Kim Davenport remembers his talents as a billiard player first surfacing after picking up a pool cue for the first time at age 10 on Fourth Street in Ceres. In three months he was dropping jaws when he started beating the seasoned adult players.
“It was just like the cue was meant for me, just meant to be in my hands,” said Davenport, now 62, who last October was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo. “I had all the old men scratching their heads.”
At the induction ceremony in Norfolk, Va., his name was added along with that of female player Gerda Hofstatter.
Davenport lived in the Ceres-Modesto area for 52 years until he moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area 11 years ago to open up a billiard club. It closed about seven years ago.
Born in Oklahoma, Davenport grew up in Ceres and lived on Ninth Street in Ceres. He graduated from Ceres High School in 1974. He remembers the old Ceres billiard room had a bowling game that offered a prize of an hour of billiard playing if a score of 250 or better was achieved.
“I was pretty good at that bowling thing so I’d put my dime in there and win a couple of hours of free pool a day. Maybe I’m lucky that I found that skill that I had at such a young age.”
When he was 20 he had to spread his wings and leave Ceres to pursue a career as a professional billiards player.
“You have to leave to get better because I was beating everybody in basically all of Northern California. I went to LA and then went to Michigan, you know went on the road and played other players – and got beat plenty of time. But I figured out in ’85, I said, well if I don’t play in these tournaments and beat everybody in the world nobody’s gonna know so that’s when I started playing in tournaments.”
From there he said his skills advanced. He also reopened the old Ferroni’s Family Billiards on McHenry Avenue in Modesto as Championship Billiards and operated it for 17 years.
By the mid-1980s, Davenport was making a name for himself on the pro tour, winning events like the Bowling Green Open and Tar Heel Classic. He broke through in 1988, winning the highly regarded Japan Cup and Eastern States 9-Ball Championship. After adding three more titles in 1989, Davenport put in a “Player of the Year” performance in 1990, winning the Brunswick Challenge Cup in Sweden, the Sands Regency Open and the B.C. Open – all major tour titles.
Kim’s career included a world championship, a master’s and 20 tour event titles. He played in over 63 tournaments wor
“I played all over the world for 23 years; won tournaments in Japan, Asia and Europe.”Kim Davenport
“I played all over the world for 23 years; won tournaments in Japan, Asia and Europe.”
He was good enough to make a living at billiards and remembers his highest prize was $20,000.
“We had a lot of tournaments, at least two a month for 10, 12 years and you can do exhibitions on the side because you’ve got a name and you’re a great player, people call you in and they pay you to do an exhibition in their billiard club or wherever. And I had several sponsors through my career.”
He also developed a popular learning game called Target Pool.
Davenport added eight more pro tour titles, before a 2002 injury to his left – a golf ball hit him in the eye resulting in three surgeries – ended his pool-playing career. He also noted age took its toll.
“It’s hard to compete with somebody who’s 21 and has great vision,” said Davenport by phone on Friday. “My vision got back. I think my vision is now 20-180, which isn’t very good.”
Now retired and playing golf daily, the Acworth, Georgia resident had been recommended for consideration by the Hall of Fame Veteran Players Committee after failing to garner enough votes for election on the general ballot prior to turning 60.
“To be honest, I thought my record was good enough to get in before now, but better late than never. In the end, this is what 40 years of playing pool comes down to. And 100 years from now, people will see my name next to Mosconi’s, which is not a bad thing.”
Founded in 2007, the United States Billiard Media Association (USBMA) is a non-profit association dedicated to elevating the visibility and status of billiards in the media at large. One of the association’s main functions is electing of billiard media members to the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame Board for the purpose of nominating and electing players and notable figures to the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.