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Horseshoe Pitching

From Backyard Game to International Competition - In Beloit

By, Earl Paulson

Horseshoe pitching has long been a popular sport in Beloit. According to the late Beloit Daily News Historian Lawrence Raymer, "There was a time when there were courts all over the city, and almost every family played horseshoes in their backyard." Several local industries has horseshoe courts built on their premises to provide recreation for their workers. Fairbanks Morse, Beloit Corporation, Besly Welles and Warner Brake held horseshoe tournaments at their annual picnics.

In 1955 at the Wisconsin State Tournament held at the State Fairgrounds in West Allis, Earl Ramquist won the Wisconsin State Championship. Earl is the only Beloiter to have held the State title. Ben Brostuen won the State Class C title in 1969 and the Class B title in 1975. At the state tournament at Eau Claire, Wi in 1990 Earl Ramquist was inducted into the Wisconsin State Horseshoe Pitcher's Hall of Fame.

In the early 1960's Ben Brostuen built a regulation clay court in his back yard. He invited some of the better players from out of town to provide competition. They came from Milwaukee, Lake Geneva, Freeport and other surrounding areas to compete with some of the better players in Beloit.

In the late 1950's Earl Ramquist, Al Walmsley, Ben Brostuen and others built 8 clay courts with cement walkways at the Vernon Avenue Playgrounds. These courts were used until the mid 1960's when due to vandalism and lack of maintenance it was felt a private home would be a better place and would result in better maintenance of the courts.

About 1967 Don Goldsmith and his father built 4 regulation clay courts on their land just off Shirland Avenue on Fisher Road in South Beloit. These courts were built in a nice shady area and were used every tuesday evening and saturday afternoon until the mid 1980's. There were no organized leagues but each fall an annual doubles tournament was held with pitchers coming from Janesville, Milton , Edgerton, Rockford, Freeport and the surronding areas. Some of the local competitors were, Earl Ramquist, Ben Brostuen, Art Larson, Claire Everson, Charlie Goldsmith, Jack Ramsey, Bob Geeser, Don Goldsmith, Ivan Borkenhagen, Bob Kamppi, Doug Goldsmith, Al Knutson, Pete Thorson, Alden Brostuen, Rueben Brostuen, and Al Walmsley.