If You Find One of These, Call Me!


Howard Pintler (Peoria, Illinois) was only the second person to make application for patent of a horseshoe design. His application was dated October 22, 1921. This was prior to the popular Ohio and National Standard shoes establishing their hold of the horseshoe market. The patent was granted on January 27, 1925 and is a historic piece to our sports artifacts.

To say the very least, the draft of his shoe design is interesting. Pintler catered to the players holding the shoe in a very unorthodox method by today’s standards. In 1921, most players hooked their forefinger around one of the heel calks or points of the shoe. That was the style in those days. Oh, Pinter referred to the calks as ’lugs’.

The pad addition to the blade could be beneficial to ¾ or l¼ turn pitchers, but that turn probably had not been developed yet, although George May was introducing the 1¼ turn at national tournaments during 1920. Pintler’s design probably would not benefit those pitching 1¼ turns or the flip shoe, which was also commonplace in those days.

That design still today would be allowable as long as the NHPA granted initial sanction. There is no reason to believe that the sanctioning wouldn’t be granted, as the pad on the blade is part of the original design and a constant feature of the shoe. If an individual pitcher modified a shoe by welding and adding that pad for his own purpose or advantage, then the change would not be allowed.

Pintler’s patent leaves lot of questions. Did he assume all pitchers were right-handed or did he expect that left-handed players could hold the shoe upside down? Maybe he intended to also manufacture some models for left-handed pitchers? There is the question of whether his shoe ever made it to the production line? He did however, have the innovation of trying to replace the need of using the shoe off the horse to enjoy a game of horseshoe pitching. That was a mention (in part) in his application: “Such games have been played by using cast of horseshoes, which are usually rough and have sharp edges, and are inconvenient to hold or pitch. The object of my invention is to provide an article, similar in shape and size to a horse shoe, but arranged to be easily held and pitched without liability of tearing or wearing the skin from fingers of the players.”

The application made no mention of a national organization or standard shoe dimensions, so Pintler probably was not a star pitcher, or an association member, but rather a sport enthusiast who saw a potential niche to help a sport and just maybe, make a buck. There is no knowledge that a Pintler shoe exists, but that doesn’t mean that someday, one won’t show up. If you find one – call me.