His mother, Mary, used to play foosball tournaments all over the country and now helps run them. Her son said he has been playing "since I could see over the top of the table" and has also been playing professionally since he was 11, when he beat one of the top players in the country.

"I smoked him," Moore said with a laugh. "That's when I thought I could do this for a living."

Admittedly, neither Spredeman or Moore expect to get rich playing foosball, but both said it was "cool" to travel around the world doing it. Unlike tennis, more of the money is in doubles — both are among the top doubles players as well — and on big paydays they usually don't pocket more than $5,000.

Given that many of the big tournaments include playing up to 15 matches a day for four or five straight days, "It's takes a lot out of you mentally and physically," Moore said.

Moore's regular doubles partner, 52-year-old Todd Loffredo, estimates he has won "about 25" world championships and 80 major titles since taking his first event as a 17-year-old in 1977. Loffredo, who was also playing singles and mixed doubles (with Grogan, a longtime friend) at the Holiday Inn Columbia this weekend said the game has changed over the years.

"It's a smarter game now. It used to be a little more bar-style and not so disciplined. Now it's more passing, taking your time, a lot more structure," said Loffredo, who was inducted into the Foosball Hall of Fame in 2005. "It's more speed. This game takes some speed, it helps. A lot of coodination, so it takes a lot of practice."

Loffredo said he used to practice "six, seven hours a day," but now can get away with an "hour or two, kind of keeping sharp." He said experience counts, "but it helps to be young with reactive speed."

Loffredo used to be neighbors in Columbus, Ohio, with a nine-ball pool champion, and they used to try to hustle each other in their respective sports.

"You can't hustle like in 'The Hustler'," Loffredo said.

Watching Moore manipulate the side handle — hint, it's all in the wrists — the ball moves back and forth as if it were on the feet of the players on Spain's World Cup-winning soccer team.

Suddenly, it disappears as he registers another goal that can be heard, but not quite seen.

The only thing that's blurred these days are the shots.

This is not your father's foosball.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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