Elsie Baldwin
A Pioneer in Horseshoe Pitching
Presented by Marian Hays

Elsie Baldwin, my mom, was the sole moving source in promoting women's horseshoe playing in the Northwest during the 1920's, 1930's and 40's. In those days, I don't remember anyone talking about the "National", the "locals" were mostly concerned with their new local club's organization, problems and activities. There were at least two clubs in Portland, Oregon that I remember. One was Lauerhurst and the other Rhone Street. Other out-of-town clubs that I remember were McMinnville, Hillsboro and Salem.

During this early, formative time, my mother organized Oregon’s first uniformed women’s team. Since there were no women's teams in other clubs, she challenged local and out-of-town men's teams. (There was a little 'grumbling' from the men about the women beating them!) She encouraged those clubs to form women’s team of their own; thus, women’s teams would travel from town to town for their own tournaments. Elsie being the sixth child in a family of twelve children, she developed sewing skills, so most of the team uniforms were skillfully home-made.

In the 1930’s, she arranged for and promoted the first indoor court in Portland for our rainy Northwest winter months. Members volunteered time, money and effort to build several courts in a former commercial garage.

Mom spent many hours at the two courts at our home in Southeast Portland training, helping and encouraging others to perfect their pitching techniques. Two names of high school students come to mind, Lee and Doug Wright. One of them became Junior Champion of Portland. She coached and then had to beat another woman in a championship game. She always remained friends with her competitors and was known to be a good sport.

Her organization talents were no less than her talents on the courts as testified by numerous City of Portland Championship titles and five Oregon State Championships; in 1928, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1945. There is a wealth of information on her life's contributions in the OHPA Hall of Fame archives.

Elsie Baldwin died in 1998 just prior to her 102nd birthday. She was honored on her 100th birthday by the OHPA for her many accomplishments in the sport and inducted posthumously into the OHPA Hall of Fame in 2001. ____

We wish to thank Marian Hays of Vancouver, WA for sending in the picture and this delightful story about her mom.