1926 World Tournament
St. Petersburg, Fla. - Feb. 8-18, 1926

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:

1926 World Tournament (Winter)

This year presented a tremendous field and as of this writing all of the top ten finishers, except for Fred Nussbaum, are on the All Time 100 Victory List. Also on the list are A. J. Buckman and D. T. Leonard. In doing battle with the 18 veterans, only Gilliland, Robison, McLean and Gourchenour managed to dent the top 22; Gilliland the only newcomer to make the finals. The other 11 of the 15 rookies finished at the bottom of the heap. The expected sensation of this event was Orren 'Putt' Mossman, only 22 years old and seeking to become the first man (documented) to win four consecutive World Tournaments! Young Putt in three short years had won 124 games and lost but six, two of the losses being to Frank Jackson in 1925. It is unfortunate that it is not known, as history has not uncovered this fact as yet, how many consecutive games during this amazing string Putt won.

The other main character in this showdown was legendary Frank Jackson who had never finished lower than fourth in past tournaments, and had to be considered a threat anytime he entered. Also to be reckoned with were Blair Nunamaker, an upcoming superstar; Ralph Spencer, holder of a victory over Putt; and Bert Duryee, who in 1925 participated in the greatest game ever pitched as of that time period. (D. D. Cottrell, in his wonderful historical book Horseshoe Pitching - How to Play The Game, describes in great detail this particular match. He even goes to the extent of showing inning by inning results in two informative pages devoted to the game.)

Feb. 7, just two days before the event, found the N.H.P.A. waiting for a train shipment of Georgia clay. At that time only four of the 13 courts were clay. The other nine consisted of dirt. To the credit of the N.H.P.A., a courageous decision was made that if the clay did not arrive by the start of competition, only the clay courts would be used even if it meant extending the tournament. The clay arrived at midnight on Feb. 8 making Tournament Director E. C. Beach and his assistant D. D. Cottrell (the first World Tournament Statistician) breathe much easier as the courts were made ready for the opening matches. Incidentally, these courts were electrically lighted which allowed night time practice.

In this tournament, each man wore a number pinned on his shirt. For example, Mossman was No. 28. Also, an old disc-shaped Ford timer which measured exactly 3½ inches was used as a measuring device to see that no shoe opening exceeded N.H.P.A. specifications.

Now to the happenings of the 1926 World Tournament itself. Feb. 9, with movie cameras whirling, opening ceremonies began. Among the dignitaries were Mayor C. M. Blanc, Chamber of Commerce president Lewis, and C. of C. executive vice president James Goad. Mayor Blanc pitched the opening game with Mossman. No score was kept during this match.

First day action found the following undefeated: Conklin, Duryee, Jackson, McLean, Mossman, Nunamaker, Spencer and Thompson. Mossman's leading percentage was 63.7 with Duryee, Jackson and Nunamaker all over 60 percent. At the end of the second day, only Mossman (9-0), Nunamaker (9-0), Jackson (8-0), and Thompson (8-0) escaped unscathed. Duryee lost to Nunamaker and Mossman. Blair tossing 69.2, the day's best, at Bert. After three days only Mossman on the heels of averaging 70 percent for the day was able to keep a clean slate, now at 16-0. Without a double miss, Putt threw 23 of 28 for 82.1 against Alex Cumming. Blair Nunamaker dropped his first to Fred Nussbaum in the final game of the day, 50-35. C. R. Thompson went down four times. Duryee threw 56 ringers (a new tournament high) and 70 percent to hand Jackson his first defeat. Ralph Spencer upped his record to 15-1, the same as Nunamaker, with Jackson close behind at 14-1.

Putt Mossman was the star of the fourth day's morning session, winning all seven to go 23-0; his seven victims including Jackson and Spencer. Putt equalled the world tournament record of 10 straight doubles in a cakewalk over Harry Robinson. In a 41-inning match which found 50 ringers tossed by each, Nunamaker bested Jackson 50-47 in a thriller. Each had 14 doubles with Jackson having six ringers come off.

Young Art Cumming defeated his father, Alex, 50-22. Glen Vite received a standing ovation for his first victory, winning over Coy 50-26. Duryee threw 75 percent in just 24 shoes, defeating Coy 50-1. C. R. Thompson upset Nunamaker 50-31. Six men were tied for 10th place with 14 wins.

