Everyone who came to Lansing through Velvet Rail Billiards knew Joe Farhat.
He was the man with a big smile on his face or a big cigar in his mouth in the billiard room he opened in 1964.
And his quest to bring pocket billiards back to the Lansing area, including his instrumental efforts to allow minors into the pool halls and arouse women’s interest, has earned him a place in the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame. .
“He meant so much to the community and was the biggest promoter and supporter of pool, especially among the women,” said JeaneAnn Cardwell, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003 for pocket billiards. “I started playing there when I was about 18 and he took me under his wing and started sponsoring me and tournaments that I entered.
“I’ve never seen him pick up a pool cue in my life. He just wanted to bring people together to play who knew how to play pool and it benefited everyone.”
Farha pushed for a bill to go to the state legislature that would allow minors access to pool halls and billiard rooms, giving more young people access to the sport. Farha was president of the Billiard Room Proprietor’s Association of America for several years and hosted the Billiard Congress of America US Open in 1968.
“He loved people and really loved kids and helping everyone around,” Cardwell said. “He was always there – if you had no money, he would give you a job in the billiard room so you could play. He became family to all of us, so much so that I named a son after him.”
In 1986, Farhat was inducted into the Women’s Professional Billiard Association and in 1988 he was inducted into the Michigan Pocket Billiards Hall of Fame. He also received an award from the Billiard Congress of America for his part in promoting and developing the women’s pool.
Farhat sponsored hundreds of Billiard Congress of America women’s and men’s tournaments, in addition to many pool competitions, including Oldsmobile and Boys Club.
“He was always about the other person,” Cardwell said. “He never did this for himself, and he was just the kind of person who loved seeing other people succeed. I think it’s way too late because he really deserves it, probably sooner than me, because without him I think not that I would be in the Hall of Fame.”
Farhat died in August 1990, and his cousin, Jim, will receive his dedications in his honor Thursday at the Lansing Center.
Contact Nathaniel Bott at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Nathaniel_Bott
LARGER LANSING SPORT HALL OF FAME
When: July 29 – 4-9 pm
True: Lansing Center
Tickets: $35 per person and can be purchased at lansingsportshalloffame.org
Hall of Fame class 2021: Perry Costello (Lansing Catholic, umpire), Dave DeMarco (Lansing Catholic, sports channel), Joseph F. Farhat (billiards), Denny Hill (Eastern, MSU swimming), Gina Mazzolini (St. Johns basketball/volleyball), Pete Schmidt (Okemos soccer), Paul Stein (oriental soccer, basketball, baseball), Wayne Terwilliger (Charlotte baseball, basketball, soccer), Hub Waite (Lansing Catholic softball), 1977 DeWitt girls basketball 1975 Lakewood boys basketball.
Sponsors: Magic Johnson Enterprises, Dean Transportation, Applegate Home Comfort, Shaheen Chevrolet/Cadillac, car owners, Two Men And A Truck, AF Group, Edward Jones Investments, Gregory Eaton Associates, Dan Henry Distributing, ASA Printing