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Looking for Any Info About Jimmy Matz

Looking for Any Info About Jimmy Matz

It is going on 15 years since the Billiard Community lost Jimmy Matz. I am trying to accumulate any data inregards to his life story. Pictures, newspaper articles, school yearbook, tournament results or maybe just a personal story of an experience you had with Jimmy. Anything and everything would be helpful. We all know Jimmy was not a Saint, for which, none of us are. But, what a talent on the pool table! Before the memories and the facts become forgotten, help me to document them, so they can be shared with all who were interested in this character.

The first time I so called, met Jimmy, was at Heister's. I had just finished shootin' with Tony and the results were not favorable for me. But, I was standing outside the partition to the poolroom talkin' with Schneider. Looking down the runway between the bowling alleys and the poolroom was this guy walking towards me, with two gorgeous girls, each hanging on one of his arms. As he approached, he stopped and said to me, "Hey, that's a Fellini Case! You must be really good. We'll have to play sometime." With that he stolled down the the runway and out the door with his two friends. Not knowing what had just happened, I must have looked a bit perplexed 'cause Schneider said to me, "I'm gonna save you some money. That was Jimmy Matz!"

Looking for Any Info About Jimmy Matz

Replies & Comments

  1. topcat1953billiardsforum on 2/7/2009 9:04:42 PM

    Cool, welcome to the billiard forums. I think I may have helped you get registered earlier today. Glad to see you got it all straightened out.

    Your post just made the decision for me of who will be the next player to make it into our pool player's profile section. I don't have any yearbook pictures, but check back tomorrow and you'll see our collection of Matz facts and profile info.

    Just out of curiosity, what is your interest in Jimmy? Are you putting something together?

    You can also contact AZ Billiards forum member "Wedge" - he has some old vhs of Matz and he's willing to make copies for 5-10 bucks.

  2. topcat1953topcat1953 on 2/8/2009 8:47:15 AM

    "Wedge"? That is a name from the past. I wasn't aware he still played or was even involved with the sport anymore.

    Yes, I am trying to put a story together in regards to Jimmy. I have been in contact with a few of the old cohorts and doing my best toround up some info. Maybe there is not enough available, but we'll see.

    Jimmy was a real piece of work. Very slick. A tremendous talent on the pool table. The way he broke the rack for 9-ball and park the cue ball dead consistently was something to see. While shooting Straight pool, he could actually tell you "I'm going to run 45 and then let the other guy shoot." And he would do it. There were 12 tables at Heisters Lanes, in Reading, and he ran 100 on every one of them.

    In Wrightsville, PA, there was a little lunchonette known as Straps. In the backroom there were two 9 footers. For a very small town, Wrightsville had some real strong shooters. One of those was Duke Bayman. Straight Pool was the game of choice then and Duke had the talent to pack a 60 to 100 ball run on at any time. Jimmy and Schneider went to Straps one afternoon for some action. I am fairly certain the match was a lengthy 125 or 150 pointer for the cash. Of course, the boys in Wrightsville didn't know who Jimmy was. Duke relayed to me afterward about this guy he played. He told me that if he ran 25 balls, the other guy would run 30. If he ran 30 balls, the other guy would run 35. He said he felt like he was being toyed with. At Straps, they called him the Apache Kid because of the way he came in and scalped everyone. When Duke described Jimmy and Schneider and the inscribed "Red Devil" on his custom Meucci, I told him, "That was Jimmy Matz!"

    I can play very well at times and I played 9-ball with Jimmy for probably a couple hundred hours, but I never could get ahead of him.

    He did spend alot of time on the road. I believe he had a route through Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, parts of Mississippi and Florida.

    I am looking for those missing links. And knowing Jimmy, there was certainly a good little story behind them.

    I believe it was the Fall of 1979, when he wrecked his black Corvette, in Florida, and sustained a head injury. Unfortunately, after that he was never quite the same. Still a monster on the pool table, but that injury must have conjured up demons that drove him to behave strangely at times and eventually led to an early demise.

    Jimmy is basically now a legend (especially here in Central PA) of which maybe we can bring back to life.

    Any info is valuable and greatly appreciated.

