1954 World Tournament
Murray, Utah - July 22-29, 1954

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:

1954 World Tournament

In 1953 the N.H.P.A., in an attempt to please the sponsors of Murray, Utah, once again changed the World Tournament format to create better spectator interest. Perhaps the only way to be positive the last match would decide the tournament would be single elimination as in 1909. For the meager amount of prize money that has always been awarded, this would be ridiculous. No great pitcher would travel across half a continent for this type of tournament, let alone the lesser skilled pitcher.

Very few men believe they can win the Title, but round robin play, even if it does have drawbacks, gives a pitcher the thrill of playing all of the great ones. What many sponsors forget is that when the N.H.P.A. gathers yearly, the vacationing families put nearly a million dollars in that community's coffers.

The 1954 format of eliminations and the count-all method used in Class B caused many to go home early and a number of pitchers to not come at all! These conditions make it easy for other cities to lure the World Tournament away as they want the event scheduled in a manner that will keep many people there for the duration.

At the 1954 convention, President Dale Dixon stated that each N.H.P.A. member would receive a copy of the tournament results. Un fortunately none of these are known to exist. The method of play of future tournaments was another much discussed topic. Dolan and Tate were in favor of a 36 man round robin with the top six men in a playoff. Casey Jones felt the 36 man round robin should be sufficient. Ted Allen favored the 36 man round robin with the top four in a playoff. The majority of delegates favored Allen's idea. Ohms put this in the form of a motion and Allen seconded it. The motion was passed. The membership voted unanimously against the count-all method.

The 1954 method had six groups of six with one seeded player heading each group. The other positions were filled in order of qualifying. This was to be the last time the "Big Four" of Isais, Allen, Jones and Zimmerman would ever meet in the same World Tournament. This was Jones' last performance giving up at an early age the chase for the elusive World Title. The same was true for Zimmerman, who had the misfortune of having his car roll over his legs to end his great career.

Eight of the first 12 casualties were Wahlin, Hosier, Galpin, Peterson, Jennings, Winston, Vogel, and Beller. Elmer Beller, one of the great administrators of the sport, was making his only appearance in the Championship field. The other four eliminated had higher percentages than some survivors. They were Moefield, Wiley, Dahl and Ohms, who had the 14th best percentage of anyone in the event.

The 24 men left were divided into three groups of eight with only the top two finishers to advance. The next 18 eliminated were Lange, both Edmonsons, Tate, Weeks, Babush, Bennett, Sechrist, Gandy, Shaw, Somerhalder, Dixon, Brown, Cherrier, Kraft, Anderson, Chapelle, and Standard. Of the 28 veterans, only six were left. Of the 19 men who made the all time top 100, all but six were gone. Two of these were rookies Weeks and Wahlin.

The remaining six men would all end up in the top 25 of all time. These six would playa round robin; the top two finishers would then playa best of five playoff for the championship. These six put on one of the greatest shows of all time. As a group they averaged 83.5 percent.

In the first game Isais (84.2 percent) bested Steinfeldt (82.8 percent), 50-45 in 140 shoes. In the second game, Allen (90.1 percent) topped Dean (81.2 percent), 50-20 in 112 shoes. Also, Zimmerman (87.5 percent) defeated Isais (86.8 percent), 50-40 in a lengthy 152 shoe match. In the third game Jones (84.7 percent) handled Allen (83.3 percent), 50-37.

Meanwhile, Isais pitched 90 percent while whipping Dean in 70 shoes. In the fourth game, Allen (87 percent) edged Steinfeldt (85 percent), 50-48 in a long 154 shoe cliffhanger. In the final game Isais (85 percent) nipped Allen (85 percent), 50-48 in 140 shoes. The records for the finals were these: Zimmerman (86.5 percent, 50), Isais (85.2 percent, 4-1), Jones (83.5 percent, 3-2), Allen (85.0 percent, 2-3), Dean (78.9 percent, 1-4) and Steinfeldt (80.4 percent, 0-5).

