THE ORIGINS OF
THE NATIONAL HORSESHOE PITCHING ASSOCIATION
In Virginia

BY        Marvin May








      It all began in the summer of 1957. Marvin started to attend pitching contests on Riverside Drive at Billy McCloud's house. During this time, Jack Tanner informed the group that the City Recreations Department was going to hold the first AAU State Tournament in Lynchburg in 1958. This was when Marvin's interest in horseshoe pitching commenced.

      The next year, 1958 the first AAU State Tournament sponsored by the City Recreations Department was held at E.C. Glass High School. Marvin participated in this tournament, but did not qualify as a finalist.

       As a result of this defeat. Marvin practiced all winter long for the second annual AAU in 1959. His preparation all winter paid off, and he finished in 4th or 5th place. After this accomplishment, he bought some Gordon horseshoes and encountered a pamphlet in the package. This pamphlet contained the rules, regulations, and the name of the national secretary of the National Horseshoe Pitching Assoc. Bob Pence. Marvin the proceeded to contact Mr. Pence by mail and telephone. Bob Pence then appointed Marvin the Virginia Secretary of the NHPA.

       In the fall of 1959, some pitchers decided to join together in Lynchburg for a tri- county tournament. Marvin won all games and became the city champion. In the late fall of 1959, Marvin called a group of pitchers together for a meeting at the City Recreation Dept. in Lynchburg and formed the charter of the Virginia Horseshoe Pitching Association, an affiliation of the NHPA. The elections at this meeting produced Billy McCloud as President, Robert Toney as Vice- President, and Marvin May as Secretary and Treasurer. The charter members were Lynn Dove, George Sanderson, Bill Davis, Fred
Childress, and Charles Moody, all of Lynchburg, Scott May of Forest, and Warren Flaherty of Richmond.

       Soon after, the next meeting was held at the Fire Department in Lynchburg, where Royal Williams, captain of the Fire Department, O.D.Burnette, Tommy Ballowe, and others became members.

       In 1960, the second city and tri- county tournament was held, and Marvin won for the second year. At the annual AAU State Tournament that year, Marvin was runner up as Mr. Owen of Danville took home first place.

       In 1961, the courts were moved to Miller Park, and at this time a total of 8 courts were present.

       In 1962, the first NHPA open tournament was held and attendance was much greater than expected. Bob Pence, National Secretary of the NHPA from Indiana, Randall Jones Regional Director from North Carolina, and the NHPA Secretary from Tennessee were all present. The workers at this particular tournament were Fred Childress, Myrtle Patterson of the Lynchburg Recreation Dept, Marvin, and all other charter members. The wives of the pitchers served a chicken dinner before the tournament to all pitchers.

       In 1963, even a greater attendance occurred at the tournament, with former 1961 world Champion Harold Reno present, along with Stan Manker, Harold Wolfe, Dale Carson, Gene Durham, Al Zadroga, Ralph Maddox, John Fulton, and pitchers from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

       In response to the growing enthusiasm for horseshoe pitching, in the late 60's the city constructed the present twelve lighted, fenced-in courts.

       In 1965, Less Singhass of  Winchester, Virginia, Frank Cooper, and two others visited Lynchburg one Sunday afternoon. They discussed tournaments, the NHPA, and general information about horseshoe pitching with the Lynchburg members.

       Two years later, in 1967, the Raymond Frye Memorial Open Tournament was born.

       From the mid 1960's - 1970's, tournaments sprang up in Richmonnd, Waynesboro, Buena Vista, Churchville, Deerfield, and spread throughout Virginia.

       Marvin was the Virginia Secretary from 1959 to 1970, and became Regional Director for five years thereafter.



Marvin still practices. When Marvin built his house in 1960, he had the foresite to build an indoor court in his basement. Many pitchers have enjoyed the benefit of hours of fun and companionship with him.
 

Marvin is still very active in the state today.  With Raymond Dehl by his side, Marvin attends practically every tournamnet in the state. Their friendship is one which has endured many years. Mavin has received an award "for pitching 10 or more tournaments" (in a year) numerous times.
 
 

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