  3. topcat1953billiardsforum on 2/8/2009 8:58:24 AM

    Yeah I realized the AZB post I was looking at was old. Sorry about that. I also searched my usual places for some video clips and footage of Matz but nothing came up. Nobody has digitized any of that old VHS footy. If someone can send me a tape, I'm happy to digitize it free of charge.

    Good luck in your hunt, and if you find anything cool, please let us know!

  4. topcat1953mattiefingaz on 6/17/2009 10:45:38 PM

    This post came just on time for me...allow me a bit of background...

    My formative years were spent in Palmerton, PA ...about 40 minutes outside of Reading where Jimmy was from. I'm 38 and in my early teens I got into some trouble and my uncle helped out his single mother sister to teach his nephew a "hobby" to keep him off the streets....he taught me the fine art of pocket billiards. :)

    My uncle Rob ran with Jimmy for a year or so, amongst others...there was also "Shadow" as I've learned was Mike who continues to be a part of the Atlantic City scene, reffing and playing. Rob got some lessons and spent some time with Ray Martin getting lessons and learning some road game tactics...Shadow ran with Allen Hopkins at the time and I got to hear a bunch of their road stories..and as a young adult in eastern PA, Jimmy Matz and Jim Rempe were my heroes (outside of my Uncle Rob). Hind sight being 20/20...how lucky could I have been. This was when Loree Jon was an Oganowski and not a Jones(forgive my spelling if it's wrong)...

    Getting back to Mr. Matz, (and for those that knew him he'd be pissed that I referred to him as that)...I think that the best story I can remember being told was when he walked into Jordan Lanes in Allentown, PA...tossed all 15 balls on the table from the rack and proceeded to bank EVERY ball in without missing.

    I've heard a lot of those "non saint" stories about Jimmy too...been hearing them since I was a teenager...but does that matter now? NOPE...he was a surgeon. He created the "fast and loose" style of play. Made it look effortless. Stu Ungar has a movie about his life...I think Jimmy deserves one too...

    TopCat I know that this doesn't fit in with exactly what you were asking for...but...I grew up hearing his name in the present...I had to kick in what I had...


    I'm living in Wichita KS right now and I got off the phone with Jack Shurtz about 3 hours ago and he's going to personally re-cover my new table with his wife the second week of July...to hell with hind sight...I'm still getting lucky...

    Thanks for the time you took to read this....I hope I can contribute more as time goes on..


  5. topcat1953guest on 4/15/2010 8:59:12 AM

    I was with Jimmy from the very beginning! Before Heisters Lanes was the AVRCC in Pennside, PA, a small community South of Reading. Bowl-O Rama was another place we used to go.

    The first time we went on the road it was Jimmy, myself and another friend. We hitch hiked to Florida. No money and Jimmy with his cue (I might add that I just learned who has Jimmy's first cue, the Balabushka). What a trip that was! We stayed for a month and came home with a tan!

    I could write a book about all the road trips! A movie could be done about our last road trip. I have some amazing memories!

  6. topcat1953topcat1953 on 4/15/2010 12:47:26 PM

    @guest - You and I have to talk. Send me an email at cobra01@comcast.net please.

  7. topcat1953Buzzy Labriola on 4/8/2011 11:27:29 PM

    I have some info regarding Jimmy Matz.

    I played Jimmy, backed Jimmy, and conversed with Jimmy throughout his life. I believe he was the greatest pool player that ever played the game.

    I have a video of a match between Jimmy Matz and Jimmy Fusco in Reading, PA from the 1980s. They played two sets of nine ball for a thousand each.

    Sorry I can not tell ya the outcome, you'll just have to purchase the DVD. I am in the process of mass producing these copies to hopefully sell to the public.

    Anyone with any interest to either purchase them or just to help me circulate them it would be deeply appreciated.

  8. topcat1953jimmy on 10/16/2013 11:12:18 AM

    Hi, I'm a writer. I'm working on my second novel now, with my first one scheduled for publication this spring. And I find myself motivated to write a story about Jimmy Matz. In fact, I've started it and so far its going very well.

    Briefly, I'm from Jimmy's home town. I won't say that I knew him but I knew of him and I knew some people he used to hang with. Given his talent and his tragic ending, and given that I actually laid eyes on the guy and watched him back at the REC center in Mount Penn, I find myself motivated to derive a fictitious story from the life of Jimmy Matz.

