Pickleball is Popular but Horseshoes are Historic in Erie
Pickleball is being called one of the country's fastest growing sports. In fact, six pickleball courts may soon be installed at Erie's Griswold Park. Decades ago, it was a different kind of court that was drawing people to a different city park. Horseshoes was the game a lot of people played in Erie. But, how popular is that sport today?
If you drive by the municipal horseshoe courts in Glenwood Park, on most days, no one will be there. However, if you drive by on a Wednesday night, you will see the courts come alive. The Erie Horseshoe Club holds matches there during the summer.
Last Wednesday’s crowd was nice but it was nothing compared to the number of participants in the 1960s, 1970s, and earlier.
Norm Krumpe remembers.
"There was a waiting list. There was a waiting list for people to get into the league because we couldn't handle them all. Yeah, I had to wait my turn,” he said.
The Erie Horseshoe Club is celebrating its 100th year. Today it has 120 members. It's believed the courts at Glenwood Park go back as early as the 1920s. Road construction caused them to be moved to their current location at the park in 1985. The courts are named after the Kuchcinski family, royalty among Erie horseshoe pitchers. Rich Kuchcinski remembers the year when his cousin Dan won the world championship at Glenwood Park.
"Back in 1969 we had the World Horseshoe Tournament here. It was so crowded people were standing in the trees to see the tournament,” he said.
Ron Kuchcinski is Dan’s brother and a two-time state champion.
"We still get a few good pitchers around here. Not like the 60s and 70s though,” he said.
"Back in the 70s we had several people when we held a tournament that averaged 86% ringers, 87%, 90% We don't have those kind of pitchers anymore,” says Harvey Hayes, President of the Erie Horseshoe Club.
It's a wonderful game. Matches are handicapped so less talented players still have a good chance to win. Men and women, young and old can participate and have fun. But, it's the younger crowd that no longer shows up at the horseshoe courts. Erie may never see its next world champion.
"Youngsters. They are more inclined to want to play with their devices, electronic devices than they are to get outside and throw a horseshoe,” says Krumpe.
The Erie Horseshoe Club will host the state championships at Glenwood Park over Labor Day weekend.