The Ewing Pool Sharks of the Central Jersey Senior Billiard League suffered their first major loss last month. Unfortunately, that loss was something much more than just a pool match to a rival team. The Sharks lost their co-captain Mike Payne, affectionately known as “Big Mike, who died on April 20.

Photo illustration by Luis Ruiz.

Payne attended, but did not play in, the match with the Plainfield 8 Ballers on April 18—his birthday. He was there to cheer on his team (which Ewing won 22 – 17) and provide lunch. It is incumbent on the home team to provide lunch for all the players.

See story: Ewing Pool Sharks devour competition in first season.

It has been well known throughout the league that if you came to Ewing you were certain to get a good shellacking on the pool table, and it was just as certain that you would get stellar meal on the lunch table.

Mike made that possible. He was not only a terrific pool player, but a gourmet chef too.

When Payne passed away on April 20, the news rocked the team and elicited condolences from around the league. Mike, you left us way too soon. You will be sorely missed by all.

The Sharks have decided to dedicate the 2018-2019 season in Mike’s memory. The Sharks have continued their winning ways, and with five matches yet to go, are 15–0 with 5 games to go. Last season, their inaugural, they were the first team to ever go undefeated, with a 20–0 record.

It looks like there is a good chance that the Sharks will repeat that feat this season.