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1977 World Tournament
Greenville, Ohio - July 29 - Aug. 7, 1977

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:

1977 World Tournament

For the fifth time in two decades, the big event would be held in Greenville, Ohio. A controversy brewed all winter over what format should be used. The N.H.P.A. wanted group play and the host, Darke County Horseshoe Club, preferred a 36 man round robin. The N.H.P.A. felt group play would produce a more exciting finish, especially if television became involved. The D.C.H.C. felt the pitchers preferred more games and the opportunity to test each competitor.

If the World Tournament Director had the powers which were Dr. E. C. Beach's, there would have been no conflict! If the two main contenders were scheduled for game 34, Dr. Beach would have cancelled the entire round and substituted game 35 in its place. Then round 34 would become the final round which would then guarantee television, the spectators, and pitchers the most exciting finish possible.

The pitchers could be informed via the P.A. System to skip round 34 and proceed with round 35 at no inconvenience. Rarely in this age of pitching parity does the champion have it clinched with two games to go. The membership should give everyone a break by restoring this power to the Tournament Director. This way we can have our cake and eat it too. It is unfair to pitchers who are now closing in on many records of the past to have less opportunity to do so! This opinion, as all others, is solely the author's, who is under no pressure, censorship, or influence whatsoever in the writing of this book. I only seek to recall the past so we might learn to improve the sport we all dearly love.

As usual in Greenville, qualifying would be tough, under 500 points would not do for the championship class. Only five rookies would make it. Two veterans, Ken Drury and Frank Coursen, would get the chance to play the best. The other three were super youngsters. Ken Fraser, like his deceased father who appeared in 1953, would have a fine tournament. John Passmore as a Junior averaged 89 percent in 1975 and still finished fourth in that unbelievable group. Walter Ray, Jr., was most appropriately known as "Deadeye". Walter Ray's Junior Division feats could fill a book. How about back to back perfect games against two brothers in the California Junior State Championships? In 1975, Deadeye averaged 86 percent at the full 40 feet distance! Many of his followers thought he would win the World Title his first year. With the bleachers filled to capacity, Walter Ray set out to break Hohl's 1968 qualifying record. Deadeye had a ragged start, but still finished with 541 points.

This tournament was divided into two groups and so will be reported accordingly. After six games, the unbeaten leader in Group I was Steinfeldt. At 5-1 were Van Sant, Anthony, Seibold, and Williams. Karl's lone loss was to Solomon, 50-26. Anthony was surprised by Coursen, 51-32. Walter Ray was nipped by Anthony, 50-47 in the opening game. Drury ambushed Copeland; 52-45. Killgore pitched 25 ringers in his last 26 shoes in a 50-45 comeback win over Potts. Seibold hit 31 of 32 to gain control over Drury in a 51-32 win. Steinfeldt (93.1 percent) threw 35 of his final 36 on the peg, trouncing Copeland, 54-9. Maddox started with 34 of his first 36 to smash May, 51-16. Van Sant had 12 straight doubles and 43 ringers in 44 shoes once he got rolling and stormed through Schultz, 51-20. Deadeye had 18 straight doubles and 58 of his first 62 while pitching 90.8 percent, for a measure of redemption, pounding Kabel, 50-18. Killgore and Copeland had five straight four deads as Ansil prevailed, 50-38. Killgore finished with 36 of 38 to handle Lord, 54-35. Seibold put away Lord, 50-25, by drilling 28 of his last 30. Maddox hit 26 of 28, topping Drury, 54-30. Van Sant in a comeback effort hit 24 of 26 and only scored three points because Solomon (92.2 percent) finished with 44 of his last 46 in that game. Karl had an outburst, hitting 65 of 68, while trouncing Kabel, 52-23. Steinfeldt (91.5 percent) threw 54 of his final 56 while taking a stubborn Maddox, 50-25. Carl tossed 33 of his last 36 to subdue Kugler, 52-20. Van Sant (91.3 percent) hit 29 of his first 30 while drubbing Drury, 52-7. Maddox broke loose from Potts with 21 of 22, conquering Merlin, 50-16. Kabel stroked his first 22 to tame Seibold, 54-36. Williams (90.3 percent) fired 26 of 28 to humble Schultz, 51-4. Seibold had 40 of 42 to outfight May, 50-39. Solomon used a 29 of 30 spell to handle Potts, 5135.

