1909 World Tournament
(summer), Bronson, Kansas
Permission granted by author, Gary T. Kline of
Gary T. Kline's book on past world tournament (before 1980) is recommended reading for any horseshoe pitching enthusiast. With his kind permission, we bring excerpts from his fabulous collection of data, to wit:
"The Official N.H.P.A. History of the World Tournament 1909-1980", Reflection Press, Dayton, Ohio
Perhaps it is fitting that as human beings, we do not remember our own birth and must rely on stories handed down as to the circumstances surrounding that important event. With this in mind, let us try to assemble the known facts of Year One of the World Horseshoe Pitching Tournament before we allow ourselves the luxury of conjecture.
It is known that an unnamed promoter of a Colt Show* brought this event about by advertising it as a World Horseshoe Pitching Tournament. With the winning of this tournament was to come the title of Official Horseshoe Pitching Champion of the World and the awarding of a World Champion Belt. It is also known that this was a single elimination event.
The number of pitchers and their names are unknown except for Frank Jackson of Blue Mound, Kansas, who won the tournament. It is quite likely that this event drew a large number of entries, necessitating a one loss and out format. The only known person still alive to witness the 1909 World Tournament is Clarence Townsley, also of Blue Mound, who later became Frank Jackson's father-in-law.
Horseshoe Pitching was quite popular in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. Earlier records show matches being played in 1900 in Independence, Missouri at their Convention Hall. (Perhaps this is where President Harry S. Truman developed his love of the game.)
Team matches were often staged in the years prior to 1909. An individual tournament was held at Kansas State University in Manhattan in the year 1907. Frank Jackson won that also.
Horseshoe clubs were known to exist in Long Beach, California; St. Petersburg, Florida; East Liverpool, Ohio and Meadville, Pennsylvania. Meadville is reputed to be the oldest in the land having a club prior to 1900. Students at the University of Pennsylvania were pitching during the 1800's according to their 1922 student newspaper, when they were trying to revive the game.
Horseshoe pitching was also known to be in existence during the Revolutionary War. Ben Franklin was thought to be a pitcher.
It has been said that an annual World Tournament was held every summer in Kansas City, Missouri from 1910 to 1919. Hopefully, if after further investigation this proves correct, the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association will graciously sanction these tournaments so that these also will take their rightful place in the archives. This will also bring into recognition other of our earliest members who helped the sport expand and organized Horseshoe Pitching to survive.
*–– We now know the 'unnamed promoter' to have been "Col. Lucky Dennis Long, a local auctioneer. The following was published in the Bourbon County Bronson newspaper:
Of Fine Colts on Saturday
Big Crowd Attended
Many Prizes Given
The greatest thing of its kind ever pulled off in the eastern part of the state took place in Bronson Saturday when a thousand people gathered from every direction to witness the colt show instituted by Col. L. D. Long, the popular auctioneer of the county.
The event seemed like an old fashioned Fourth, the day opening with sunrise salute. All day long the crowd remained interested and eager to see all that went on. The weather man did himself proud and granted the finest day in his list. No marshal of the day was there and none was needed.
The band did an excellent job and furnished good music throughout the day. Col. Long 'pays the bills' and peanuts galore were distributed to the crowd gratis. A lunch stand and a cream stand were kept busy throughout the day, and several more could have made good.
Prof. Turner H.R. Wright, assistant in the department of animal husbandry at the state agricultural college at Manhattan, was present for the colt judging, and his judgement was held by the horsemen present as very expert. The satisfaction with his work was very general. His sorting of the colts and judging was a matter of no little value to persons interested in good horse blood.
The country undoubtedly never before saw such an aggregation of fine horse blood. One hundred and thirty-nine colts were listed for the exhibition and nearly every one was present and the judging was no little task.
Gard Robinson, of Blue Mound, won first prize, $25, for the best draft colt from Don Juan and on the same colt won sweep stakes. L. D. Hayes, of Bronson, won first prize, $10, for poorest colt.
John Hoffman, of Bronson, took first money, $10, for the best colt by the Orville Holeman horse, and Chas Booth first money, $5, on colts from L. A. Platt horse.
Coonie Smith of Spring Valley, took second sweepstakes on all colts by any sire.
On road colts, Coonie Smith of Spring Valley, took first place and Gilley Mapes, of Moran, second.
On mule colts, William Rogers of Bronson, took first place and Ray Smock of Morand, second place.
One good feature of the judging was that Prof. Wright was entirely ignorant of the ownership of any of the animals. When he placed the ribbons on the two mules he mused to himself that they belonged to the same man as they were much alike and remained together like old acquaintances and that there would be a kick on giving the same owner two prizes. He was agreeably surprised to learn afterward that they did not belong to the same man.
The horse shoe game attracted much attention. For several days Bronson pitchers have been putting in their spare time casting the symbol of good luck in the hope that they might become expert by the bid day. But Bronson lost out. Thirty-four men entered the game. W. F. Jackson and Lonnie Wilson of Blue Mound proved the best at pitching shoes, receiving $2.50 each. Jackson then took the belt from Wilson. Jim Hunnel, of Bronson then challenged Jackson for the championship, and was "skunked" in two games.
The patting contest was won by Frank Black, Bronson's chief of mud-mixers and cement walk layers, and was awarded $2.50.
The fiddling contest was won by Lonnie Wilson, of Blue Mound, who received $5.00.
Taken as a whole the day was a complete success and many have been the expressions of good will to Col Long in his big undertaking. This good will was evinced when the hat contest came on in the program. The crowd hauled the Colonel from his stand, carried him away and made a little purse with which to present him with the best hat purchasable, instead of allowing him to all of the entertaining and treating.
As a result of the big show Bronson merchants did a tremendous business, people coming from all the surrounding towns and driving many miles to witness the show of fine animals. ...
Note: Gleeman Dennis Long, son of Col. L. D. Long, explained "Col." was an affection given to Long by friends, but his real names was indeed, "Lucky Dennis Long". Gleeman was one of two sons and currently resides at Sterling, Kansas. The NHPA Hall of Fame plaque honoring L. D. Long is proudly displayed by Gleeman on his mantle. Gary T. Kline wrote to Wanda Goode, a grand daughter of L. D. Long, saying Lucky Dennis Long was inducted into the N.H.P.A. by acclamation, an NHPA Hall of Fame first. And, compared Long to horseshoes as Abner Doubleday to Baseball