This set up the great match between seven time World Champion Fernando Isais and the great Guy Zimmerman, unknowingly getting his last chance to win the coveted World Championship! To a stranger Guy would be the underdog, but to those in the know, Guy would be the favorite. In World Tournament competition, Guy had a 5-2 lifetime edge over Isais at this point in time.

In the first game, Zimmerman (88.6 percent) beat Isais (85.4 percent), 50-36! Game two was Zimmerman (89 percent) over Isais (85.9 percent), 50-39 in 128 shoes. In game three, it was Zimmerman (85.9 percent) tripping Isais (83.0 percent), 50-40 in 140 shoes. For the three games, Guy averaged 87.8 percent while Fernando averaged 84.8 percent and never won a game. History would not deny Guy Zimmerman his day in the sun as it had Casey Jones.

In a beautiful gesture, Guy and Fernando gave the shoes they pitched in the tournament to the two leading Junior pitchers. Guy had fulfilled his destiny and is now a member of the N.H.P.A. Hall of Fame. On a sad note, Guy is the only World Champion since 1933 no longer with us. What great memories he would be able to provide on what he and horseshoe pitching did for each other in his lifetime.

Ralph Dykes, via John Lindmeir, was thoughtful enough to send the author the game by game results for this year. Don't be surprised if in a revised edition of this book a more detailed account of 1954 is found.

1954 World Tournament Murray, Utah - July 22-29, 1954
Qual. W.L.R.Sp. Pet.
1. Guy ZimmermanDanville, Cal.544200 1659 197084.2
2.Fernando IsaisLos Angeles, Cal.5405 51582 187284.5
3. "Casey" JonesWaukesha, Wis.532143 1213 1466 82.7
4.Ted AllenBoulder, ColoD.C.125 1234 148283.2
5.Carl SteinfeldtRochester, N.Y.508116 1130 140880.2
6.Louis DeanPomona, Cal.504116 1037 135076.8
7.Truman StandardCanton, Ill.48293738 100473.5
8.Glen AndersonMoline, Ill.49684790 103076.6
9.Ron CherrierNorthfield, Minn.49675 60484471.5
10. Cletus ChapellePortland, Ore.47375 64790871.2
11.Harold ShawWhat Cheer, Iowa4947 568097269.9
12.Roland KraftLeCompton, Kansas4926672999473.3
13.Dean BrownLong Beach, Cal.4866665392270.8
14.Ed BabushHollywood, Cal.4846660088268.0
15.Dale DixonDes Moines, Iowa50357719 101071.0
16.Sam SomerhalderGuide Rock, Kansas4535767595870.4
17. Alvin GandyTopeka, Kansas48457641932 68.7
18. George SechristHuntington Park, Cal.4915761991467.7
19.Lowell EdmondsonPlainfield, Ind.4694865394469.1
20.Jim WeeksNorwalk, Cal.4564857985867.4
21.Milton TatePeoria, Ill.5014858386667.3
22.Cherry BennettKaysville, Utah5004856986665.7
23.Leighton Edmondson Midvale, Utah46439594910 65.2
24.Marion LangeBondurant, Iowa4703953185062.4
25. Ray OhmsSalt Lake City, Utah4812329742270.3
26.Stan DahlVancouver, B.C., Can.4722325236868.4
27. E.J. WileyNampa, Idaho45612243358 67.8
28.Homer MoefieldLong Beach, Cal.4722325137467.1
29.Nelson VogelManito,Ill.4722321734263.4
30.Earl WinstonLaMonte, Mo.4811420732262.3
31. Arvil JenningsMurray, Utah4560520132462.0
32.Nels PetersonRochester, Minn.4340520634459.8
33.Hubert GalpinSalt Lake City, Utah4440520634459.8
34.Elmer BellerBellflower, Cal.4420517229658.1
35.Ervin HosierSouth Gate, Cal.4340518432257.1
36.Clive WahlinSalt Lake City, Utah4270515229052.4
Tournament was conducted by the elimination process which would account for the differences in total games pitched by each individual.