In Group II, the unbeaten leaders were Henton and Hohl. At 5-1 were Knisley, Gonzales, and Zadroga. The day's shocker was Passmore upsetting Gonzales, 52-34. Group II had its share of hot streaks. Hohl hit 23 of his last 24, bouncing Craig, 50-16. Henton had nine double ringers, then 11 more, breezing through Norwood, 52-17. Griffin used a 30 of 32 spell to take Bellman, 51-37. Fraser also threw 30 of 32 to surprise Maison, 53-29. Craig had 12 straight doubles, but lost to Vandegriff, 51-32. Henton (90.3 percent) tossed 47 of his last 50, bombing Passmore, 55-8. Zadroga had two bursts against Griffin, 36 of 38 and 32 of 34, winning 50-20. Hohl and Knisley had eight consecutive four deads, but Elmer had 19 straight doubles to defeat Jim, 52-28. Bellman had 61 ringers after 66 shoes, but Gonzales had 19 of his first 20 and hit a later 39 of 40 streak to win, 50-45. Knisley had 25 of 26 while thumping Norwood, 50-8. Hohl had 10 consecutive doubles to negate Maison's 23 or 24 in a 51-38 victory. Passmore had 11 straight doubles, but Fahey had 14 straight, and 57 ringers in his last 60 shoes to win, 54-28. Henton (91.2 percent) kicked Griffin, 52-13. Red used a 27 of 28 streak to subdue Bellman, 52-32. Knauft needed 27 of 28 to handle young Fraser, 50-45. Gonzales used 27 of 28 to take Graham, 50-42. Knisley had 12 straight doubles to smash Fraser, 50-10. Hohl (90 percent) had 38 of his first 40 and later finished with 31 of 32 while smoking Martz, 51-14. Zadroga (92 percent) used 25 of 26 to crush Norwood, 50-9. Hohl used a 44 of 46 streak to top Griffin, 51-25. Bertrand had 21 of 22 to no avail as Knisley had 29 of 30 and later finished the game with 13 consecutive doubles to win, 50-33.

The first day was presented in the preceding manner for two reasons. First to show that it is the long ringer streaks and not the percentages which control most games. Second, the only known score sheets that exist all come from the time Donnie Roberts became N.H.P.A. Secretary.

The second day leader in Group I was Carl Steinfeldt at 11-4. A quintet was all tied for second with 8-4 records: Van Sant, Williams, Kabel, Solomon, and Seibold. Steinfeldt (92.8 percent) throttled Darnold, 51-6 and Anthony, 51-12 with 92.6 percent. Williams (90.3 percent) buried Drury, 51-5. Seibold fell three times. He was bested by Solomon, 50-25 and out duelled by Maddox, 52-48 in 140 shoes. Mark then witnessed Ken Kugler (87.9 percent) having his most memorable game. Ken had 12 consecutive doubles and 36 ringers in his first 38 shoes, and led by 30 points in an easy 51-18 triumph. Coursen upset May, 52-48; Solomon, 55-44; and Maddox, 51-42. Drury stung Copeland, 52-45. Darnold surprised Van Sant, 50-45. Copeland topped Potts, 51-40. Lord upset Copeland, 53-31; Williams, 50-21; and Maddox, 50-47. Maddox edged Van Sant 52-49. Kabel's only loss of the day was to Potts, 51-31. Killgore shocked Williams, 51-42. Anthony shaded Schultz, 51-49. Potts fell only to Copeland, 51-40. Williams (90.3 percent) blasted Drury, 51-5. Solomon whipped Seibold, 50-25 and Williams, 53-32. Jim lost to Coursen, 55-44 and Steinfeldt, 52-34. Seibold thumped Van Sant, 52-21. After only 12 games it appeared as if just Steinfeldt had a reasonable shot at the title out of Group I.

