Closing out the 1940's

Our sport has always had various issues to be dealt with, some more serious or difficult to deal with, but back at the end of the 1940's, there was just plain turmoil amongst the NHPA leadership. Looking back from this late date, one can see that the issues at that time, whether one considers minor or major, initiated one of the most major transformations the NHPA has ever experienced

In the last two NEWSLINE issues, we read Leland Mortenson's accounting of our sport during the 1940's. He alluded to the controversy about count-all scoring. From the very beginning of the NHPA, the sport was "tournament oriented." There were leagues in the 20's and 30's, but most were town teams that traveled a circuit, playing against neighboring town teams. There were leagues in the 1940's, but the NHPA did not have the sanctioned league program at the time and the greater majority of league players were not members of the NHPA.

There was a movement within the ranks, to have the NHPA give equal recognition to league participation as to the promotion of tournament participation. It reached a point where Ohio even requested a second charter, so there could be one for those for count-all scoring and one for those wishing to remain with cancellation scoring. The movement reached a climax with Arlo Harris being elected NHPA president and heading the list of his agenda, the acceptance of count-all scoring. Believe it or not, all, since the beginning, had been cancellation scoring. Today, the predominant scoring in sanctioned league play is count-all scoring.

Turmoil is a fair appraisal for what was going on - it lead to the sudden resignation of the NHPA President and a large alternative horseshoe group being established in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky - the AHPA. The AHPA was established under the leadership of Arlo Harris. The AHPA focused on league play, which used count-all scoring exclusively, including their state tournaments. While not as large as it once was, the AHPA still exists.

Today's NHPA membership is predominantly league oriented. A smaller percent of our membership participate in tournaments, as was the case during the initial five decades. The Sanctioned League Program was finally established in 1976, as designed by Donnie Roberts.

So, here are some footprints as printed in THE HORSHOES PITCHER, that give some image to what initiated the transformation from tournament focus to league focused.

This first article is from the August 1949 issue of THE HORSESHOE PITCHER, published by Editor Byron Jaskulek, who also served as NHPA 1st Vice President. Just by the tone, we can tell that there was considerable friction amongst the NHPA officers.

By Byron Jaskulek, 1st Vice President

It is really too bad that the following report of the President of the NHPA, for 1949 did not reach me in time to publish it in the July number of this magazine. Like all information that has come to me throughout the past year, it has come to me NOT through our President, but from different friends in the organization. This is a sample of the reasons why Mr. Harris and the other officers have never gotten together on any ideas for the good and welfare of the National Association. Not once in the past year has he taken the trouble to ask any of the officers on the Executive Board for their opinion on anything which he had in mind for the good of the game or the National except to ask for our vote on whether or not to give the Buckeye HPA their charter. On the other hand, he did appoint an Advisory Board to whom he tried to give voting power to which he was foolish enough to believe would or could supersede the powers given to the Executive Board whose powers were given to them in the Constitution and By-laws of the NHPA. And who were the men appointed to his so-called Advisory Board? His own henchmen - those whom he was sure would vote his way. The Board consisted of fifteen men, eight of whom he could twist around his finger. He uses the word "selfish interests" very frequently. Those words cover a lot of latitude. Why not be specific? As far as the meeting at Indianapolis was concerned, counting his own men, there would have been at least ten men present; surely a large enough meeting.

About paying dues cards in advance. He says the other officers screamed the loudest against it. He's right; but he did not hear the louder screams from the membership at large that Mr. Clear and myself heard. His ears probably were only turned into Ohio and Indiana but ours were on the national hook up! In the July number of this magazine, Mr. Clear said that some of Mr. Harris statements were lies. They probably were because he has lied twice more in his report. He says that Mr. Clear FORGED his signature to the Buckeye charter and that I wanted my magazine to be designated as the official organ of the NHPA. I said I would not want it to be so designated if it meant controlling my editorial policy. And my policy has never changed even if Mr. Harris says so. His idea of the National publishing their own paper is O.K. by me. The time, effort and expense I have put into it absolutely DOES NOT PAY.