In the afternoon session, in an exceptional match, Nunamaker, although being out percentaged 66 percent to 64 percent and out ringered 58 to 57, sent Putt down to his first loss in 29 games, 50-42. Frank Jackson trailed Ralph Spencer 32-0 before rallying to an unbelievable comeback at 50-43. The preliminaries concluded with Mossman having the best record, but Nunamaker being the sole man to win all games amongst the bona fide contenders. Mossman set a new percentage record of 67.4

The three-day finals were scheduled to begin on Monday, as the .N.H.P.A. Constitution and By-Laws forbade pitching on Sundays. At stake were prizes ranging from $400 and a diamond studded medal for first place to $100 for 12th. Monday standings found Mossman and Duryee each 9-2 with Nunamaker, Cumming and Jackson all knotted at 8-3. Mossman lost to Jackson and Duryee. Bert pitched 58 of 66 for 87.9 percent to overwhelm Putt 50-22. Shortly after, Bert went down to T. C. Reed 50-34 and in the afternoon took a lacing from Nunamaker 5022. Jackson won all morning matches but lost three in the afternoon, the worst to Duryee 50-23 with Bert tossing 43 of 58 for 74.1 percent. Off the court, E. L. Ematinger was voted new N.H.P.A. President after D. D. Cottrell reluctantly refused to accept the position.

Tuesday action left Duryee alone at the top although losing twice. His conquerors were Art Cumming, 50-31, and C. R. Thompson who threw 60 ringers in 78 shoes for 76.9 percent in a 50-20 romp. This left Duryee 16-4. In a three way tie for second at 15-5 were Mossman, Cumming and Jackson. In the afternoon session, Mossman fell to Cumming 50-45 in 106 shoes with each having 74 ringers creating a new total ringers record for two men (148). Putt also lost to Duryee 50-41 and Jackson 50-37. Cumming lost to Duryee 50-31 in the morning and to Spencer 50-46 in the afternoon. Jackson lost to Duryee 50-33 in the morning and to Spencer in the afternoon. Eight games over 70 percent were pitched for the day. Mossman had four: 77.5 vs Reed, 74.2 vs Thompson, 74.0 vs Nunamaker, and 71.7 vs Brundige. Duryee had three: 76.3 vs Brundige, 73.7 vs Nussbaum, and 70.6 vs Reed in a 50-3 slaughter gaining a measure of revenge for the upset of the day before. Spencer threw 72.1 against Jackson.

The withdrawal of A. J. Buckman, due to a sore arm, caused a special meeting to be called. It was decided in a secret ballot (24-8) that rather than forfeit all games, one victory for each contestant would be thrown out. This set a precedent to aid score and record keepers of the future, as well as tournament officials in making an equitable decision.

On Wednesday morning Mossman, pitching like a champion, moved into a tie with Duryee while having the only games above 70 percent: 70.5 vs Thompson, 80.8 while shutting out Brundige and 75.0 defeating Spencer. Jackson also moved into the three way tie, escaping Nunamaker 50-47 for his closest encounter. Duryee was hammered by Nunamaker 50-33 for his lone loss. Cumming faded from contention, losing to Nunamaker 50-32, Duryee 50-34, and Jackson, 50-45. In the afternoon, T. C. Reed had the dubious distinction of being shutout by Jackson and Mossman. Jackson threw 22 of 26 for 84.6; Mossman threw 22 of 24 for 91. 7 percent, eclipsing the 90 percent game of 1925 for the new World Tournament record. In big matches, Mossman pitched 76.6 against Jackson putting the "Grand Old Man" one game to the arrears. Jackson trounced Duryee 50-16 with Cumming thumping Mossman 50-23 once again creating a 3-way tie. Jackson threw 43 of 54 for 79.6 percent, pounding Spencer 50-17. In a survival match, Putt threw 45 of 60 for 75 percent winning 50-25 over Duryee. This put Bert in an almost hopeless position and, as history shows, one he was not to overcome.

After 32 preliminary games and 30 more matches in the finals, defending World Champion Orren 'Putt' Mossman and many time past World Champion Frank Jackson ended up dead even. This created the first playoff in World Tournament history.

The crowd became riotous when it was learned that the playoff was to be held the following day. To quell the riot, tournament officials promised free admission for the best two-out-of-three game playoff. There were 4500 people in attendance, not counting those on rooftops or in trees. Underdog Jackson won the first game 50-41 with Mossman easily taking game two 50-25. This set the stage for the final pitch of game three.

Even though out percentaged and fighting desperately to hold off Mossman's furious comeback, Jackson led 49-48. Since Mossman had just scored three points in his rally to overhaul a 46-35 deficit, he had the honor of pitching first. With the weight of the title on his shoulders, Mossman missed both shoes as they laid just inside the count. Jackson, feeling pressure also, threw his first shoe even further away. His second, although a miss, landed closest to the peg for the win. This is the only time the World Championship was won on a double miss!

