Jimmy Risk

In this issue we will read an article honoring the great Jimmy Risk. The article by G.C. Moshier tells much of Risk's early life and accomplishments. The article appeared in the March 1969 issue of the Horseshoe Pitcher's News Digest; that was two years before Risk's induction into the NHPA Hall of Fame in 1971. Risk passed away May 26, 1974 at age 65.

A Salute to the Great Jimmy Risk
By G.C. Moshier, St Petersburg, Florida

"It was the unheralded Risk, a lad in his teens who came out of Montpelier, Ind., and electrified the horseshoe pitching world in the 1927 world championships in St. Petersburg, Florida. He swept 25 straight games in the preliminary round robin and then finished second to Davis in the triple round robin finals, in which he beat Davis two out of three.

Although Risk never did win the world's championship tournament, he was a strong contender and a seven time Indiana State Champion. During Army service in World War II, he traveled more than half a million miles in that conflict and later in the Korean War entertaining our servicemen with his spectacular horseshoe pitching.

Risk once gave 80 horseshoe pitching exhibition in 29 days for our servicemen, accompanied by his pretty wife, Norma. He made seven trips to Japan, six to Korea, four to the Philippines and 12 to Hawaii as a USO entertainer, delighting men in all branches of the armed forces with his horseshoe pitching prowess. He once performed within 2,000 yards of the battlefront trenches in Korea, ahead of the artillery. He also toured service bases in Europe and Africa.

He pitched ringers before cheering servicemen from the aisles of theaters, over the orchestra pits and onto stakes on the stages. And he pitched aboard Navy ships on high seas.

Risk brought international publicity to horseshoe pitching when he pitched before then President Harry Truman and Admiral Nimitz on the White House lawn.

Risk has appeared in sport shows the length and breadth of the land, co-featured with such athletic greats as Ted Williams, Sammy Snead and Jack Sharkey; he appeared with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Andy Devine and Smiley Burdette on rodeos; gave exhibitions of horseshoe pitching on the Art Baker and Mike Douglas TV shows and made horseshoe pitching movie shorts for Bill Stern and the late Grantland Rice.

From 1927 through 1933, when he finished third behind Ted Allen and C.C. Davis in the World Tournament at Chicago, Risk was a consistent contender in horseshoe pitching competition.

His service to his country was both as a soldier and as a USO entertainer, pitching before servicemen on or near the war battlefronts.

Jimmy and his wife Norma own their own home in St. Petersburg, Florida, and have made this city home for some 20 years. Jimmy still never refuses a request to give benefit exhibitions, appearing often at the Bay Pines Hospital of the U.S. Veterans Administration here in St. Petersburg to entertain the disabled veterans."

History Jottings
As a teenager Jimmy Risk was entering his first World Tournament in 1927, Sears & Roebuck was in their third year of advertising commercially manufactured pitching shoes in their nationally known catalog. Most manufacturers provided a rules brochure along with the purchase of a pair or set of pitching horseshoes. Some of the brochures even had some hints on how to pitch better. The older brochures have become quite a collector's items, and this rare Sears & Roebuck which dated c. 1925, was purchased on eBay in 2008. The how-to-pitch section is highlighted by the three ways to hold the shoe. Believe it or not, a very common hold at that time was with the forefinger wrapped around the heel calk of point of the blade. Don't laugh too loud; Frank Jackson won a number of World titles with that hold, (six to be exact).