And General Motors! Someone who got in touch with them said he was told that they knew nothing about it. And about those checks that Mr. Clear sent Mr. Harris to sign. Article III Section 6 of our constitution says, "any bill of account or expense against the association amounting to over twenty dollars shall be submitted to the Executive Council and paid when approved by four out of the five other officers."

Personally, I am in agreement with most of Mr. Harris' sixteen points especially point No. 14. I'll be in Murray when this issue comes off the press, but I made arrangements to have copies air mailed to me so they will get there during the convention where all can read this and form their own conclusions.


Horseshoe pitchers of the nation, I feel that it is just as necessary for the President to report to you in regard to the workings of this organization as for the other officials to do so.

I was happy to serve as President of the NHPA and hoped very much to move the organization forward with harmony and cooperation and with the aid of the Executive Council, get the NHPA out of its doldrums and shallow thinking - and relieve it the selfish interest that is revolving around just a few scattered men over the country who are exclaiming in word and very little action what our associations needs.

I have found in the one year that I have been President the word "Progress" means nothing to the members of the Executive Council and that building a sound financial organization is far from their thinking! Promotional ideas introduced by your President have been completely ignored by the member of the Executive Council - Mr. Wertz, Mr. Clear and Mr. Jaskulek. Why? I presume because of selfish interest. These men - along with many other - are forgetting the men who are really building the game.

Gentlemen, it is the men who pay $1.00 for a combined dues card, belonging to the organization, who never plan to attend a national tournament, who possibly don't pitch well enough to get into a state tourney, that enjoy pitching in an individual city park or church league. I am sure most of these would not venture 3,000 miles to a NHPA World Tournament where their chances of getting in would be slim indeed. This being the case, what else do we have to offer them - as members of our association?

Yes, gentlemen, that's where you begin to build. Factories, playgrounds, church leagues, juvenile programs - where you have the greatest participation is the foundation for a great institution. You don't build around 24 to 36 top-ranked shoe tossers whose only interest is a sponsored NHPA tourney.

Gentlemen, I have argued and fought for a revised constitution and even offered to pay the expense of a Constitution Committee to Indiana for this purpose in order that we might have something to present to the convention floor. What happened? You know as well as I. The men who are holding back the progress of the NHPA said it was unconstitutional, that the idea was crazy, that we are wasting time, that some couldn't come to Indiana, and well, you know as well as I the outcome! Why? Because of selfish interests! They knew we intended to put teeth in the law, and they just didn't want that.

I asked for a dues card similar to that used in bowling, providing for dues to be paid in advance. This would make a sound financial basis for both state and national, but I ask you "Who screamed the loudest?" Your 1st Vice President, Bryon Jaskulek, your Secretary-Treasurer, Harvey Clear and "Pop" Woodfield. Gentlemen, the idea of sending out dues cards that get lost and are never accounted for must stop.

Mr. Clear complained in letters to me about the stamp tax, about the dues cards being lost, about charters and what have you. Yet, everything that was proposed was thrown overboard. Take the Buckeye situation. Mr. Clear got himself into that through poor management under Mr. Woodfield's administration. We here in Indiana and Ohio were ironing out the difficulty without too much trouble. However, Mr. Clear became angry with Mr. Sebek and through selfish interests, made a serious mistake by issuing a charter to the Buckeye group with my signature forged on it. He did this over the heads of the Committee and a majority of the Executive Council. I have conclusive evidence of which I will present to you at the convention.

Gentlemen, the house of the NHPA needs a complete remodeling job!

Mr. Bryon Jaskulek informed me that he wanted his paper to be designed as the "official organ of the NHPA." This I could not do in all fairness to "Pop" Woodfield or any other person who can and will publish a magazine for our pitchers throughout the Unites States. From a lot of the printed material published by Mr. Jaskulek and from information many people have sent him which he refuses to publish, as he says "because of his editorial policy" (which he has changed three times), I wonder if any paper should be the "official organ"! My idea concerning this is that we publish our own paper, include it in our dues system and start hearing from all NHPA pitchers - not just a chosen few, but anyone who carries a dues card.

I only wish I had time to write you all a personal letter stating more of the truths about our association. Gentlemen, when we asked General Motors to give us $10,000 for a World Tournament, they wanted a financial statement about our association. They wanted some assurance as to the number of members in our association - how many would take an active part. In fact, they were not sold on the workings of our organization. I ask you in all honesty and fairness to yourselves, aren't some of these questions pretty rough? Could you give Milwaukee as an example after we all know what happened there? I wonder what you would do if you were trying to get a $10,000 tourney?

