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Weenie Beenie: A Filet in a Hot Dog World

Bill "Weenie Beenie" Staton, who died in February, was the rare player who could bridge the gap from poolroom to board room.

By R.A. Dyer

Staton cut a dashing figure in an often shabby setting.
He wasn't the most graceful of players. He wasn't a child prodigy, nor did he suffer a hard-luck life. He never hustled for his next meal.

But Bill "Weenie Beenie" Staton still was a pool player of the old school, a successful business owner and one-time college man who could get just as comfortable mingling with the country-club set as in those backwater rooms where men carry cash loose in their pockets.

I devote this month's "Untold Stories" to the paradox that was "Weenie Beenie," a man who was charming, dapper and educated - but also wildly competitive, fearless, and, ultimately, a predator. He was that rare poolroom animal who could gracefully straddle both the straight life and the sporting one.

One by one, they're leaving us, those old-time '60s roadmen. Jack "Jersey Red" Breit died from cancer a while back; complications following a blood clot took Eddie "The Knoxville Bear" Taylor last year; Billy "Cornbread Red" Burge is gone, and so too is Larry "Boston Shorty" Johnson. And now it's Weenie Beenie's turn, God bless him. He passed away Feb. 18 at Grand Strand Regional Hospital near his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He was 77.

During his life, Beenie wore many hats: He was a college student, a business owner, a TV trick-shot artist, an avid golfer, a devoted husband, a father - the list goes on and on. In the pool world, his highest official accomplishment was his victory at the 1972 Stardust Open one-pocket tournament in Las Vegas. But Weenie Beenie also won the Virginia State Pool Championships five times, placed in the money at various national-class events and frequently left with the cash during after-hours match play. Last year, Beenie became one of the first inductees into the One-Pocket Hall of Fame. Steve Booth, the man behind and its much-appreciated Hall of Fame, said that in contrast to his playful sounding name, Weenie Beenie was one of the game's most dignified and well-respected personalities. And by his willingness to wager giant pots against monster competition, said Booth, he earned for himself a reputation for fearlessness. "He was a fantastic example of someone who can be successful as a pool player, as a gambler - but also as a parent and businessman," said Booth. "He was a real gentleman, a real ambassador for the game. He would fit with any sort of crowd. He probably made more TV appearances than anybody outside Fats and Willie Mosconi, but he was also a threat to beat anyone, at any time."

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Since 1978, Billiards Digest magazine has been the pool world's best source for news, tournament coverage, player profiles, bold editorials, and advice on how to play pool. Our instructors include superstars Nick Varner and Jeanette Lee. Every issue features the pool accessories and equipment you love - pool cues, pool tables, instruction aids and more. Columnists Mike Shamos and R.A. Dyer examine legends like Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats, and dig deep into the histories of pool games like 8-ball, 9-ball and straight pool.

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