In Group II, the leader was Hohl, the only undefeated left in the tournament. Henton was 11-1. Knisley and Zadroga were 10-2. At 8-4 were Fahey, Gonzales, and Bellman. Graham, in game seven, won his first match, a 51-41 triumph over Maison. Doc smothered Norwood, 508. Craig upset Knauft, 50-38 and Martz, 53-33. Martz upset Gonzales, 53-35. Fahey ambushed Knauft, 52-37 and Griffin, 50-31. Fraser topped Fahey, 52-33. Vandegriff surprised Gonzales, 52-43. Bellman's lone loss of the day was to Hohl, 51-37, while pitching 84.1 percent to Elmer's 88.3 percent in this 120 shoe match. Knisley (91.8 percent) throttled Griffin, 51-5. Jim (90 percent) bested Gonzales (87.6 percent), 52-34 in 150 shoes in a tremendous duel. Jesse started the game with 26 straight ringers and 53 of the first 56 for an 18-7 lead. Jesse later hit 12 straight doubles for three points! Jim used a 69 of 72 string to take a 31-25 lead after 112 shoes! At the 100 shoe mark, Jesse had 92 ringers and Jim had 90! They had eight consecutive four deads and a later string of 11 straight. Jim hit 102 of his last 110! In the Hohl-Bellman match, Elmer had a 45 of 48 spell to take command and Clarence hit 21 of his last 22 while going down. Knisley earlier hooked up with Henton for 150 shoes and lost, 51-41. In two straight games, Jim found himself in marathons. Bellman had 17 consecutive doubles while beating Knauft, 51-32. Zadroga (94.1 percent) started with 16 straight doubles and later hit 19 more consecutive doubles while punishing Graham, 50-9. "Big AI" finished his match against Henton with 18 straight doubles, winning 51-31, to tumble Henton from the unbeaten ranks, Hohl (91.3 percent) stomped Passmore, 51-12.

In Group I after 17 games, the leader was defending World Champion Steinfeldt at 16-1. With an outside chance was Seibold at 13-4. Coursen upset Van Sant, 55-41. Drury ended a nine game losing streak by edging Lord, 54-49 in 128 shoes. May stopped a 12 game losing streak by taking Drury, 52-30. Darnold upset Maddox, 52-47. Schultz shaded May, 52-49 in 120 shoes. Copeland put away Schultz, 51-23. Kugler just missed the finals by losing his last two games: 50-42 to Solomon and 51-49 to Maddox where Ken blew a 49-37 lead. Lord lost, 52-46, to Solomon in 126 shoes. Killgore won his last four to make the finals. Anthony, with a 50-49 victory over Maddox, clinched his spot in the finals. Potts had a five game winning streak stopped by Steinfeldt, 51-13. Williams earned his spot in the finals by thumping Van Sant, 52-11. Solomon lost to May, 50-39. Seibold hammered Williams, 52-12 and annihilated Darnold, 55-3 with 96.1 percent! Steinfeldt edged Williams, 51-44. The records of those besides Steinfeldt and Seibold who made the finals were: Solomon, 12-5; Kabel and Potts, 11-6; Killgore, Anthony and Williams, 10-7; and Van Sant, 9-8.

After 17 games in Group II, Henton and Hohl were tied at 16-1. Graham lost his last 10. Passmore ended a six game losing streak by beating Craig, 50-44. Norwood halted a 10 game losing streak by upsetting Knauft, 52-40. Maison pounded Vandegriff, 51-8, but was later trimmed by Griffin, 51-47 in 126 shoes. In a belated rush, Bertrand won six of his last seven games, but fell short by virtue of ringer percentage. Martz lost his last match to Bertrand, 52-32 and thus did not make the finals. Fahey lost four of his last five, but made the finals by virtue of ringer percentage. Fraser smashed Vandegriff, 52-14, his last game to make the finals. Griffin, to make it, sneaked by Knauft, 50-46, his last match. Bellman (93 percent) cracked Fraser, 51-11. Knisley lost only to Zadroga, 50-35. Zadroga topped Bellman, 51-31 in 120 shoes. Big Al (90 percent) thumped Craig, 53-12. This was the 17th time in Marvin's career that an opponent had pitched over 90 percent. This is second only to the all time leader, Dale Dixon, to whom this happened 18 times! Henton (94.8 percent) trounced Gonzales, 52-6. Hohl (90.2 percent) bounced Gonzales, 55-19. In the day's feature match, Henton nosed Hohl, 52-49. With the score 49-49, Elmer missed both shoes and Glen managed to pitch one ringer and win. In addition to Henton and Hohl, the other Group II survivors were: Zadroga, 15-2; Knisley, 14-3; Gonzales, 11-6; Bellman, 10-6; Fahey, Fraser and Griffin, 9-8.

