As June peeks its gloomy head around the clouds and begins the blistering pace towards the August finale, I wanted to discuss a sport that is severely lacking national attention.
Or any attention for that matter.
Throwing horseshoes, or "pitching" to those privy to the appropriate lexicon, has been a Waterhouse extravaganza dating back to the days of pretending that El Cajon was a viable real estate choice.
My Dad and uncles would gather most of their truck-driving brethren and do their best to not crush knees, smash shins, or crank ankles of those involved in the backyard shenanigans. This was a big event around the neighborhood, and nary a chucker of bended steel missed one of these events.
Though Coors Original did not help the festivities, I'm sure that the participating athletes in the East County Horseshoe Olympics felt that those golden circles of hopped delight were indeed a performance-enhancing substance.
Children were strictly forbidden to play horseshoes and yet played a role in every tournament. We were usually relegated to gofers and neophyte bartenders yet we eagerly grabbed those mangled steel shoes at any given chance always wondering what type of mammoth horse these shoes actually fit.
A quick note to purists: my brother Chris throws left-handed and pitches his horseshoes overhand. Is he the devil? I wanted to run it by my fellow pitchers. He is, isn't he? I knew it.
Over the years, my love for the game never wavered but finding appropriate venues and viable opponents seemed to cleave away my time in the pits. I'd get a beach game here, or the occasional family tournament there, but they never really reached within and grabbed a hold of me like it had in my youth.
This lull lasted until a breezy conversation with my fellow co-worker Kenny Buckner. Though his last name brings dread among Red Sox faithful, he's excellent behind the bar and a person I've found has a keen respect for the fine art of the ringer.
KB and I thought it appropriate to test each other's clanging skills at Glen Park on a blindingly bright day where the sun sears your eyelids shut when you don't bring sunglasses or a low brimmed hat. Which I did.
Though I was victorious that day (YES!), I felt a certain camaraderie and kinship with my fellow employee. We chatted as we finished our requisite innings and concocted a plan to continue practicing until we elevated our game with a very specific goal in mind.
We were going to barnstorm the NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitching Association) and make our way to fame and glory as the oh-so-inventively nicknamed "Dead Ringers". Don't worry, the t-shirts will be available for sale on our website. When we get a website.
So the next time you hear the clang of metal on metal or a flurry of foul language by men trying not to curse in a public park, take heed: We've thrown the gauntlet. You know where to find us and we're taking on all challengers.
Dead Ringers...coming to a pit near you.