    But I've discovered that the best fiction is that informed by reality, so I would love it if I could have some communication with those of you who have more information about Matz, whether it be of his formative childhood years or of his life on the road, before things unraveled.

    Anyone interested in sharing or in some sort of creative collaboration, please write to me at: jim@integralinput.com.

    Thanks, Jim

  9. topcat1953user1497242824 on 6/12/2017 12:47:07 AM

    I watched Jimmy Matz play a lot at Hiesters back in the early 1970s and before that at Joe's pool hall at corner of Oleg and Schulkyl Ave. I played him once at 3rd and Spruce before it was a yuppie bar. And this is no BS, I beat him 2 out of 3 in 8 ball. He tried to get me to play for money but I said I know who you are and you are so out of my league. I was good but not even close to his talent.

    Hey Buzzy, I would love to purchase on of those tapes if your still selling?

  10. topcat1953user1572334393 on 10/29/2019 12:33:14 AM

    @Buzzy Labriola,

    I'm John Benton, and I live in California.

    We used to shoot pool up from Jordan Lanes to the Philly pool rooms playing Jimmy, Pete, and Mike.

    The story I always heard about Jimmy Matz was that he never played in the big tournaments but after they were over, regardless of who won them, he would give them the 8 and bust them for the winnings.

    Do you still have your room in Allentown, PA?

    Jimmy Matz was a great legend that people didn't know worldwide because he never entered the tournaments, but all the jammed up players knew him.


    (714) 471-9010

  11. topcat1953user1591652814 on 6/8/2020 9:46:55 PM


    Pocket Billiards

    Jim Matz of Pennside is the New York Nine-Ball Classic winner.

    He won by beating Steve Miserak (sp), a four-time world champion 11-10, Sunday at Newburgh, N.Y.

  12. topcat1953hawaiial on 6/9/2020 2:17:42 AM

    I grew up with Jimmy Matz in Reading, Pennsylvania. I lived in Temple and he lived in Mount Penn. I first met him at Heister’s Lanes when I was about 14 or 15. He would come in with his friend Jerry whom he 1st went on the road with. Whenever he played he would play on Table #1 and I am not kidding when I say that the whole building would gather round to watch him play. Even the bowlers would stop to witness his greatness on the pool table.

    We shared our love of Corvettes and even dated some of the same girls over the years. In my opinion he was the greatest pool hustler who ever lived. In his early years playing pool he purposely didn’t play in tournaments because he didn’t want anyone to know who he was. He would dress up as a painter down south so he could get into ring games and go unnoticed. He was the definition of a pool hustler and I wish somebody would make a movie about his life.

    He could run 200 to 300 balls without even trying. I would play with him for hours on end and he never missed a ball. He could break better then anyone that I have ever seen. He would play you in straight pool and tell you what the final score would be. He was truly Amazing.

    I have watched a ton of pool tournaments in person and on websites like YouTube, and nobody could match up with him when he was at his peak. He could cut balls on the rail backwards and I’ve seen him do it more then once. He could masse better then anyone in the world. He could bank balls like nobody I ever seen.

    He had eyes that moved like an iguana and he had an aura about him. He was like a celebrity and everyone wanted to hang around him.

    We all hung out at Heister’s Lanes and they were some of the best years of my life growing up. He would match up with local guys, Tony, Ace, Brian just to name a few. He would absorb knowledge from the old guys like the Pope who taught all of us how to shoot with one hand using your pool cue like a spear. We hung out when he came back from Florida after he spun out his new Corvette and received a deep laceration on his head and he seemed like the old Jimmy. However, he was on some strong medication for the pain and he gradually got worse and worse until he couldn’t take it anymore and ended his life by suicide at his parents home.

    All of us that knew Jimmy were very saddened by his death. I will never forget all of the fun we had. He was truly a rock star! Rest In Peace Buddy!

    Please call me at (808) 349-1663 if you want to hear more stories about his life.

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Looking for Any Info About Jimmy Matz

  • Title: Looking for Any Info About Jimmy Matz
  • Author: (Coby Atkins)
  • Published: 2/7/2009 8:49:20 PM