Grady “The Professor” Mathews Passes

Grady and Randi Mathews



On the 18th of April 2012, Grady Mathews lost his uphill struggle against cancer. His loss will be felt throughout the pool industry, but most severely hit will be the fans of One-Pocket, a discipline that Grady devoted so much time to throughout his career. Mathews is almost single handedly responsible for putting the game of One-Pocket on the map.

Grady first started playing pool in the late fifties as a fourteen year old living in in San Mateo, CA, where he played in a local bowling alley. In the sixties his game had progressed to the point where he took his game on the road playing Straight Pool, 9 Ball, One-Pocket and Banks. Over the next 35 years he picked up Major Titles in all four disciplines. However, Grady will always be remembered for his knowledge in the One-Pocket arena. 

Grady was tireless in promoting and producing numerous events throughout his career, the most significant being the Legends of One-Pocket for which he will always be remembered. He also added the title of actor to his resume in 1986, when he picked up the part of “Dud” in the movie “The Color of Money” starring Tom Cruise.

He was inducted into the “One-Pocket hall of Fame” in 2004. In addition to his many successes at the table, Grady was technical adviser to movie producers, as well as being a regular commentator on pool matches, a producer of instructional tapes, and as an author. He wrote monthly articles for several pool magazines throughout his career - “Inside Pool Magazine” being his last consignment. His One-Pocket instructional diagrams will be missed by all of his readers.

Grady was born on January 3rd 1943 in San Antonio, Texas. He is preceded in death by his wife, Randi, who passed on August 9th 2009. He is survived by his two children Marie and Grady IV.


“One day back around 1998 Grady appeared at Mother's Billiard Parlor in Charlotte and approached me about doing a tour East of the Mississippi. It was a battle of the sexes. He agreed to arrange everything and I showed up. We played 21 nights and it was fantastic. I loved our trip because he was honorable, articulate and very professional. He taught me a lot during the times in between traveling and playing. I have always respected Grady so much and he has contributed a lot for many players all over the World. We had a lot of fun and I enjoyed talking with him and listening to his stories. I will really miss him and his laugh especially.”

“It is my opinion that Grady Mathews is solely responsible for the popularity of One-Pocket as we know it today. Without his involvement there would not be the big One-Pocket tournaments that we see today. He will be deeply missed”

“Grady was really a great all round player at all of the disciplines and worked so hard for all of his career to promote the game. I remember beating him at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in the final of the Brunswick World 9 Ball Tournament back in 1989. Can you believe it that the first prize was $15,000 all that long ago! I also remember doing commentary with him back in the day, and it was always so enjoyable.

I also did an exhibition tour with him in 1995, and the thing I remember from that two weeks was that he was real fun to be around. Johnny and I who are touring right now giving exhibitions, made a point of phoning him a couple of weeks before he passed. He will be sorely missed I can tell you!” 

“I've been friends with Grady for over 40 years, and I can say is that in his prime he was great in all of the disciplines. His best game I would say was One-Pocket, and he picked up the name Professor when well into his career. He definitely did a lot for pool and will always be remembered to me as the PROFESSOR!

I remember being in Detroit with Grady at the Rack & Cue back in 1985, and he played Buggs Rucker in a set of One Pocket. Well, he lost a chunk on the first set, but insisted in carrying on set after set, until he had lost six straight sets. As his friend at this point, I suggested that maybe now would be a good time to ask for a spot. But, being the proud man he was, he said that if I can't play him even then I won't play him at all. So I said do you mind if I ask him for a spot. No he said. Well the outcome was that he gave me a spot and I took $10,000 from Buggs! It was my 50th birthday and one I will always remember! I have a lot of fond memories of our times together over the years. I will miss him”

“I certainly remember playing Grady many times throughout my career, and remember him mainly as an action player!!! He loved his action!

“Believe it or not I first met Grady when I was eleven years old in Binghamton, NY in 1983. I was there with another young player (Michael Newport) to give an exhibition at the BC open. I was very lucky to get the opportunity of practicing with Mr. Mathews. (As a kid I am sure I did not address him as Grady.) Moving forward twelve years to 1991, I was lucky enough to win my first (of three) Legends of One-Pocket, in Columbia, SC, beating Steve Mizerak in the final.

