Casey Jones

This issue, we will read about Hall of Fame pitcher Casey Jones through the mind of another Hall of Fame member, Roy Smith. Some may say Casey Jones is the best horseshoe pitcher to never win a World title. He certainly is one of the best to never claim a title, and certainly was a top contender in one of the most competitive eras of our sport. Even though this article was written over sixty years ago, for the May 1949 issue of the Horseshoe Pitcher, we can rely on its authenticity, as Roy Smith was right in the thick of the action and the day.

By Roy W. Smith, Author of "Science at the Stake"

Charles, "Casey" Jones is 30 years old and started pitching ringers at the tender age of 11 when the horseshoe courts in a park near his Waukesha home captured his interest. Constant practice sharpened his skill so that by 1930 he placed third in the first tournament he entered - the Wisconsin State Junior Championship and went on to win the Junior Championship in 1931 when he was fifteen. Because he was under age, Casey was unable to enter the 1934 State Men's Tournament, but the youth could not be long denied and he copped third place in the Midwest Meet at Des Moines. In 1935, he won the first in a succession of ten Wisconsin State Tournaments and in the same year he placed fifth in his first World Tournament at Moline, Illinois.

As the years went by, Casey continued to mow 'em down and his record shows that he won the Midwest Tournament in 1937, the National Olympic Championship in 1938, placed second in the Midwest in 1939, fourth in the 1940 World Meet and bounced back to grab third place honors in the 1941 World Tournament. At the 1940 World Meet, in Des Moines when Ted Allen and Guy Zimmerman pitched the greatest game on record, Casey defeated Fernando Isais and kept him from winning the world's championship crown that year. Jones should have downed Allen too then and had he done so, Ted would have been out of the running. The score was 49 - 46 in favor of Jones and Allen missed the peg with both shoes! While Allen stood by with his heart in his mouth, Casey stepped up and prepared to deliver the mercy stoke to his long time rival. All he had to do was score one point to shut Ted out. Casey swung his shoe and Allen and the large crowd of spectators watched it arch toward the stake in breathless suspense. The shoe went wild! Gone was one of Casey's chances. But he still had another one and that's all he needed. He wouldn't miss this time and jaw was set in a determined manner as he again took his stance. With infinite care he gripped the shoe and swung it up in a high arch toward the stake. Allen squirmed as he watched it travel through the air. Why, oh why had he missed with both shoes he asked himself. He was fully disgusted with himself. And then a horrified cry came from the throats of the hundreds of spectators. Casey's second shoe had gone wild like the first one! Like another famous Casey of baseball fame. The mighty Casey had struck out. Oh! My friends, you may be sure that there was no joy in Waukesha that night. Allen recovered from his astonishment and went on to win the 1940 World's title once more.

But you can't keep a good man down and Casey has been back on the firing line in the National tournaments each year since. Like Guy Zimmerman, Casey has not given up his relentless pursuit of the crown. He hung his old mare moccasins up for a year or so and joined the Navy Air Corps in December 1942. The Japs were trying to cancel out the ringers of freedom and justice for everyone in the Pacific and Casey didn't like the way they were playing the game. He was in the service until November 1945 during which time he flew 30 missions in the Southwest Pacific, putting the deadly accuracy to mighty good use.

In 1946, Casey again took his place in the limelight when he won the State Tournament and took second place in the World's Meet at Des Moines. He lost the championship by a scant one per cent to his old rival, Ted Allen who was also back from Army service in Alaska. Casey won the first Masters Tournament opened to the World in July 1947 and the State meet both without losing a single game and averaged 80% ringers. He placed second in the World's Tournament at Murray, Utah, losing to Isais, the winner, by a one game margin. At Milwaukee, Wisconsin last year, Jones broke the world record of 86.1% set by Zimmerman in 1940, by averaging 87.5% for the entire tournament of 31 games. Think of it! Almost 90% ringers over a period of five or six days under grueling and continuous pressure like that. And he won 13 of these games with 90% and over. This is going to be a tough record to beat.

Casey excels in bowling too and his two chief rooters are his attractive wife Mary and his small daughter, Nancy Ann. They always try to be on hand to cheer for "Papa" Casey and will probably accompany him to Murray, Utah again this year when he makes another bid for the World's title. Those guys, Allen, Isais and Zimmerman have been in his hair long enough. They have stood in his way just once too many times. He intends to do something about it this year for he is a frustrated and determined man. The crown is going to rest on his own curly locks for a change. He is tired of being a prince in the horseshoe kingdom. He intends to become the king. And I am going to stick my long bony neck out and predict that Casey Jones will win the World's title this year at Murray, Utah. My good friend Dean Brown, who is an old veteran of great ability here in California, concurs with me in this.

In making this prediction, "Brownie" and I are not discounting Isais, Allen and Zimmerman and others by any means. But we figure that considering all normal breaks and a few average upsets that usually occur in all tournaments, Casey Jones should win. He is long past due for it and he won't have an easy time doing it for it may be a long hard grind of 35 games. Casey is far the youngest of the Big Four and his youth should be in his favor when it comes to endurance. But anything can happen in a horseshoe tournament and it usually does. In a few months we will know if we are right or wrong in our prediction.

In any event "The Mighty Casey" has won many countless honors, which definitely place him in the Horseshoe Sport's All-Time Hall of Fame. He is a fine show pitcher too and the people who are fortunate enough to see him perform are always assured of a fine performance whether he is demonstrating his ability in daring exhibitions or straight competition. All of us who are associated with the sport are mighty proud of "Wisconsin's Wonderful Wizard." His name will be one to conjure with for several years to come among those who participate in the major tournaments throughout the country. Yes, "Casey Jones is this fellows name and it was on a horseshoe court that he won his fame!"

Well, you should have figured out that Casey Jones did not win the 1949 World Tournament. Who did, you ask? Why don't you refer to your copy of “The Official N.H.P.A. History of the World Tournament 1909-1980” written by the late Gary T. Kline?

Don't have a copy you say. Then you should get in touch with your nearest N.H.P.A. Games Related Sales representative or contact the Hall of Fame Game Related Sales staff directly to make arrangements to have a copy shipped out to you. This time I will help out, but it is time to order the World Tournament History book if you don't have one.

At the 1949 World Horseshoe Tournament, Casey Jones ended up third on a 31-4 record while averaging 80.4% ringers. The champion was Fernando Isais (83.8%) and Ted Allen was runner-up (82.0%).