Annual pitching contest held at fairgrounds



Charlie Campbell had to go into overtime to defeat J.D. Bush to win Class A in the annual Jackson County Fair Pappy Goble Memorial horseshoe tournament Sunday afternoon at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.

Campbell defeated Bush 29-24 in the final match while Bill Seegers finished third in Class A.

Phil Nale said there were 20 contestants in the competition this year and they were divided into two classes, A and B, based on their ringer percentage.

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The 2019 tournament Nale’s third year serving as tournament director, and he said he was pleased with the turnout.

“The biggest thing is traditionally it’s an old sport, but its dying off," Nale said. "We’re trying to encourage young people to get out and do it. We had a couple first-timers this year. I like doing it for these guys because a lot of these guys have been doing it for 30 years. I don’t want to see them lose that. It’s always been a big part of the fair. I’m big on tradition.”

One of the contestants who has been enjoying the sport for a long time is Leroy Salmon.

“I’ve been at it 40-plus (years) probably,” Salmon said. “I love doing this."

Salmon is a regular at the pits at Gaiser Park in Seymour and also travels to Salem every week. He also goes to Pekin and Scottsburg for tournaments.

He has pitched both indoors and outdoors, and he said there is a difference.

“I try to concentrate on the peg when I get up there," Salmon said. "I like to look around. That’s what you don’t get indoors usually unless there is a crowd in there. I hate pitching on this grass. It’s pudgy and it throws me off. Indoors you don’t have to worry about the weather, the heat.”

He said the two world tournaments he pitched in in Ohio were indoors and the world tournament he competed outdoors was in South Dakota.

Salmon said he has competed in doubles where he has stayed at one end of the pits, and he has had home matches where the pitchers go back-and-forth like they do in singles.

“If you walk back-and forth you can use your own shoes," he said. "When you don’t walk back-and-forth you have to use the shoes of who is the best player.” All shoes are different. They have different weight. They average two pounds, eight ounces. I used to pitch them when I was pitching 40 foot. I got to where I couldn’t get them there, so I went down to a 2-6 (two pounds, six ounces). That two ounces makes a difference. You wouldn’t think it would but it does.

Salmon said his group pitches from April up until the Oktoberfest Tournament.

While Sunday’s tournament had high temperatures, it didn’t deter any of the regulars.

 “As hot as it is, these guys always enjoy themselves," Nale said. "It’s kind of a clannish bunch. They all know each other. They’ve thrown against each other for years. When you get a new person in, these guys take them under their wings and help them out because they don’t want to see the sport die either. It’s kind of like a church. If you just keep old members in it and don’t bring up the youth it’s going to die off."

Nale’s biggest goal is to help the tourney, and sport, grow.

“We got more prize money donated this year, we got more gifts so that made it a little more interesting," Nale said. "That’s my goal each year to make it a little more interesting with a little more prize money.”

Glenn Hollin defeated Jeremy Howard 28-9 to win Class B with Andre Pepper finishing third.

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