EXERCISEºRECREATIONºSPORT


HORSESHOE COMPENDIUM

Page 81

     It was shortly before Lundin retired that a Des Moines man whose name is now forgotten, promoted some matches at the fair grounds. In one of these Lundin beat Jackson six straight games, and in another, C. C. Davis vs. Jackson, an amusing incident occurred.
     Davis and Jackson had put up a side bet and there was a small sum of gate receipts to be divided. Jackson's shoes continually fell short of the stake, but Davis shot a high ringer percentage. Immediately after the game, Jackson measured the court and found the stakes to be 41 feet apart. Why 41 instead of 40? Tom Fogarty, of Des Moines, and long associated with horseshoe pitching, says that Jackson's friends claimed that Davis had purposely practiced on 41-foot courts and that the night before the match Davis or some of his friends went to the fair grounds and moved the stakes.
     At any rate, Fogarty says, the promoter couldn't get anything settled; that Mr. Corey, of the Fair Board, was called to make the decision, which he promptly did by tossing the funds into the school fund.
     The three Des Moines high schools adopted horseshoe pitching as an inter-school sport in 1924, and Lyle Brown was secured to serve as coach for all three schools. The athletic board evidently didn't have much interest in trying to make a success of it for they merely drove a couple of stakes in some cinders behind out-of-the-way corners of the schools. The poor courts made a poor appearance, as did the out-of-the-way location.
     Why was the game dropped? It couldn't have been because of lack of interest for there were more entries for horseshoe pitching than for track, for which reason the track coaches grumbled about horseshoes "taking away material." Did the sport attract the rougher element of the school? Well, hardly, for of the ten men on the North High team, all graduated with excellent records, five graduated from college, and one, the City High School champion, is now a foreman in a Des Moines factory. The City School athletic director opposed horseshoes upon the grounds that it lacked enough action, but she favored golf, a sport with less action.
     It was about 1924 or shortly before that the Des Moines horseshoe pitchers organized a club and held regular Sunday morning tournaments at what are now called the Birdland Courts. The results of these tournaments were published regularly in the press. This was not necessarily the first such club in Iowa, but it was the best known, as it still is. Since that time many other active clubs have sprung up such as those at Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Adair and Ankeny, with its electric lights.

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