Jeff sparks

Verified Member
Apr 2, 2015
Houston, Texas
James Christopher (AKA "Sniper" ) was a chubby kid from San Antone when he was young...
I was skinny & tall, better looking, and played better 9 ball than James...:)
We were bitter rivals when we were young, I couldn't stand losing to him, and the feeling was mutual I'm sure...

We played quite often before either of us could really play... By that I mean, we were shortstops, neither of us could beat a real player...

One day we locked horns at TJ Parker's... James was always short on cash, I don't say that to be mean, it was just a fact with James, he had obligations and responsibilities even at a young age, and it caused him to be super careful with what little money he had... That was also one of the reasons why he got out of the gate so well, he had to win that first game, or it was over... You see James earned his nickname... He fired one shell, and if he missed, and you won that first game, he'd quit...Ergo "SNIPER"...

Well on this particular day, James got out of the gate really well, beating me 7 games in a row... I'm stuck $70.00 and my ego is severely bruised... I ask him to raise the bet, and he says NO, you gotta win it back like I won it from you!

This pisses me off even more and I get on my soapbox and tell James and all within earshot, "If you bust me today, I'll quit playing pool forever and get a job!!!"

As I recall, he did just that, he beat me and beat me, until I was busted...

Partially true to my word, I hitched a ride out of Texas the next day... I ended up in Athens, Ohio where a company was laying a big natural gas underground pipeline... I went to the foreman and asked him for a job... He said what can you do? I said anything you want, I'm young and strong and will work my ass off for you... He hired me on the spot.. My job was what they called a "Swamper". All I did was place skids in the ditches ahead of the pipe they were laying.. The skids were actually railroad tyes... Each 9' long and each one weighed about 80 lbs..

Athens was hilly, not mountainous, but lots of varied elevations, so the skids was seldom carried on flat ground, it was either uphill or downhill most of the time... Carl was the other Swamper... He was a black man, about 10 years older than me and built like a slender Arnold Swartznegger when he won the Mr. Universe contest...I wasn't unfit mind you, in fact, I could go all day long hauling 1 skid at a time... Carl could put one on each shoulder and trot up the hills.. Nice guy Carl... Glad he liked me...:)

I stayed steady for three months, working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day...The pipeline had moved to the foothills just outside of Chillicothe, Ohio when my back locked up... They carried me to a chiropractor and he put me on a rack that stretched my back out in a slow rhythmic motion... I went in everyday for 5 days and the knot finally turned loose and I could walk in an upright position again...

I had saved up several hundred over the 3 months and was afraid to go back at the skids, so I went to the foreman and thanked him for the job and told him I had to quit..

I went to a used car lot and bought an old 55 Ford Crown Vic that had rusted out quarter panels, but a good solid motor... I remember I paid $200.00 for it...
I drove it straight back to Texas, looking for James Christopher...:)

I never worked again until my wife gave birth to our first son... We named him James J. Sparks.

James Christopher and I are good friends today... We get along really great, sometimes we play... and guess what... The fire still burns in us, we fight as hard as ever to win...:)