Womack already was a formidable One Pocket player when Greenleaf appeared in Eufaula in 1936.


By Brandon Scott King

Billiards Digest columnist George Fels once said that in the era of so-called “Rebel traps” tables with tight pockets, that Glenn Womack was among those southerners universally considered as unbeatable. Womack even tangled with the legendary Johnny “Irish” Lineen during the 1940s — and held his own. Remarked billiards writer Eddie Robin: “Anyone who could play ‘Irish’ even up in those days should be considered an all-time great, win or lose.”

During his 63 years, Glenn “The Eufaula Kid” Womack was an actor, an athlete, a soldier, and a bootlegger. But mostly he was a pool player — and for awhile he was one of America’s best. Here’s a look back.

The Early Years
Womack was born in Indianola, Oklahoma, on February 6, 1919. He took his name, however, from the town of Eufaula, eighty miles south of Tulsa, where his parents moved the family to a rent farm at about the time he started school. An enthusiastic student, Womack made the honor roll and graduated from high school a semester early in 1938. Described as happy and carefree by classmates, Womack excelled as the starting quarterback for the Ironhead football team and displayed a surprising talent for acting in school plays. He even listed “Actor” as his civilian occupation when he enlisted in the Army. Womack sustained injuries from shrapnel during combat in Sicily in World War II, resulting in a scar and that restricted mobility in his right knee.

In July 1936, while Womack was still a junior in high school, thirteen-time world champion Ralph Greenleaf made a surprising appearance in Eufaula. Disheveled and broken down, Greenleaf was arrested for possessing a half-pint of liquor. He also bore marks on his arms from drug use. In a now famous story, Greenleaf proved his identity to the local mayor by running 84 points in Straight Pool in a pool room across from the courthouse. It’s easy to envision the then 17-year-old Glenn Womack and the other “Billiard Boys” from Eufaula High School eagerly looking on during this prodigious feat. According to Eddie Robin, Womack already then was a formidable One Pocket player, although it’s unlikely that he and Greenleaf would have had a chance to match skills before the legendary champion and his companions made their hasty exit from town.

The Eufaula Kid vs. The Tuscaloosa Squirrel
We also find evidence that Womack and Marshall “Squirrel” Carpenter, another legendary player, faced off a couple times in late-night gambling sessions in 1952. In their initial encounter, Womack easily defeated Carpenter while giving him an 8-5 spot playing winner breaks. This amounted to a significant handicap between professionals, especially considering that Carpenter would later become the One Pocket world champion at Johnston City in 1962.

According to reports, Womack secured his victory by running out the set with three consecutive break-and-run games, denying Carpenter a chance at the table. It’s a performance that stands as a testament to a bygone era in One Pocket, given that today’s rules require a re-rack whenever a player pockets a ball on the break.

Later Years
In the 1960s, Womack relocated to the West Coast, gradually shifting his focus from pool and other adventurous sidelines (like running moonshine) to more conventional sales jobs. The Womack family, like many others from Oklahoma, had moved to California during the Depression and stayed throughout Glenn’s freshman year of high school before returning to Eufaula. The move to Southern California was a natural one, especially since Glenn’s younger brother Jackie was already living in Pasadena. Glenn and wife Norma Louise (Foster) Womack ultimately settled in Glendale with their three children.

Although Womack chose not to participate in the tournament at Johnston City, opting to stay closer to home in California, he did compete in the Western States Pocket Billiards Championship at the Golden Cue in Long Beach in November, 1965. Golden Cue proprietor Charlie Milliken, seeking to draw attention away from the Johnston City tournament held simultaneously in Illinois, assembled a top-flight field of local players that included Vern Peterson, Ronnie Allen, Richie Florence, future cue-maker Bill Stroud and a 46-year-old Eufaula Kid. It was a grueling month-long round-robin with races to 11. Womack jumped out to an early lead in the 9-ball-only event by winning his first five consecutive matches. However, Ronnie Allen ultimately prevailed.

Tournament promoter and former road player Jay Helfert recalled encountering Womack by chance a few years later in his Bakersfield pool room. “The first time he walked into my pool room, he was all the way at the back table, practicing by himself,” said Helfert. At that point — the year was 1971 — Womack was in his fifties and looked like an ordinary old man passing the time, said Helfert. However, the promoter’s attention was soon drawn to the sound the balls made coming from the back of the pool room.

“I’m going about my business at the counter, and I could hear that click of the balls, that sound where you know somebody knows what they’re doing,” Helfert recalls. “I started watching from the counter, and I see that the guy’s getting down on the ball, he’s got a good stroke.”

Helfert points out he was willing to play anybody in that phase of his pool career, but Womack declined his offer to play 9-Ball. “Nah, I’m just practicing,” Womack said.

“But we got to talking,” Helfert continued. “We never did play, we never gambled. But we got to talking. I said, ‘My name’s Jay Helfert,’ and he said, ‘I’m Glenn Womack.’”

Helfert developed a closer relationship with The Eufaula Kid during Womack’s subsequent visits to Bakersfield in 1972 and 1973 to see his eldest daughter. Following their time in California, Womack and his wife relocated to Bellevue, Washington, where he worked as a shoe salesman for the Frederick & Nelson Department Store. He passed away on December 21, 1982, at the age of 63.


Brandon Scott King is the author of The Oklahoma Roots of One Pocket, which is available now for pre-order. If you’re interested in buying the book, send an email to books@rabbihippie.com.