In the finals, after 23 games, the leaders were Henton and Steinfeldt, each 21-2. Next at 20-3 were Zadroga and Hohl. Knisley was 19-4. Seibold, 18-5, was now eliminated. Fraser fell to Williams, 50-36 in 138 shoes. Griffin defeated Van Sant, 51-40 in 136 shoes; Seibold, 5038 in 120 shoes; and Kabel, 50-45 in 128 shoes. Killgore upset Zadroga, 51-40 in 122 shoes with 85.2 percent. Anthony upset Gonzales, 50-32 and Henton, 52-34. Gonzales fell to Williams, 51-41 in 120 shoes. Bellman (90.3 percent) ripped Van Sant, 50-17. Potts tripped Knisley, 5234. Merlin pushed Hohl to 122 shoes before bowing, 50-33. Knisley (90.6 percent) smashed Anthony, 52-13 and later stomped Van Sant, 52-18 with 90.2 percent. Jim upset Steinfeldt, 50-45 in 128 shoes.

The final three games would conclude the tournament. In game 24,Zadroga walloped Steinfeldt, 50-22, giving Henton a one game lead over the trio of Steinfeldt, Zadroga, and Hohl. In game 25, Gonzales edged Kabel, 51-49 in 138 shoes. Kabel would lose his last 10 games, exceeded only by Van Sant who lost his final 12. Potts nipped Bellman, 50-45 in 122 shoes. Williams (90.2 percent) jolted Griffin, 52-24. Knisley was wrecked by Solomon, 52-24. Zadroga was eliminated by Seibold, 52-36. Henton eliminated Steinfeldt, 50-49 in a pressure packed 152 shoe game. Henton led Hohl by one game with only one to go. In game 26, Deadeye Williams hooked up with Bellman for the tournament's longest match. Prior to this game, Walter Ray's best performance was the remarkable comeback he made on Elmer Hohl the day before in a 54-39 conquest. Bellman, after 24 shoes led Deadeye, 15-3. Walter then pitched 18 consecutive doubles, the last six cancelled, to now lead Clarence, 24-15. Walter led 48-29 after 110 shoes. Clarence then tossed 14 straight doubles, the last seven cancelled, to climb to 41 points. Deadeye went to 49 on the next pitch. Bellman then fired 11 consecutive doubles to cut the lead to 49-44. Clarence then missed and Walter Ray, who had cancelled the last eight of Bellman's string, tossed his ninth in a row to win 55-44. This match went 164 shoes. Seibold, spoiler supreme, pitched 86.2 percent, his 10th straight game over 80 percent, to knock off Henton, 52-35. Seibold won 14 of his last 15 to climb to fifth place. Zadroga moved into third place by squeaking by Solomon, 51-48. Hohl used a 35 of 36 streak to break open a close game with Steinfeldt, winning 51-27. The victory lifted Elmer to a tie with Henton. The loss dropped Steinfeldt to fourth place.

Once again the '70's would have a playoff, the decade's fourth! Elmer won the title in 1972 and 1973 in playoff victories and would be the favorite to do so again. Henton had beaten Elmer the last three times they met, so his chances were good. Lefties had already nailed down third, fourth, and fifth place, so maybe this would be a southpaw year.

In game one, Henton led 16-4 after 22 shoes, and 22-14 after 42 shoes. Hohl then pitched 14 consecutive doubles to take command at 35-22. Elmer went on to win, 50-35 in 104 shoes. The second game was a dandy. After 24 shoes, Elmer led 15-5. After 40 shoes, Glen led 21-15. At 44 shoes, Elmer led 24-21. The score was tied, 24 all, at 52 shoes, but at the end of 58 shoes Elmer led again, 30-24. It was tied again, 30 all, after 64 shoes. Elmer moved to 36-30, but Glen came back to take a 37-36 lead after 84 shoes. Hohl regained the lead 45-37, after 92 shoes, only to have the score tied once more, 48-all, after 112 shoes. Henton, pitching first, threw but one ringer. Hohl topped it with a double to win, 51-48. Glen was very gracious in defeat. So far in World Tournament history, Glen is the only man to appear in a 2-or-3-man playoff and not the win the World Title as yet. It has taken all other playoff losers an average of seven years to win theirs, so take heart of this fact Red Henton.

