Willie Hoppe Pool Cues: An Elegant Tribute to an American Legend
In a world full of amazing pool cue creators and designers, there’s plenty of options for pool cue lovers everywhere. The great thing about a custom cue is that it often has a story behind it. It could be a story about the cue maker, such as the man behind the famous handcrafted Balabushka cues, or it could be a story about arguably the greatest billiards player of all time, (spoiler alert)… Willie Hoppe.
In this article, we’ll share some interesting facts about the great Willie Hoppe and help you understand more about the design of Hoppe-inspired tribute pool cues and why they’re so popular.
Who Was Willie Hoppe?
Willie Hoppe was born in October 1887 in Cornwall on Hudson, New York, and took up billiards around the age of 5. Hoppe’s father taught him the sport in the hotel he ran and learned Willie was very gifted. Over the years, Willie won a whole lot of money off traveling salesmen, and became a master of billiards while doing it.
Willie Hoppe became known for his very unorthodox stroke. This developed after years of having to either climb on the table or standing on a box to play, because he was so young. Still, he was dominating other players 3 times his age or more.
The Boy Wonder
It is said that Willie gained the nickname “The Boy Wonder” very early on. One story goes that at the age of 12, Willie was playfully challenged by a very skilled 30 year old man named Al Taylor at a game of Balkline (played with two cue balls and a red object ball on a pocketless 5 foot x 10 foot table). At the time, Hoppe was so small he had to climb on top of the table to play.
Taylor offered the young Willie Hoppe ice cream if he beat him, and it didn’t take very long at all for Taylor to lose his fun-loving, laid back personality around the kid. Hoppe dominated Taylor with a finishing score of 300 to 207. Taylor proceeded to snap his cue stick, and ultimately ended up taking Hoppe out for ice cream, as he promised.
A new child prodigy, this was the very beginning of Willie Hoppe’s dominance.
Willie Hoppe has done things in billiards that will never be matched. He won his first Balkline world title before reaching 20 years old, his first of a whopping 51 world titles spanning from 1906 to 1952. This included 11 3-cushion World Championships between 1936 and 1952.
Willie Hoppe also made a habit of setting records for runs and score, including scoring 2,000 consecutive points in straight rail, 622 points in 18.2 balkline, and a run of 25 points in 3-cushion billiards.
Billiards at the White House
In 2011, at the age of 22, Hoppe showcased his skill in front of President William Howard Taft. To this day, he’s still known as the only billiards player to ever perform an exhibition at the White House.
What is a Hoppe Cue?
Starting in 1941 and continuing through the 70s, Brunswick sold a signature line of pool cues that was named after Willie Hoppe. Hoppe cues were characterized by the iconic ivory ring above the butt plate of the cue, since that was one of the characteristics of Hoppe’s Titlist playing cue. Sometimes, the cues were also made bumperless and had an exposed bolt-weight.
Most of the time, the cue features a 4-point aesthetic (as seen below) and various inlay variations and color schemes, so you can tailor your Hoppe cue however you want with a trusted custom pool cue maker.
Nowadays, there are all kinds of production and custom cues in circulation that feature the Hoppe design, which tells you just how influential Willie has been in the world of billiards. This design creates such a simple, yet elegant cue that is sure to catch some eyes, and hopefully make a lot of balls!
Where to Find Hoppe Pool Cues
Most of what you will find for sale are the classic Brunswick Hoppe cues from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the Schon Hoppe tribute cues. Schon is a custom pool cue outfit based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
How Much Does a Willie Hoppe Cue Cost?
Currently, the vintage Brunswick Hoppe cues are selling on eBay for $200 to $700 depending on condition. Of course, they can be worth much more if they’re in near mint or mint condition, but this is extremely rare and the cost will reflect that. That would be a perfect opportunity for a hardcore pool cue collector.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the fascinating Willie Hoppe and are able to use this information to possibly acquire a stylish Hoppe style cue. Pool cues are works of art and Hoppe cues are no exception. What’s more is that there’s a fascinating story behind this style of cue.