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1920 WORLD TOURNAMENT (WINTER)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - FEB. 23-28, 1920

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:

1920 World Tournament (Winter)

The 1920 World Tournament brought forth the following format changes: single round robin; introduction of the 50 point match, 50 points being the maximum score allowed; and final total points, after all games were completed, determining the Championship. Wins and losses had no bearing on the outcome of the tournament.

Opening ceremonies consisted of short speeches by Dr. E. C. Beach, Sunshine Pleasure Club President and Tournament Director, and St. Petersburg, Fla. Mayor A. L. Lang who also threw the first shoe after all the contestants were introduced. Also pitching shoes at the opening were City Commissioner Smith and Fire Chief McNulty. Head groundskeeper for the tournament was Burt C. Snedecker, treasurer of the Sunshine Pleasure Club and 1919 World Tournament participant.

The huge arena was packed long before the matches began in anticipation of the upcoming duels involving a star-studded cast. This included the following giants from 1919: World Champion Fred M. Brust, F. M. Robinson, Industrial Champion Hughie Palmer, Robert Harton, C. A. GIant, J. W. Ogden, G. W. Gunkle, George Vignoe, and Joseph Royer who withdrew early in the past event. Some of the strongly regarded newcomers included Vincent R. Grady, new Illinois State Champion; O. T. Battles, an old warhorse who spent his summers in Chardon, Ohio; and the fabulous trio from Akron: James "Scotty" Rowan, slow and skillful and a master psychologist; Joe Wilkerson, city champion and even money favorite; and George May, fireman, 1919 Ohio State Champion, protege of Hughie Palmer and 3-to-l favorite amongst the bettors. (George May did not begin to pitch until the summer of 1919 when Hughie Palmer taught him to pitch the 11,4 turn. George went on to best Hughie four straight for the State Championship.)

As there were no lights, matches were scheduled mornings and afternoons. In his infinite wisdom, Dr. Beach managed to have feature matches each shift. Hughie Palmer of Goodrich was beaten by his most bitter rivals, Wilkerson of Firestone and Rowan of Goodyear. The other big match was Brust vs. GIant, now also Champion of Georgia, Brust winning 50-45. The next day saw Rowan slowly and methodically defeat Robinson and Brust back to back. This left only May, Wilkerson, and Grady undefeated. Grady fell from contention in the afternoon matches. The next day, adhering to a late night suggestion, Dr. Beach postponed all other matches during the Wilkerson-Brust tilt. The wanted this game on a middle court, but Brust refused to move from Court 1 so there it was held. In a long, tense match, Wilkerson disposed of Brust 50-39, seriously damaging Fred's chance for a repeat title. Rowan was defeated by Harton 50-28 to become an also ran. Brust escaped Mitchella 50-49.

Due to Dr. Beach's creative scheduling and wise use of his power as Tournament Director, George May, to become World Champion, had to defeat the favorite and undefeated Joe Wilkerson and defending Champion Fred Brust in his final two matches. Before the May Wilkerson match all other games were suspended and the Sunshine Pleasure Club took up a collection with almost all spectators donating. May assumed early command and won out 50-37, the most points scored on him in the entire tournament! In May's final match the sentimental crowd was pulling for Brust. If Brust was to remain Champion, he had to beat May at least 50-31 and hope for Harton to beat Wilkerson at least 50-44. History would not have it so as May led the entire match, as in all others, winning easily 50-21. Wilkerson was forced to pitch 27 ringers, the high for one game the entire tournament, to defeat Harton 50-32.

In honor of their first champion, bedlam broke loose in Akron. Fire bells and factory whistles told the whole city of George May's impossible rise from unknown to World Champion in less than a year! Hughie Palmer's dream of becoming World Champion would never be realized but by passing on his secrets as the great veterans of today do so freely, Hughie will long be remembered. His example was carried on by George May, who was to nurture two future champions before the decade of the 20's ended.


1920 WORLD TOURNAMENT (WINTER) ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - FEB. 23-28, 1920
MEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
POINTS RING'S
1. GEORGE MAY AKRON, OHIO 1200 430
2. JOE WILKINSON AKRON, OHIO 1187 379
3. FRED M. BRUST COLUMBUS, OHIO 1153 412
4. JAS. ROWAN AKRON, OHIO 1153 347
5. ROBERT A. HARTON LANSING, MICH. 1151 265
6. HUGHIE PALMER AKRON, OHIO 1120 332
7. VINCENT R. GRADY MAROA, ILL. 1106 327
8. DR. FRANK M. ROBINSON POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. 1084 348
9. J. W. OGDEN KANSAS CITY, MO. 1054 290
10. IVAN R. GORDON VICTORIA, ILL. 988 283
11. ORLIN T. BATTLES SR. ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. 959 217
12. W. W. HENRY LISBON, OHIO 941 209
13. FRANK AMES HASTINGS, NEB. 931 295
14. W. J. LEE ALTOONA, PA. 916 284
15. C. A. GIANT HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA 910 296
16. C. B. MITCHELLA AKRON, OHIO 895 212
17. C. M. HITE BELLEFONTAINE, OHIO 865 138
18. JOHN MILLER ROCK VALLEY, IOWA 851 200
19. GEORGE VIGNOE DETROIT, MICH. 706 192
20. GEORGE W. GUNKLE SHEFFIELD, ILL. 753 180
21. JOSEPH ROYER AKRON, OHIO 744 162
22. S. M. MONFORE SPRINGFIELD, OHIO 708 142
23. A. A. ROOT AUSTINBURG, OHIO 603 102
24. JAMES MCKEON DES MOINES, IOWA 597 97
25. GEORGE MCGREGOR DETROIT, MICH. 590 136
TOTALS 23215 6375
Played under the rules and sanction of the National League of Horseshoe and Quoit Pitchers in Williams Park, on sandy loam courts, with one-inch iron pegs, 40 feet apart, extending eight inches above the ground and leaning toward one another one inch. Ringers counted three; closest shoes within eight inches of peg counted one point each. Leaners not counted except as closest shoe. Each contestant pitched every other man one 50-point game. Total average ringers per game by both contestants, 22.1