More of the Rare Ones


   There are many gaps in the information about old pitching shoes. Simply, there is no book or single source to look to, to find information about the old treasures. This is one aspect of our sport that has not been recorded or documented very well. There has been about five years of intense research to reconstruct some sort of reference for identifying these important artifacts of our sport. The research has proved difficult to find information, but by combining a bit of data found in old hardware catalogs and bits of data found elsewhere, gradually a file is being developed.

   There are the rare ones (shoes) that we are aware of but cannot find a specimen. There are manufacturers that we have some awareness of but have little or no information of what type of shoe or models they produced. Then there are cases where shoes are commonly found and are in collection but we have no idea who made them or when or where. Here are some more of the rare ones. Keep in mind that these shoes are presented in hopes that some of our members can add information so we can someday develop a full catalog knowledge of all pitching shoes.

   The Erie Malleable Company of Erie, PA advertised their Ermal shoe through the Horseshoe World in 1935, which were listed as a sanctioned shoe in 1936. This company was listed as a pitching shoe manufacturer in the Franklin Directory of American Manufacturers from 1936 through 1941. Although being a sanctioned shoe by the NHPA and existing during a time when the sport was extremely popular across the whole country, just one Ermal hookless shoe and one hooked model are in a private collection. At least by this find we have the information that Erie Malleable did produce two different models of shoes.

   Probably the most unusual of the rare-shoes is that designed by William F. Madison of Rochester, New York.click to enlarge Madison received a patent for his design on November 3, 1936. The reprint of his patent draft shows how unusual or advanced his design was for the time. Madison advertised in the 1935 Horseshoe World and was listed in 1936 as a sanctioned shoe. It is only by the finding of his patent that we know of the strange design of his shoe for the ads were all pictureless. Pitchers of the time must not have bought into the new design, even though a 1936 ad boasted of 17 consecutive doubles pitched. There are no Madison shoes listed in collection.

   Another shoe that has evaded all collectors is the Durable shoe produced by the Lancaster Malleable & Steel Corp. The first ads appeared in Horseshoe World in 1936, and without pictures, so there is no present way to know what the shoe looked like or what type of model was produced. The ads addressed the new tougher shoe made of a special alloy, even though the make-up of the alloy was not described. This shoe was also an NHPA sanctioned shoe. The ads seemed to stop in the Horseshoe World after 1937 with no further mention of their product, yet the company is listed again in 1949 in the Sporting Goods Directory as a horseshoe producer. If that period of time was a continual period of production, it sure doesn't explain why there are no Durable shoes reported in collection.

   Another rare shoe is the Anchor-On by Anchor Horseshoe Company of Fresno, CA. The shoe was listed as a sanctioned shoe in 1936, then from Los Angeles. The only ad so far retrieved is a pictured ad from the 1940 Compendium a book produced by NHPA Secretary Lee Rose. The ad presents an interesting aspect, the shoe was endorsed by Ira Allen. A little-known name to today's pitchers, Ira was the brother of the famous pitcher Ted Allen. Ira, a champion pitcher in his own right, won his first State Championship in Colorado in 1923 at age 13. Still, no Anchor-On shoes are reported in collection.

   The Hawley shoe would be a prize find for any collector, and so far none are known to be in collection. An ad for this shoe first appeared in 1939 through the Horseshoe World. The shoe was named after the designer, C.H. Hawley, and produced by The Extruded Metal Products Company of Bridgeport, Ohio. The main selling point was that it was made of solid bronze. Over the years of our sport, there have been a number of bronze and brass shoes, but by the records recreated to this point, this is the earliest known bronze shoe. The ad boasts of the shoe's designer pitching 97 ringers out of 100 shoes and had pitched 72 consecutive ringers. Hawley may not be a common name to us today, but a bit more research finds that Grover Hawley was a five-time Ohio State Champion in the 1940s. His shoe had a plain brandless top side but the shoe is unmistakable with the bold engraved Hawley brand on the underside. The. novelty of the bronze creation must not have created a big market-there are no Hawley shoes reported in collection.

   There are manufacturers known to be producers of horseshoes with no knowledge of what kind of shoes or models made. The main assumption is that they produced brandless shoes and we may never know any more about some of the companies. By writing about some of these companies, a bit more information may turn up. Pictured ads would be the most informative. Most collectors have a number of brandless shoes. Each year it seems more are positively identified as research continues. Slowly, over time, we will continue to match the brandless shoes with the mystery makers.

   The first mystery company is the Craftsman Tool Company of Champaign, IL. This company is listed in Franklin's Directory from 1924 through 1926. Now there is a Cushman Company listed in 1923, also in Champaign, but that is probably a misprint or the company was bought by or merged with the Craftsman Company. There are no instances where companies are known to produce shoes for just one year. There are no Craftsman shoes found by this company's brand name, although there are many shoes bearing the name Craftsman. They were actually made by the Marion Tool Corporation of Marion, Indiana. The Indiana company is first listed in 1936. The 10-year gap makes it rather unlikely there is any correlation between the two companies. Marion Tool produced three models through the 1930s and 1940s: a plain bookless model, then-first hooked model had very small blunt hooks, and the supreme design, the Craftsman Ace is rare in its own right, for only one set is known in collection. The Craftsman shoes have no relationship with the Sears & Roebuck Company, although the catalog did sell pitching shoes for decades.

   Another company is the St. Louis Horseshoe Company of St. Louis, MO. Their first ad appeared (pictureless) in the 1935 Horseshoe World. There is a shoe branded STL, assumed to represent St. Louis, of which there are three shoes known in collection and probably is a match for this company. The STL shoe has extremely heavy calks and is a clumsy looking shoe that resembles other 1930 shoes. They're rather ugly, so ugly they're beautiful.

   The final shoe of review this issue is just maybe the most attractive of all the bookless shoes-the Cleveland. Produced by the Cleveland Hardware Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, this plain bookless model just seemed to have such balance and flair and the neatness of brand logo.The first pictured ad appeared in the 1927 Horseshoe World. The ads ceased in 1929, a fairly short-lived span in production. Whether shoes can be graded on artistic value or not, there are only three Clevelands known in collection-the Cleveland shoe is one of the rare ones.