shots some are 'cushion first' very similar to how we play them today. The billiard table used for the diagrams have 6 pockets, which was not uncommon in France in that period. You can check out the details on Guy's website:
Filip Steurs, August 9, 2015 
 
Sources :
-APA:   States, Amateur Athletic Union Of The United. (2013). pp. 35-6. Amateur Billiard Championship of America: Class Souvenir of the First Tournament Given. London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1899)
-MLA:   States, Amateur Athletic Union Of The United. Amateur Billiard Championship of America: Class Souvenir of the First Tournament Given. 1899. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. 35-6. Print.
-Jeffrey Kittel : http://thisgameofgames.blogspot.be/2008_11_01_archive.html 
-San Francisco Call 1896
-Guy Huybrechts : billiard books collector http://users.skynet.be/billard.billiards/nbook1.htm
-Bibliography of Robert Byrne's book 'Byrne's treasury of trick shots in pool and billiards'
-Modern Billiards, Brunswick Balke Collender Co. 1898
-Modern Billiards, Brunswick Balke Collender Co. 1904
-Championship Billiards. Old and New. by John A. Thatcher, 1898
-Wikipedia