Gentlemen, I advocate the following:
1. Revised constitution.
2. Prompt payment of dues.
3. 5 cents tax to be on every pair of shoes.
4. There should be a Secretary.
5. There should be a Treasurer.
6. The Secretary should reside close to the President in order that correspondence could be handled accurately and promptly with all states.
7. Combined dues card.
8. International Association development.
9. Point system or cancellation optional.
10. Further development of National League.
11. Auditing of books by CPA twice yearly.
12. Bonded Treasurer.
13. Recognize all NHPA members according to any record such as bowling in league or any tournament.
14. Let the NHPA publish their own paper and send it to every member; add subscription price to our dues system.
15. Recognition for states that have largest membership gain each year.
16. Let each state delegate bring to convention scrapbooks, pictures, newsreels or any new ides that can be appropriately displayed to show the other states promotional ideas. This should be worked on a competitive basis with a gold medal for the winning state.

Mr. Clear mailed me several blank checks and asked me to sign them. He did not tell me what they were to be used. I ask you - is this the way business should be done? I have asked Mr. Clear for a financial report and for the addresses of all State Secretaries. Did he give me that information? No! Why - I don't know! That is why we need to separate the offices of Secretary and Treasurer. Also R. Clear sent the Buckeye a charter with my name signed to it. Why - I don't know! I am not questioning anyone honesty, but it is just as easy to do things right and fair as it is to get everything jumbled up!

Gentlemen, without vision we die! I only hope what I have said here has added or will add to the progress which our Association sorely needs and can get with men of vision and executive ability to head it.

Yours very truly,
Arlo E. Harris
President, NHPA

This next article appeared in the January 1950 issue of THE HORSESHOE PITCHER. THE Ohio situation is further described by then Ohio Horseshoe Pitchers' Association Secretary, Johnny Kovacs. One thing that strikes this writer is that, at the time, there had not been a handicap system developed with the cancellation scoring method. That is unlike today, where league play can be managed with handicapping whether the league uses count-all or cancellation scoring.


I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the position of the Ohio Horseshoe Pitchers' Association and the majority of its members. I believe that the majority of the pitchers in Ohio prefer pitching the cancellation system over the point system - this was shown in the poll taken by Byron Jaskulek last summer where the Ohio pitchers who voted, showed 5 to 1 in favor of the cancellation system. (I do not know whether six pitchers voted or 360, but regardless of the number, I believe it to be fairly accurate).

When the Ohio Horseshoe Pitchers Association was organized, the method of pitching was thoroughly discussed by the organizing group, which included state champions and future champions that since the primary purpose of the Association was to promote horseshoes in Ohio, this could be best be accomplished through league play which allows more pitchers to take part in our sport than if we just held tournaments at the end of the year. We also decided that if league play was to be continued year after year, with the chances of breaking up cut to a minimum - it had to be conducted under the point system where there is a chance of handicapping the beginners so as to make it interesting for the beginner to take part.

Under the cancellation system, the champions stand out as almost unbeatable and they shine as a "Star." But under the point system, the champions appear only as a player with a higher average and he does not stand out as he would under cancellation.

I believe that since most state associations and also the National Association is composed of and most conventions are attended by champions and near champions, that these champions and leaders are a little selfish in upholding a method of play where their ability shines the brightest.

The champions of Ohio and the organizers of the Ohio Horseshoe pitchers Association were willing to forego the honor of being a "Standout Player" in order to promote horseshoe for all who want to pitch the state of Ohio. Promoting horseshoes should not be just promoting a tournament at the end of the year, but it should promote horseshoes throughout the year, through league play, then after the players have established averages, conducting tournaments, for their respective classes.

The Ohio Horseshoe pitchers Association will continue to promote horseshoe through league play using the point system, even though the majority would prefer to play cancellation individually and unless more State Association leaders and their champions are willing to forego the honor of shining as "Stars" these state associations will continue to show only a small membership.

Johnny Kovacs,
Sec'y O.H.P.A.