By Jon Bishop
AYER — Roy Pastor, an Ayer attorney and Harvard resident, has a picture of Willie Mosconi, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest pool players of all time, hanging in his office at 44 East Main St.
But it’s not because he admires him.
“I spent $200 on that stupid wall mount to remind me that it’s the little things (like courtesy),” he said.
When Pastor was a kid, Mosconi was his hero. And, one time, he got to see him in person.
“I watched him destroy one of the top shooters,” he said. “I was thrilled.”
So thrilled, in fact, that he wanted a picture taken with him. Suffice to say, he scratched.
Mosconi would only do a picture if Pastor and his father purchased one of his books, but they didn’t have the money. So Mosconi said that he’d do the picture, but he’d refuse to look at the young Pastor.
He keeps that in mind, especially now that he’s working with kids.
But he probably didn’t see his current life as an attorney and pool instructor — he teaches anyone who walks through the door at Billiards Cafe — coming.
Pastor grew up in New York City, Queens specifically, and then went to the University of Pennsylvania for both his undergraduate work and law school. There he met his wife.
“She’s from Fitchburg,” he said, which is why he ended up moving to Massachusetts.
After graduating from law school, he worked for Janet Reno as an assistant district attorney in Florida.
“It was interesting,” he said.
His work there included time in the drug unit, where he focused on distribution cases.
He left her office and became an assistant city attorney for the City of Miami Beach from 1986 to 1987, helping to develop the city’s revitalization plan.
“It’s not the same place that it was back in the ’80s,” he said. Back then, there were a lot of slum properties, and so part of his job was to enforce zoning laws.
But now the City of Miami Beach is different. Consider the Art Deco district, he said, which is “just beautiful.”
And throughout all of that, he didn’t play any pool.
He played as a kid, of course, and then he continued in college. He was the UPenn pool champion. He played into his first year of law school.
“And then I stopped altogether,” he said. “Life got in the way.”
He didn’t start again until he moved to Massachusetts. A client heard Pastor’s name from the bartender at the Shirley Club, and he later found out that he knew the bartender from Rotary. He heard that the Shirley Club had pool tournaments and didn’t think anything of it.
One day, though, he decided to try one.
“You know what, I’m going to play in it,” he said.
So he did. And he came in second.
Pastor said that people then asked him to join leagues, and he ultimately found one in Fitchburg.
Thus his journey back into the world of pool “was kind of almost by accident.”
That was around 1999.
Calvin Moore, owner of the Billiards Cafe, opened the place in 2001, and Pastor started his youth program there not soon after.
“I really got into the teaching because of the kids,” Pastor said. “I would choose teaching and coaching over playing anytime.”
He works hard with them. He’ll teach them the physics of the game — all of it is collision physics, and so the balls separate at predicable angles — and show them the fundamentals. And he instructs them in a league format, so they get a sense of what real pool is like.
But he doesn’t look for just talent.
“I’ve never, ever turned anyone away,” he said.
“I’ve never turned kids away who didn’t have the money,” he said.
And really, it’s not just about pool. The kids who participate have made friends from all over the country and even the world. And they also look out for each other.
“I think they’re learning life lessons,” he said.
And since he’s been doing it for so long, he’ll often hear from kids who studied with him. Now, of course, they’re grown up. Some of them have turned pro, while others, like Pastor, teach pool. And other still play it as a hobby.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” Pastor said. “I’m very proud of the kids that play.”
And by the way, he kept that picture of him and Mosconi.
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