1915 World Tournament (summer),
Kansas, Missouri Oct 23, 1915

Permission granted by author, Gary T. Kline of
"The Official N.H.P.A. History of the World Tournament 1909-1980", Reflection Press, Dayton, Ohio
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:

This was the first known World Tournament in which fairly accurate statistics were recorded. Even so, many particulars of this event were omitted. Almost all of the contestants were listed by last name only and no indication was given as to the players' hometown or state. There was no mention whatsoever of a doubles, or a team tournament, which also occurred. This author and fellow students of this sport will be forever indebted to Neil Price for his everlasting contribution to the history of horseshoe pitching. Due to his diligent search and inquiry, we can now describe that which took place so many years ago.

In the year 1915, organized horseshoe pitching was still in its fledgling state - played mostly on a local or regional level. an this year, Ohio became the first to hold a State Championship.) The real hotbed of the sport was in the tri-state area of Iowa, Kansas and Missouri with both Kansas Cities being the undisputed Mecca of it all.

An organization of Jackson County experts, called the Grand League, was host to the World Tournament. The official titles to the winners were issued by the American Horse Shoe Pitchers' Association. The official shoe of that time could not exceed 7 inches in length; the outside measurement no more than 6% inches in width. There could be no more than 3 1/2 inches between heel caulks and the weight of the shoe could not exceed two pounds, two ounces. Distance between stakes was 38 feet.

As an indication that horseshoe pitching survives generation to generation by word of mouth, many backyard pitchers, unaware of the N.H.P.A., still use the outdated scoring rules of 1915! A game consisted of 21 points. Ringers counted five points. Leaners counted 3 points. A shoe within 6 inches of the peg counted 1 point providing it did not strike the ground further that 12 inches from the stake.

The exact number of contestants in this field is a mystery. The nine more total wins than total losses is a glaring error. The newspaper accounts say there were 25 contestants although the 25th is not mentioned. This still leaves an imbalance of games pitched. Thirteen men pitched 25 games, nine pitched 24, and two pitched only 23! Newspapers also say three unnamed men, one each from California, Ohio and Illinois, finished out of the top 20. This implies at least 25 participants. Each man was to play each other only one time, meaning at least 26 were in the field. Therefore two "phantom" pitchers each met 13 of the field. One, the other, or both "phantom" players combined met nine others of the field. Both neglected to play two of the group. The "phantom" pitchers played a combined total of 35 games. In a field of 26 men, 325 victories are possible. To make up the win-loss discrepancy of nine, the "phantom" pitchers would have had to have won 13 and lost 22, balancing the scales at 311 won-311 lost. Now add nine possible victories for those at 24 games each and it equals 320 wins – 320 losses. Now add two games each for the two men the "phantoms" neglected to play and the total now balances at 324. The "phantoms" did not play each other which accounts for the 325th win, thereby in part solving this mystery of the number of contestants.

This tournament shaped up to be a super duel between Jackson and Pierce. In a match only six weeks before this classic, they threw 29 ringers in a 21 point game with Jackson winning. In 1914, Jackson won the World Title and immediately went home. Pierce, the 1913 Champion, reported the results of the 1914 World Tournament to the press taking credit for defending his title when he indeed did not. Pierce, in 1915, added to his shady reputation by jumping teams in the Grand League. He then jumped back to his original team when the Grand League ruled against his first move. In this World Tournament, Pierce never played to his potential while Jackson was awesome, his lone setback was to his doubles partner Ed Hollingsworth, 21-20.

The Doubles Championships were of a much more exciting nature. After finishing 1st and 2nd in the singles, Jackson and Hollingsworth were virtually conceded the doubles title. In a tremendous surprise, a gentleman known only as Mr. Fox teamed up with Baldwin to win the doubles with a sparkling 16-1 record. Fox led the scoring parade with 217 points, throwing more ringers even than Jackson. Trahern was almost as brilliant in his team play. Collins equaled Fox in ringers but, judging by his point totals, probably threw more shoes.

For winning the World Championship, Jackson was awarded a golden Horseshoe as well as $10. Second place was $6 and third was $4. Twenty extra merchandise prizes were also given to the contestants in the Singles and Doubles tournaments as gifts from the host merchants.

As sure as the future will uncover the mysteries of the past, 1915 will be fondly remembered as the cornerstone in reconstructing these long lost tournaments!

After a closing dinner at the Grand Hotel, 60 Grand League members gathered at Judge W. W. Lacy's courtroom for the selection of new officers. Henry Meade was elected President. Charles Maloy was elected Vice-President by acclamation. Walter Trahern, the former publicity man, was elected Secretary and again appointed to the publicity job. L. A. Lilly was elected Treasurer. William Morse was elected Grand Organizer for Kansas, with George Alwes appointed his deputy for Missouri. Frank Crum was elected Grand Referee by acclamation. Elected to Trustees were "Ace" Radabaugh, William Crick, and O. W. Anderson. Anderson had charge of the several thousand souvenir programs of the 1915 event and their distribution. Perhaps all of the worthy pioneers of horseshoe pitching will be discovered before this century ends!

1915 World Tournament (summer), Kansas, Missouri Oct 23, 1915
      W. L. Pts. R.
1. Frank Jackson Blue Mound, Kan. 24 1 584 97
2. Ed Hollingsworth Quenemo, Kan. 21 4 549 84
3. Walter Trahern Kansas City, Mo. 19 6 457 74
4. Robert Pierce Rosedale, Kan. 18 7 514 88
5. William Crick Independence, Mo. 18 7 458 71
6. Adams Kansas City, Mo. 15 9 456 63
7. H. Lacy Kansas City, Kan. 15 9 435 68
8. W. N. Baldwin Kansas City, Mo. 15 9 413 62
9. O. W. Anderson Kansas City, Kan. 14 10 418 57
10. Charlie Claypool Independence, Mo. 14 10 457 74
11. Collins Kansas City, Kan. 14 10 409 65
12. T. Malloy Kansas City, Mo. 14 10 450 70
13. "Candy Kid" Nace Independence, Mo. 12 12 360 60
14. Wassar Unknown 13 12 411 61
15. Ashner Kansas City, Kan. 13 12 377 59
16. Martin Kansas City, Mo. 12 13 425 62
17. Leach Kansas City, Mo. 9 16 335 49
18. Harry Bowers Independence, Mo. 9 16 389 48
19. Charles Malloy Kansas City, Mo. 8 17 347 36
20. R. Tyree Kansas City, Kan. 6 17 275 39
21. Willis Unknown 6 19 287 38
22. A. B. Argenbright Kansas City, Mo. 4 20 236 26
23. Peterson Kansas City, Mo. 3 20 273 30
24. Donovan Kansas City, Kan. 2 23 214 18
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