Balabushka Cues

Written by Tadashi Moody
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The game of pool enjoyed a resurgence in the popular culture of the United States in the late 1980s, due in part to the release and popularity of the film "The Color of Money." Directed by one of Americas foremost cinematic minds, Martin Scorcese, and featuring mega-stars Tom Cruise and Paul Newman, this film drew the attention of the general public to a game that already had a vibrant community of recreational, amateur and professional players.

In the film, Paul Newman's character "Fast Eddie" bequeaths upon his pool playing protege Vincent his prize possession--a Balabushka cue. The cue is portrayed as a masterpiece of craftsmanship, or as described by one extra in the film, as "something John Wayne would carry" if he played pool. The cue becomes a symbol in the film for all the flash, pizzazz, and cockiness of which Vincent has too much, and which Fast Eddie has lost.

With the films notoriety (Paul Newman won an Oscar for Best Actor) came instant fame for Balabushka Cues--but only amongst the general public. Serious pool players had long known the name George Balabushka. A woodworker by trade and a straight pool player, Balabushka began making custom cues in the 1950s. His innovation, design, and craftsmanship quickly earned him a reputation as the greatest cue maker of his time. Balabushka died in 1975. Original Balabushka cues, and even replicas, can fetch high prices on today's market.

Balabushka Cues Today

Today the Balabushka name lives on in the cue manufacturing community. After his death, another well-known cue manufacturer was granted the right to manufacture cues under the Balabushka name. Later the company was acquired by a Japanese conglomerate. But very few changes have been made to the original designs of Mr. Balabushka himself, and so today's Balabushka cues maintain much of the same high quality and game play characteristics as the originals.


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