1926 World Tournament St. Petersburg, Fla. - Feb. 8-18, 1926
W.L.R.Sp. Pet.
1. Putt MossmanEldora, Iowa3119651432.674
2. Bert DuryeeWichita, Kansas3029121550.588
3. Blair NunamakerCleveland, Ohio3029051640.552
4.Frank JacksonKellerton, Iowa2939351498.624
5. Ralph SpencerPicher, Okla.2759241728.535
6. Art CummingMinneapolis, Minn.2758941668.536
7. C. R. ThompsonTampa, Fla.2578441746.483
8. Fred BrundigeLake Worth, Fla.22 107421756.423
9. F. W. NussbaumDaytona Beach, Fla.21118021954.410
10. T. C. ReedMcKeesport, Pa.21117771912.406
11.Ed GillilandWichita, Kansas20127711902.405
12.A. J. BuckmanLake Worth, Fla.21117281856.392
13.W. BuckminsterMiami, Fla.19137211780.405
14.D. T. LeonardAdams Basin, N.Y.19137321838.399
15.James McDonaldLake Worth, Fla.17157191860.387
16. George ConklinSt. Petersburg, Fla.17 157051870.377
17. John EstepTiffin, Ohio16 167871940.406
18.Les RobisonPeoria, Ill.14186821836.371
19.Arthur McLeanWatertown, Conn.14187161970.363
20. Harry RobinsonSt. Petersburg, Fla.14 186201824.340
21.Ed GourchenourNiles, Mich.12205711906.300
22. Alex CummingMinneapolis, Minn.12 205851843.317
23. H. F. WagnerGreentown, Ind.11 215631914.294
24. Leroy. C. HillColumbus, Ohio11 217272006.362
25.Frank WitmarWakarusa, Ind.9235921862.318
26. H. C. McQueenSadorus, Ill.8 244801844.260
27. W. A. HardingBowling Green, Ohio8 244781808.264
28. R. C. BurdickSt. Petersburg, Fla.8245461920.284
29. J. F. DeegLansing, Mich.6 264351924.226
30. John BeeseckerCreed, Pa.6 264811800.267
31.Frank LawcockDurand, Mich.1312931698.173
32.Glen ViteBuchanan, Mich.1313491816.192
33. Herbert CoySmyrna, N.Y.1 31 3121748 .178
Totals528 5282224359672.373
Ties for all places lower than twelfth were played off in one 50-point game for each player.
W.L.R.Sp. Pet.
1.Frank JacksonKellerton, Iowa24610931780.614
2.Putt MossmanEldora, Iowa24612011774.679
3.Bert DuryeeWichita, Kansas23710351654.626
4.Blair NunamakerCleveland, Ohio21910641836.5
5.Art CummingMinneapolis, Minn.21911301868.605
6.Ralph SpencerPicher, Okla.171310541852.569
7.C. R. ThompsonTampa, Fla.12189981858.537
8.Fred BrundigeLake Worth, Fla.8227141668.428
9.T. C. ReedMcKeesport, Pa.7237171764.40
10.F. W. NussbaumDaytona Beach, Fla.6246731632.415
11. Ed GillilandWichita, Kansas2 286091622.375
Totals165 1651028819309.533
Grand Totals, Prelims & Finals593 5933253178980.412
The first week the 33 men played each other one 50-point game and prize money below the twelfth place was awarded on the preliminary results. Buckman won eleventh place and started to pitch in the finals, but the first day his arm gave out and he was allowed to stop playing any further games by agreeing to accept the prize for twelfth or last place in the finals.

The second week each of the eleven highest players played each other one 50-point game each day for three days, the championship of the world to be decided on the most games won. Jackson and Mossman tied for championship. They agreed to playoff the tie in a series of best two: out of three 50-point games Thursday afternoon. Each won one of the first two games. In the third game in the forty-third inning the score was Jackson 49, Mossman 48. Mossman pitched first and missed the stake with both shoes. Jackson then pitched and missed the stake with both shoes, but placed one of his shoes nearest to the stake and won the world's championship while thousands of horseshoe fans watched and I cheered with tense excitement as the shoes fell. This is the first world's championship that has ever been won by pitching off a tie.

WORLD'S RECORDS BROKEN - Mossman's total percentage of ringers record in preliminaries, .674; his percentage of ringers record in the finals, .677; his total percentage of ringers record in all tournament games, in both preliminaries and finals, .676, were all new world's records. He equaled his Lake Worth tournament record by pitching ten consecutive doubles ringers in the preliminaries in his beginning game with Harry Robinson, and made twenty-one ringers in the first 22 shoes pitched.