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MORE THAN JUST FOLK ART



This cover picture from 1948 just may be the most historic NHPA magazine cover ever. That’s a lot to say, as there have been countless great covers, including U.S. presidents and horseshoe pitching notables. This cover tells of some incredible headlines of the day and also highlights an incredible competitive era of our sport.


Notice the cover itself, a rather homemade looking; amateur produced book. This was a two-year period where the NHPA news magazine did not have the professional look as the decades prior through the Horseshoe World, or the decades that followed through The Horseshoe Pitcher, Horseshoe Pitchers’ News Digest and today’s Newsline. The Horseshoe News was the individual effort by then NHPA president and Hall of Fame member, Harry "Pop" Woodfield. During 1947, 1948 and part of 1949, the Horseshoe News produced off an old-fashioned mimeograph machine; was the only communication for the NHPA members. A little known fact about Mr. Woodfield is that he was responsible for constructing horseshoe pitching courts on the White House lawn during the Truman administration.

The first headline that caught the reader's eye was: Ted Allen 36 consecutive doubles in the World tournament competition. Everyone knows that the great feat of 72 consecutive ringers was accomplished by Allen in 1955 against Cletus Chapelle. Actually, Allen accomplished the feat twice, first in 1948; but over two games. Allen ended one game with 29 consecutive doubles then started the next game with 7 double ringers.

The next headline is the record setting performance by Casey Jones, averaging 87.5% and not winning the championship. In fact, Jones lost three games in that 1948 World Tournament, held in his home state of Wisconsin.

Then, Guy Zimmerman pitched a perfect 44 shoe game, believed to be the first perfect game in a World Tournament.

Isais was named in the headlines, for winning the world's championship in one of the most competitive eras, but probably next to the most competitive era of our sport. This was Isais' third title as he went on to win eight titles in all.

Now looking back, those items weren't really the big news of the day; Arlo Harris elected president is by far the most newsworthy. A whole book could be written about Harris, his efforts and his impact to the NHPA. Ever notice how the NHPA has a league program and league participation that is equal to and maybe even greater than tournament involvement. It hasn’t always been that way. Prior to Arlo, the NHPA was strictly tournament pitcher oriented. While there always have been leagues and town teams, as far back as 1919, those pitchers were not all NHPA members. Harris had plans to change all that and to bring in "count-all scoring". While there was no great success during his term, it was a major thrust of the movement and culminated as Donnie Roberts drafted out the first guidelines of the NHPA Sanctioned League Program, 30 years later. Today; league players out-number tournament pitchers, a fact that would seem improbably in the 1920’s or 1950’s.

Tommy Brownell is pictured on the cover. For those who may never have heard of Brownell, he is one of the three players to defeat Casey Jones in 1948. And in 1955, when Ted Allen again had 36 consecutive doubles (all in a single game), in a different game, he matched up against Allen, to mark a new record of 50 four-deads in a single game. Brownell’s accomplishments are not limited to World Tournaments. He was a six time New York State Champion.