In American billiards, Johnny Archer is a living legend.
With a multitude of accomplishments in nearly all disciplines of the game, there is very little that I can add to the story of his legend. That is the reason I accepted this assignment: not only would I have to listen to my heart, but I would also have to find a story that defines Johnny Archer, not as the Scorpion, but as the man who is making his way through this life, as we all do. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed the interview.
Johnny Archer was born to George Archer and Mary Lee Hester November 12, 1968, in Waycross, Georgia. One of five children, Johnny had two brothers and two sisters. His father was a hard- working man, an auto mechanic. He didn’t recall what his mother did for a living. Their lives changed forever, when at the age of
At 6 years old, Johnny’s mother passed away from breast cancer.
As a youth growing up in the south, there were many opportunities for Johnny to get into trouble, but Johnny had a different idea and began playing pool at 12 years old. He is grateful for his mentor Chester Flynt. Johnny told me that Chester, “kept me out of trouble, kept my nose forward.” When not playing, Johnny watched the older players, whom he idolized: Buddy Hall, Nick Varner, and Mike Sigel were mentioned.
Johnny decided to make his professional debut at the ripe age of 17 years. He would play straight pool for practice, but his true love was for rotation, especially 9 ball. To this day, he has won more titles in 9 ball than any other discipline. His performance throughout the ‘90s resulted in being named the Billiards Digest Player of the Decade.
During that period, he won two WPA World 9 Ball Championships, in 1992 and 1997, and the US Open 9 Ball Championship in 1999.
Not only did Johnny perform exceptionally well in singles, he has been a Mosconi Cup team member for a record, 16 years, since the events inception in 1994. (Earl Strickland is in second with 13 years.) Of those, the USA won the Cup in 94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 01, 03, 04, 05, 06, and 09, with Johnny being a critical part of those teams in every year that he had participated.
This last year 2012, Johnny did not lose a single match that he played, however, Team Europe edged out the win 11-9 to retain the coveted Mosconi Cup.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Johnny would have been named team MVP if the USA won. When speaking of the MVP award, Johnny spoke softly and graciously, “It would be an amazing honor, but it would mean that the USA had won, and that is what the Mosconi Cup is all about. It is the team, not the individual, that wins…”
In 2001, Johnny’s life would change forever again because of a woman, this time it was young Melanie Wynne.
Melanie was the niece of Brass Tap Billiards owner in Raleigh, North Carolina. Johnny was competing at a memorial tournament there and Melanie held him up at the door for the $10 spectator’s entry fee. Johnny told her he was one of the players competing and she let him through, but Johnny lingered longer as the attraction was immediate and all-consuming. They made arrangements for their first date, dinner at Vincents Italian Cafe and a movie. Johnny and Melanie were married in 2002 and welcomed Johnny Jr. into the world in 2004 and little miss Mary LeeAnne made the family complete a few years later. Johnny, Melanie, and the kids make their home in Acworth, GA.
In Johnny’s words:
“Melanie and the kids completed my life. I used to always be out on my own, no one to be accountable to or for. If I wanted to get up and play golf or eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger, that is what I would do. I was like a dog chasing his tail, same thing different day. Now, everything matters. When I do make a serious decision, I choose what is best for all of us.”
Johnny’s family and faith are what keep him strong and motivated to do well in all his endeavors. Real life stresses about finances and health care, loss of loved ones, and raising a family the best way that he can are all in the front of his mind at the end of the day.
Away from family and competition, Johnny is a co-owner of the Marrieta Billiards Club with life- long friend Kim Davenport. I have never been to the room, but from what I hear it is spectacular: onsite cue repair, forty 9 foot Brunswick, Olhausen, Diamond Pro, and Triple Shimmed Brunswicks, weekly pool and poker tournaments, APA, BCA, and Tap Leagues, the Scorpion Room is available for private parties, and Golden Tee, plus many more video games available. Top it off with a fantastic menu of down home grub and you really have no need to go anywhere else. It is on the top of my pool room bucket lists, for sure!
In closing, I asked Johnny if there were any sponsors he would like to thank for their support. He wanted to thank: Scorpion Cues (20+ year sponsor, designed a line in Johnny’s name) Triangle Tips Cuestix International Championship Billiard Fabric
My thanks to Sneaky Pete Mafia; the forum provided me the opportunity to conduct a complete and personal interview with one of the most iconic pool players in American history.
I will be conducting more interviews with the magazine in the future, so please email me any questions or recommendations for future interviews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: WPBA San Diego Classic 2009, by Anne Craig
Suzanne Smith is involved in pool on many levels and as well as being a champion pool player, she just really loves the game! She was recently nominated to the board of the Northwest Women’s Pool Association which is the only women’s WPBA sanctioned regional tour in the North Western US. Suzanne is the Editor/Creative Director for Sneaky Pete Mafia Magazine which is a brand new publication in the billiards community (see link above)Over the last year, Suzanne began to organize a series of breast cancer tournaments where they donate pink fees from each entry and a fund generated through raffle to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation. As you can imagine, all of this keeps Suzanne very busy and while she also works part time as an Aquatic Scientist and is a Mom to two kids she somehow still manages to find time to practice and compete at a very high level!