Elmer Hohl had won his third playoff, his fourth World Title of the '70's and his sixth overall. Only Ted Allen, Fernando Isais, and Frank Jackson have won more. This was Elmer's 18th consecutive year to average over 80 percent, a world record. This was Elmer's 18th consecutive finish in the top five. Only Allen with 19 and Jackson with 21 are ahead of Elmer in this category. Elmer, in his first game of 1977, moved into second place on the all time Victory list. Elmer, who ranks No .1 in lifetime ringer percentage, will probably never surpass Allen in victories because of his advancing years. Yet Elmer will be the standard by which today's youngsters will try to measure their own careers.


1977 World Tournament Greenville, Ohio - July 29 - Aug. 7, 1977
QualW.L.R.Sp.Pet.
Group 1
1. Elmer Hohl Wellesley, Ont., Can. 550 23 3 1980 2326 85.1
2. Glen Henton Maquoketa, Iowa 541 23 3 1918 2302 83.3
3. Al Zadroga Elizabeth, Pa. 519 22 4 1879 2264 83.0
4. Carl Steinfeldt Rochester, N.Y. D.C. 21 5 1912 2284 83.7
5. Mark Seibold Huntington, Ind. 524 21 5 1955 2360 82.8
6. Jim Knisley Bremen, Ohio 540 20 6 1993 2378 83.8
7. Jim Solomon Uniontown, Pa. 536 17 9 1892 2380 79.5
8. Walter Williams Auburn, Cal. 541 16 10 1767 2190 80.7
9. Merlin Potts Leonardville, Kansas 546 15 12 1771 2304 76.9
10. Clarence Bellman Bremen, Ind. 540 14 12 2063 2556 80.7
11. Jesse Gonzales San Luis Obispo, Cal. 541 14 12 1995 2542 78.5
12. Harold Anthony Arcanum, Ohio 524 14 12 1710 2254 75.9
13. Charles Killgore Plattsburgh, Mo. 536 13 13 1852 2392 77.4
14. Larry Griffin Newport, Ind. 533 13 13 1872 2430 77.0
15. Ken Frazer San Francisco, Cal. 515 13 13 1705 2226 76.6
16. Jack Fahey Lexington, Ky. 554 12 14 1679 2214 75.8
17. Wilbur Kabel New Madison, Ohio 540 11 15 1970 2504 78.7
18. Karl Van Sant Cayuga, Ind. 544 9 17 1626 2088 77.9
Group 2
19. Ralph Maddox Poca, West Virginia 510 13 10 1593 2036 78.2
20. Al Lord Mechanic Falls, Maine 517 13 10 1531 2012 76.1
21. Ken Kugler Hamilton, Ohio 512 12 11 1444 1938 74.5
22. Clyde Martz Bridgeville, Pa. 511 11 12 1518 1986 76.4
23. Ansil Copeland Akron, Ohio 501 11 12 1388 1860 76.4
24. Joe Schultz Brentwood, N.Y. 509 11 12 1381 1878 73.5
25. Harold Darnold Burlington, Iowa 518 10 13 1480 2004 73.9
26. Sonny Bertrand Moundsville, W. Va. 511 10 13 1357 1850 73.4
27. Henry Knauft Spokane, Wash. 525 10 13 1359 1890 71.9
28. Marvin Craig Parker City, Ind. 522 8 15 1332 1840 72.4
29. Bill Vandegriff Fairfield, Iowa 514 8 15 1196 1759 68.0
30. Gerald Maison Warren, Mich. 505 7 16 987 1384 71.3
31. Bob May Glenwood, Ind. 504 5 18 1347 1910 70.5
32. Ken Drury Sarnia, Ont., Can. 514 5 18 1154 1696 68.0
33. Roger Norwood Knoxville, Tenn. 502 5 18 1149 1714 67.0
34. Frank Coursen Bellville, Ohio 503 5 18 1109 1658 66.9
35. John Passmore Richmond, Ind. 505 4 19 1146 1684 68.1
36. Bob Graham Houston, Texas 502 2 21 1243 1802 69.0
Elmer Hohl and Glen Henton tied for the World Championship. In the best two -out-of three game playoff, Hohl won the first two games.
Playoff Summary
W.L.R.Sp.Pet.
Hohl2018121883.03
Henton0217421879.82
First Game
PtsR.Sp.Pet.
HohlPts5010483.7
HentonPts3510479.8
Second Game
PtsR.Sp.Pet.
Hohl519411482.5
Henton489111479.8