David MacNeill wrote the book on pool. Now he’s a hall-of-famer.
MacNeill, who was formerly the house professional at Livingston’s Billiards in Bradenton, was inducted into the New England Pool and Billiards Hall of Fame this month after a storied career of instruction in the sport that dates more than 60 years.
“Every time you break the balls,” MacNeill said, “there’s another puzzle to solve.”
It was this challenge that originally drew him to the sport as a 10-year-old working as a pin setter in a Connecticut bowling alley in 1955. Back then, setting up pins between frames was a manual job and MacNeill spent a lot of time at the alley. During his downtime, he played at a pool table in the facility, where one of his older co-workers first taught him about the game.
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When MacNeill turned 18, he took a job with Proctor and Gamble and began traveling the United States east of the Mississippi River for work. Wherever he stopped, he’d find a place to play pool.
Every time you break the balls there’s another puzzle to solve.
David MacNeill, retired pool coach
It led him to cross paths with professionals and players who were probably good enough to be playing professionally. It set him up to one day make a career of the game.
“Learned my craft that way,” MacNeill said, “to the point where I was able to teach other people.”
MacNeill eventually opened a pool academy, the Billiard Academy of New England, and taught the game at the University of Connecticut. When he began spending half of his year’s in Bradenton, MacNeill opened the Billiard Academy of Florida. Both schools went beyond teaching people how to play the game — he wanted to teach people how to teach the game.
Which eventually brought him to his book, “Championship Pool,” which was released in 2015 and sold well enough to merit a second edition being released in January that includes insights from players, coaches and teachers who wanted to have their voices heard in one of the most comprehensive instructional guides on the sport.
“A lot of the instructors use it as a textbook for their students,” MacNeill said.
The nomination to the hall of fame eventually came from a professional. Sal Conti, who has trained with MacNeill in the past, knew MacNeill’s skills firsthand.
MacNeill knows he’ll be due for more recognition soon. His book is making the rounds with reviews in pool magazines and places on coaches’ bookshelves.
“I never dreamed,” MacNeill said, “that he would nominate me for such an honor.”