EXERCISEºRECREATIONºSPORT


SCIENCE AT THE STAKE

by Roy W. Smith published in 1946
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pletely revolutionized the game and caused it to sweep the country. The "open shoe" was discovered. The exact facts relating to this epochal discovery may never be determined to the complete satisfaction of everyone. Many leading authorities credit Doctor F. M. Robinson of Poughkeepsie, New York with the discovery. At St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1909, while he and some companions were playing on the courts near the Allison Hotel, one of the men noticed that the good doctor's shoes almost always landed with the opening toward the stake. This knowledge spread rapidly throughout the winter colony and all the pitchers began to experiment in an endeavor to improve the hold on their shoes. Other authorities attribute the discovery to George W. May of Akron, Ohio. Frank Eachus, a barber of Gallipolis, Ohio and champion of that state in 1917 or 1918, is a third individual to claim to be the originator of this innovation of pitching ringers.

   Be that as it may, one or all of these gentlemen demonstrated that a horseshoe could be thrown and controlled with far greater ease and accuracy, if it were held on the side or shank instead of with the customary forefinger around one of the heel caulks. At least, George May proved this in February, 1920, when he entered the national tournament and easily won the championship of the world. During this contest, he established a record that has never been equalled. He pitched more ringers-430-than there were points scored against him, winning 24 games without losing one.

   Another great improvement was a scientific method of scoring. The game was divided into innings of four pitches; two pitches for each player. This made tournament competition possible. These improvements in playing and scoring ushered in a new era for the game and pitching ringers became a real science. Many thousands of ardent enthusiasts of all ages and both sexes took up the art as a scientific and healthful pastime.

   The first organized club was formed at Long Beach, California, in the year 1900, with a membership of about 600 players from 25 states and Canada. The first tournament, in which competition was open to the world, was held in the summer of 1909, at Bronson, Kansas. Frank Jackson was the winner of this contest.

   The stakes were 2 inches high and the pitching distance was 38 1/2 feet. Two or three years later the stake height was raised to 6 inches. Ringers counted 5 points, leaners 3 points, and closest shoe, regardless of distance from the peg, counted 1 point. The top ringer received the count of all those under it, and a game consisted of 21 points. Because of the non-uniformity of rules,

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cont.