Where Are They?


Writing articles about shoes that no one/ including myself, has ever seen can be a bit difficult. Sometimes the only information is a one-time ad found from 70 years ago or an old rules brochure that turned up at an antique shop. This article will attempt to talk about two shoes that I doubt any present-day members have ever seen or even heard about. No ads have been found for these two shoes. We don’t even know if the shoes actually progressed to the stage of production and being a marketed shoe. Then why write about them? The shoes are interesting. Both shoes were patented/ both shoes probably had prototypes developed and just maybe someone, somewhere, sometime may come across one. This way we all have a chance to know what we may have found when we find it! Here we have a little bit of history that deserves a mention, not to be ignored, lost in time or forgotten.

In 1935, Lewis LaVoice of Springfield, MA, applied for a patent on his newly designed shoe. That patent was approved June 2, 1936, with one-half of the patent being assigned to Earl Rowe, also from Springfield. There is no mention of the relationship of the two individuals and after some research, nothing turned up about either as far as being known promoters or players of the game. No doubt, Rowe had entered into some agreement in the production of the shoe.

The shoe design at first glance seems typical to the other shoes of the day, but actually the convex or protruding ringer breaker was a first. Several shoes from that period were promoting the concave or inverted ringer breakers. The angle of the inner edge of the hooks was far more extreme than other shoes and verges on innovative. The stated value of the design was to slide more true on the dirt up to the stake rather than bounce erratically or off the stake.

Our second shoe was designed by Melvin Flick of Stillwater, Oklahoma. He applied for patent on September 20, 1935 and received approval June 30, 1936. The draft supplied with the application is the only evidence we have of this shoe, but gives indicators that are dead give-aways for identification, if one is ever found. This is the only hooked shoe known to have round or peg style calks. William Martin did have a hookless shoe with peg calks, but the Flick shoe is the only hooked shoe with that shoe design.

Mr. Flick’s patent applications are one of the few that references the National Association or their rules for shoe dimensions. This surely indicates that he was a pitcher and member of the NHPA, but after doing some research, his name didn’t come up anywhere as a pitcher of note. He also redefined the parts of the shoe, as we know them. This series has used many terms to describe various parts of a shoe, most of which has been derived from old rules brochures, etc. Most references have been made to hooks, calks and the toe of the shoe. Well, here’s how Mr. Flick termed the parts in his dialog. The toe is the ’crown’, the blade is a ’leg’, the hooks are ’prongs’, calks are ’caulks’ and the ringer breaker is a ’spur’. I can only image what the term would have been, if his shoe had an inverted ringer breaker. Probably the ’dent’

Are we eventually going to find one of these shoes or both for that matter? Who knows? The point is, even if that does not happen, at least we still know about them and that is the real importance.