1990 World Horseshoe Tournament Gets Under Way
STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) _ He may not be the first president who hankers for a ringer, but organizers of the 1990 World Horseshoe Tournament credit George Bush with boosting the popularity of the ancient pastime.
″His playing has boosted us tremendously,″ said Bob Champion, a spokesman for the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. ″It’s similar to golf, when (Dwight) Eisenhower was into it. And John F. Kennedy? Wasn’t he into football?″
Bush is a member of the 16,000-member pitchers group and is invited to all the tournaments, conventions and meetings, Champion said.
″But, as you know, he is busy,″ he said. ″One day, I think he’ll surprise us out here and all hell will break loose.″
More than 1,000 horseshoe contestants are in this Atlanta suburb for the annual, two-week tournament, which opened Monday at Stone Mountain Park. They came from across the United States and Canada, from as far away as Australia, either for the sheer thrill of victory or for a piece of the $95,000 in prizes.
″Most people think that horseshoes is something that farmers do out behind the barn, or maybe in the backyard,″ competitor Noel Guy said.
″Very few people know how very well organized the sport is ... because we don’t get much exposure,″ said Guy, a retired electronics technician from San Jose, Calif. ″We don’t make it on TV like bowling or golf.″
Bush’s attachment to the sport ″did a big shot in the arm″ for horseshoe pitching, but he’s not the first man to practice the game at the White House, Guy said.
″Harry Truman pitched horseshoes,″ he said. ″I didn’t know that either, until just about a year ago. Horseshoes was not that far developed at that time. Now, President Bush is getting all the attention.″
Horseshoe pitching originated with soldiers in ancient Greece who used discarded horseshoes for sport, imitating discus throwing at the Olympian Games. More than 30 million people now pitch horseshoes in tournaments or in city parks and backyards, the organization says.
A ringer, when the points of a horseshoe encircle a steel stake in a clay or sand pit, counts as 3 points. One point is awarded when a horseshoe lands within 6 inches of the stake.
Two people compete in a game by throwing two horseshoes to the opposite end of the court. They tally points before repeating throws to the opposite pit. The first to get 40 points is the winner.