Diekamp hopes this is the year they win Team World
Rose Diekamp holds court in a sport she briefly struggled to master.
While she rarely has any problems these days, she will have her own cheerleader/coach this weekend at the 29th annual Team World Horseshoes Tournament. A flareup of a sciatic problem put her husband, Bob, on the sidelines at Beloit’s Telfer Sports and Activity Center.
“It’s better now; I could have pitched,” Bob said with a degree of disgust Friday morning. “I’m just going to be watching now.”
Bob and Rose are from O’Fallon, Mo., and are members of the Quail Ridge Horseshoe Club and National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, which has its Hall of Fame and Museum at Quail Ridge Park.
Their club maintains the museum in a 21,000-square foot facility. Opening in 2007, the museum preserves more than 40 years’ worth of national horseshoe memorabilia and honors more than 150 individuals in its Hall.
The facility also has 16 indoor and 16 outdoor courts open to the public and used for league play and tournaments.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” says Rose, a longtime volunteer who helps with the day-to-day operation of the club and museum. “We just had our big tournament with some of the best pitchers around. People say it’s compatible to the World Tournament.”
The Quail Ridge Horseshoe Club has about 330 members and Rose is among the most accomplished.
When they talk about golfers shooting their age its significant. It’s a pretty fair accomplishment for Rose, too, since she averages hers. She’s 71 and she throws ringers 71.91 percent of the time.
“There’s quite a few pitchers in that category in this tournament,” she said.
With Rose and Ed Pashia (75.93) in the lineup, Missouri No. 1 probably has as good a chance as any of winning the 20-team tourney.
“It’s really a fun tournament,” Bob says. “But there are probably only six teams that really could win this and the rest are kidding themselves.”
“It’s just a bit cold this year,” Rose said. “But we’ve been here before when you had to wear long underwear when you pitched.”
Rose has come a long way since her first year of league play in 1991 when she had a 9.72 ringer percent. In her first tournament in New Melle, Mo., she took second place with a 7-1 record and 25 percent average. Her ringer percent steadily climbed and within 10 years she had won three Missouri state championships. By 2001 she was ranked No. 1 in Missouri’s women’s division with a ringer average of 71.78. In 1996, she pitched a high game of 91.1 percent (32 ringers out of 34 shoes) and in 1997 she had a high game of 94.4 (34 ringers out of 36).
Bob, an accomplished pitcher in his own right, takes some of the credit for her success. They’ve been married since 1994 and he has served as her coach.
“Horseshoes came easy for me, but not for Rose,” Bob said. “She had to work hard at it. Maybe that is why she can concentrate so hard in tournaments. Anyone who has pitched against her knows what I mean.”
Born in rural Missouri in 1934, Bob starred in basketball, baseball and particularly fast-pitch softball. He pitched until he was 56, competing in many state tournaments and recording many no-hitters and a pair of perfect games. He averaged over 200 in bowling, was an MVP on the dartball circuit, a county ping pong champ and had a hole-in-one on a golf course in 1983.
Bob had pitched horseshoes since he was a kid, but didn’t try league play until he was 43 years old. Like nearly everything else he tried, he was a natural, earning a number of high places in state tournaments and firsts in local events.
While Bob and Rose started pitching in the World Team Tournament in Beloit in 1995 the “fun” tournament hasn’t always been that for the duo.
Before the tournament in 1999, Rose tripped outside her hotel and fell, ironically on a handicap ramp, and injured her wrist and ribs. A cast went on her broken wrist, but a teammate used a hacksaw to saw part of it off so she could still clutch her horseshoe and compete. She did, the first day, but developed a pain in her side. She learned she had also fractured ribs in her fall and that put her out of commission for day two.
The next year, Bob fell victim to what started to look like a Beloit curse. After pitching the first day, he had to be rushed to the emergency room where doctors discovered a hernia that had to be operated on the next day.
“We had to spend a couple of extra days in the area before we could drive home,” Rose said.
Since then, they’ve actually had the chance to enjoy themselves.
“Most of the time, we’ve made the finals,” Rose said. “We haven’t won, but maybe this year.”
• NOTES: The tournament, hosted by the Beloit Horseshoe Club, continues Saturday and wind up Sunday. Finals on Sunday will begin at 12:10 p.m. ...Team Wisconsin No. 1 is the defending champion. ...A Missouri team hasn’t won the title since 1991, but after the first day they are at the top of the leaderboard with a 61.77 team ringer percent and a .750 winning percent.