Lee Rose Story

The Lee Rose Story, or As the Case May Be, the Lee Jacobs Story

There are countless interesting stories and characters in our sports history, but no mores amazing than the life of Lee Jacobs. The first half of his life and his horseshoe pitching career, he was Lee Rose. As Lee Rose, he was a champion pitcher, and a Hall of Fame promoter of the sport and provider of service to the NHPA. His major accomplishment was the publication of the Horseshoe Pitching Compendium in 1940, while he was serving as NHPA Vice President.

In the 1950's and '60's, Lee was back to being Lee Jacobs, still a champion pitcher (Michigan state champion in 1955) but was foremost known as the owner and manufacturer of the Lattore Horseshoe Company. Lee was inducted to the NHPA Hall of Fame in 1984.

This story is made available to us through the efforts of Steve Summerlin, who acquired Lee Jacobs' handwritten journals. Those journals, six volumes in all, tell of Lee's whole career in his own words, including Lee's referring to himself as the "Flower of Detroit." Those journals in time will be typed up and published as a paperback book. More on that later...

Following is a reprint of a 1930's newspaper clipping found tucked in one of the Rose journals. This is a delightful article that gives us the story behind the assumed name.

Champion Had to Overcome Father's Horseshoe Phobia, False Modesty and a Stage Name Taken by Rose

“You won't believe it, but Lee Rose, champion horseshoe pitcher of Michigan, had to run away when he was a little boy and even assume a stage name to keep his father from knowing that he was learning to pitch horseshoes.”

And so it develops that the champion horseshoe pitcher of Michigan isn't Lee Rose at all, but Lee Jacobs.

Before Lee's story is told however, it should be explained that he and his father, Julius Jacobs, prominent Detroit horses dealer and auctioneer are not mad at each other and actually lived as neighbors on Shaw Avenue.

Lee on Monday morning will begin his training for the world's championship in Moline, Illinois.

His struggle to reach the peak of the ancient sport in his home state is loaded with much incident.

Papa Loved Horses, But...

The whole trouble started because Papa Jacobs loved horses and hated horseshoe pitchers, while Lee hated horses and admired horseshoe pitchers.

"Yep, my Dad wanted me to become a great horseman and be a great rider like the polo players," said Champion Jacobs in relating his rise to fame. "But I was 13 years old and if ever there was anything I didn't like, it was horses. I just liked horseshoes and the people that threw 'em on the stakes." "That's right," interrupted Bob Omans, widely known sports enthusiast, who devotes most of his spare time to telling the Free Press about chess and checker champions and what a swell horseshoe pitcher is Lee. "Yes sir, do you know that when we were kids all of us used to cry for nickels to go see cowboy pictures and we couldn't get Lee to go - just because he hated horses so."

Had To Dodge Cameras, Champion Jacobs continued, "Well, I loved horseshoes, so I would run away to tournaments. I knew my Dad would be mad if he caught me, so I told the people at the tournaments that my name was Lee Rose, and boy was I glad I did, for I won the first tournament I ran away to and because I was only 13 the papers wanted pictures of me. I ran back home before they could get any pictures, but the papers the next day told what a great feat a thirteen year old boy has accomplished against a lot of guys old enough to be his grandfather. But they used the name of Lee Rose and nobody at home knew I was that little guy. You know it's funny, because I never wanted my picture taken, everybody thought I was modest and I'm not at all. I wanted my picture taken all the time."

Just then Booster Oman interrupted again with: "Tell him about your boy, go on, tell 'em."

"He means how funny it is about my boy and my father," Champion Jacobs explained. "You see I hated horses and my father loved them. And my boy, Lee Jr., (he's 5 years old) has made my Dad happy by being crazy about horses. He won the juvenile riding contest last week at the Northville Fair."

Lee then revealed that horseshoe pitching is getting too rough and unruly and that the national organization intends to do something about it. It seems that a lot of new boys are breaking into the game that don't know the ethics. You are not supposed to yell and scream at your opponent or walk in front of him.

“You can throw a horseshoe pitcher off his stride easier than you can a golfer,” Jacobs explained. “Horseshoe pitchers are a very temperamental lot, most of them. I’m talking professionals, of course, I guess maybe all the publicity they get goes to their heads.”

30 Ringers in a Row
"On Champion Jacobs good days, using the regulation forty-ounce shoe, he can throw 30 consecutive ringers and on his off days around 14." Boswell Omans interjected with pride.

The horseshoe pitcher was more astounded, however, at the information that city boys are better than country boys at horseshoe. Champion Jacobs was unable to explain.

Before Omans took his horseshoe champion away, he wanted his chess and checker public to understand he has not deserted his favorite pastime. "Tell 'em that the reason I want to see Champion Jacobs get along with the papers is because he and I used to be kids together and I like to beat him at checkers and he likes to show me up at horseshoes."

Jottings: Answers to last issues trivia questions. Dan Kuchcinski pitched in the Junior Boys Division in 1962 and 1964, did not win a Junior title, but won the Men's Championship in 1967, 1968, 1970. Brian Simmons pitched in the Junior Boys ranks in 1976, 1977 and 1978, pitched over 70% each year but did not win a Junior title, but came back to win Men's Championships 2000 and 2002. Kevin Cone pitched three years as a Junior, but never qualified for the Junior Boys Championship Class. He played in Boys Class F in 1977, won Class B in 1978 pitching 74.5% and placed 4th in Class B in 1979. Kevin Cone was the Men's World Champion in 1992.

Three Junior Boy's World Champions that went on to win Men's World Titles: Walter Ray Williams Jr., Mark Seibold and Alan Francis.

Tari Carpenter won the Junior Girls Championship in 1976 and as Tari Powell won the Women's Championship in 1984, 1990 and 1991. Sandy McLachlin pitched one year as a Junior Girl winning the championship in 1986. She then had the big victory in the Women's Division the next year 1987.

Two girls who did not win Junior titles but won Women's Championships: Cathy Carter in 1993 and Becky Kemper in 1998. Carter pitched as a Junior in 1978 and Becky in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996. As a Junior player, Kemper had a runner-up finish in 1995 and placed third in 1996, but no Junior championships. Carter placed third in her only Junior Championship Class appearance in 1978.