NHPA Hall of Fame History

by Earl Winston
(first published in NEWSLINE)
It came to mind that a lot of horseshoe pitchers might be thinking that our Hall of Fame is almost as old an institution as the pitching of the annual World Tournament. Such is not the case, so I'd like to take this opportunity to give you a brief history of how the Hall of Fame was born and who some of the people are who have kept the committee functioning through the years.

The idea of establishing a Hall of Fame was discussed for several years and finally a committee was appointed to lay the groundwork, establish guidelines and bring their proposal to the NHPA Convention in 1965. The committee chairman was Carl Steinfeldt of New York. His committee members were Elmer Beller (CA), Leland Mortenson (IA), Marvin Chrisman and Bob Pence, both of Indiana.

In July 1965, the NHPA President, Harold Craig, commented that these gentlemen had come up with the finest set of suggestions and rules possible and their proposal would be brought before the delegates in August 1965. The delegates approved their proposal and the NHPA Hall of Fame was born.

That first Hall of Fame committee then asked the NHPA membership to provide some nominees to be considered as the Charter Members of the Hall of Fame and those people would be inducted in 1966. The nominees could include players or non-players, active or inactive, living or deceased. The committee would then select three players and three non-players for induction. I can't find the records as to the election procedure used by this committee, but some early records indicate they may have used a voting system of 3 points, 2 points and 1 point, with the candidate getting the most points declared the winner. I can't find that a candidate had to achieve a certain percentage of the total possible vote, as the current Hall of Fame Committee now requires.

Whatever system they used, that early committee did come up with three players as charter members, but when they counted votes for the non-players they had a tie for the last position, so decided to induct four non-players as Charter Members. The Charter Members in the player category were Ted Allen (Boulder, CO), Frank Jackson (Kellerton, IA) and Fernando Isais (Los Angeles, CA). The Charter Members in the non-player category were Archie Gregson (Crestline, CA), David Cottrell (Cohocton, NY), Ray Howard (London, OH) and Arch Stokes (Salt Lake City, UT). Ray Howard published Horseshoe World magazine for many years.

As some of the original Hall of Fame Committee were distinguished persons within our sport, some had been nominated and received votes from fellow committee members. It was felt that perhaps eligible candidates should not be serving on the Hall of Fame committee, so the committee was reorganized in 1967 and Marvin Chrisman was appointed chairman.

For three consecutive years two players and one non-player were induced, even though the committee continued to undergo changes in chairmanship. James Johnson (KY) and then Carl von der Lancken (NY) kept the committee functioning. It was under Carl's leadership that the first women were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Vicki Winston was first in (in 1970) and then Laura Lanham of Illinois.

Elections continued with two or three individuals being inducted each year until an Old Timers category was added in 1975. This category has since undergone some revision. The numbers of persons serving on the Hall of Fame committee was increased from the first total of five to the present total of fifteen.

Following Carl von der Lankan as chairman was Bernard Herfurth (MA). Then came Ruth Hangen (NY), Barry Chapelle (OR) and now myself. With all the years of pitching history and the tens of thousands of players that have come and gone, there have been 122 inductions into our Hall of fam. Sixteen of these are women and a few of our inductees are from our neighboring nation to the north, Canada.

We continue to urge or membership to submit nominations of worthy individuals who should be recognized for what they have accomplished on the national or World Tournament level. (Outstanding individuals, who have been active only on a sate or local level, should be submitted to their own state Hall of Fame.)

To nominate a candidate, do some research and write up a history of their accomplishments in a form suitable for photocopying. Your nominee must have been an active adult NHPA member for at least ten years. Give reasons you think they are worthy of nomination and include outstanding pitching performances if applicable. If you have a photo available, send it along. The Hall of Fame Chairman communicates deadlines, and other specifics in the NHPA publicaion, Newsline and on horseshoepitching.com.