I also have played in every ring game at the Derby City Classic since they started. Grady was a very bright guy and I have witnessed him doing the Times crossword in just a few minutes! He also loved to gamble, and I remember one bizarre bet vividly. I was at the hot dog counter In Ms. Cue in Morristown, TN, where Grady bet a guy that he could eat 6 hot dogs before he ate his two for a $1,000. Grady must have been mighty hungry that day, because he downed all six before the guy was halfway through his second. I soon became his friend and cannot believe that I have known him for thirty years! He certainly contributed a lot to pool, and will be remembered for all the hard work that he did for all of the games of pool, especially One-Pocket. It is going to seem very strange not seeing him around at the Derby City next year. I know that I will really miss him!

“Grady has been a big asset to the game, and has always been very passionate about the game, and a very accomplished player. He excelled at One-Pocket. I would advise any young player that wants to learn about One-Pocket, to get hold of any DVD's by Grady. He knew the game inside and out. He was also very knowledgeable about all of the disciplines of pool and was an accomplished and entertaining commentator. We have certainly lost a legend with his passing. He will be sorely missed.” 

"Although most recognized for elevating the game of One-Pocket Grady's legacy lies in the hearts and souls of those who he touched. His contributions as a promoter, player, author, commentator and overall ambassador of our sport will have a permanent place in pocket billiard history. Thank you Grady for making such a memorable impact on our lives.”

"I played enough against Grady in both tournaments and money matches to learn that he just loved to play pool, he would eat and sleep pool! Regarding his One-Pocket game he was very flashy and at the same time very inventive. He also was a great promoter of a variety of events. He always came up with the cash at the end of the event, and was an all round likable guy. I understand that years ago he asked Danny DiLiberto to give him some boxing lessons. (For those of you that might not know, Danny was a professional boxer when he was younger) Danny said why the heck do you need boxing lessons, your an old man! Grady said I want to fight Allen Hopkins cause I don't like him! When I heard the story I laughed and could only think that it maybe stemmed from an incident at the US Open years ago. In this particular game the cue ball was frozen to the 2 ball. As the rule allows I hit through the ball and ended up leaving the 2 ball sitting right in front of the side pocket. Well it was such an easy shot for Grady that he missed it! Well three games later with the score at 9-3 to me, he suddenly jumped out of his chair and shouted - "you cheated, you cheated!" I surprisingly said "I cheated at what?". "You fouled on the 2 ball three games ago", he said. I explained that the ball was frozen and beat him 11-3. I guess it took him three games to get over missing that easy shot! That's pool! Luckily I never saw Grady wearing any boxing gloves, but I was always on the look out! He will definitely be remembered as one of pools characters and for his contribution to the game in general, but more importantly he will always be remembered for making One-Pocket as recognized as it is today. I always liked him and he will be missed.”

"Grady Mathews devoted his life to playing and promoting pool – and he did it honorably. For years, he has been the primary force in keeping one pocket alive. Although primarily known as a One Pocket player, Grady excelled in 9-Ball, was a published author, and created some of the best instructional tapes available. He was also known as an excellent commentator with an opinion and a sharp wit. The pool players have lost a true friend.

"Grady was one of the first and original pro players I got to know as a young boy. I remember watching ESPN when I was 12 years old, when Grady played Davenport. I remember my childhood friend and I made a bet on who was who and I picked Grady as the name for Kim Davenport - I said to my friend well he looks like a Grady. Lol. I was a little off the mark, but I was new in pool and was just a kid. A few years later I was riding with Old Man Sam driving to Philadelphia for the Legends of One Pocket. Grady was always so nice to me when I was a kid and also as a young pro. I'm sure he touched a lot of other players lives as well. I just want to say, along with many others, I will never forget you Grady"

"Grady was our very first inductee into the One Pocket Hall of Fame in 2004. He was a natural for the top spot on that first Hall of Fame ballot because of all that he had done as a One Pocket player, tournament promoter and an educator of the game that he loved. After I presented his HOF plaque at his own Gulf Coast Classic tournament in November 2004 (featuring One Pocket, of course), he turned around and volunteered to MC our first One Pocket Hall of Fame dinner, held at Greg Sullivan's Derby City Classic in January 2005. That's the kind of unselfish and enthusiastic supporter of the game that Grady was.

He continued to serve as one of our MC's until this year, when his health just did not permit it. Grady did make his last Hall of Fame dinner appearance this year even though he was seriously weakened by his battle with cancer, but this time we honored him in an 11th hour tribute instead of appearing in his usual role. It seemed to energize him to be surrounded by his peers and celebrating the game he loved, and I will always remember him that way."