Shoe Biz Profile - February 2000


Originally Written by Jeanette Claas

Stanton Louis Griggs was the youngest child born to Jerry and Joan Griggs of St. Joseph on Nov. 2, 1963. Stan has two older brothers, Scott and Stacy and a sister, Tammy. His boyhood youth was spent playing lots of baseball, bowling and many years in the boy scouts.

It was Father's Day, the summer of 1975, when the Griggs' neighbor, Doyle Brant, received a set of horseshoes for Father's Day. That Father's Day "gift" was to set Stan on a lifetime course of competition he didn't know existed. Stan was 11 years old. The two families began pitching together and found they enjoyed the fun and challenge of the sport. In the spring of 1976 they heard of a horseshoe league in St. Joe called the Pony Express Horseshoe Club. Enjoying the league play, they began thinking about attending their very first State Tournament in Sedalia. The entire group, Doyle and his son Britt, Jerry and his two sons, Stan and Stacy, loaded up the big silver bus and headed for Sedalia, camping at the midway area. The three juniors, walking onto the fairgrounds, had visions of "terror" in their heads. The three of them competing against each other in the same class battled it out. At the end of the round robin, they were in a three-way tie for first place. After the play-off Stan finished in third place. His neighbor and friend, Britt Brant won the championship.

Back at the State Tournament in 1977, Stan again finished in 3rd place with brother Stacy winning the MO Junior State Title. As a young boy, Stan's goal was to be as good as Britt and Stacy and then possibly beating them. With his determination and get better, Stan got his first coaching lessons from Lillard Pinion and Ray Cavin in the spring of 1978. They switched him from a flip shoe to a 1 1/4 turn. Stan was hitting in the mid 50% range at this point with his new shoe style. The World Tournament was held in Des Moines, Iowa and gaining more confidence in his pitching, off they went to see what the World T. was all about. To qualify, the juniors had to throw 100 shoes. having a hot streak going, Stan hit 73 ringers out of 100 shoes, for a 73%, thus qualifying him to enter the Junior Championship Class! The competition was tough meeting up against pitchers such as Brian Simmons, Steve Hohl and Jonathan Williams. Stan finished in 12th place, winning one game, averaging 55%. Little did he realize that 21 years later, he would still be competing against the same fellows he pitched against in that WT.

Gaining experience from the WT, Stan felt he was ready now for the 1978 State Tournament to be held on his home territory of St. Joe. Stan won all five games, averaging 61.1%, winning his first Junior's State Title at the age of 14 and H-e-l-l-o Missouri!

Stan pitched in 9 tournaments in 1979 with a record of 46-2 having a high tournament average of 71.5%. Stan was back on the St. Joseph Courts for the 1979 State Tournament to defend his title, successfully doing so with a 7-0 record, averaging 65.4%. Something very important occurred on those courts over 20 years ago. Alan Francis, 9 years old, made his first state tournament appearance beginning a friendship and a competitive nature that developed between the two young boys which was to last many years.

1980 was Stan's last appearance in the junior ranks; his pitching was not quite as strong as the last year due to experimenting with the 40 foot line. Stan and Alan met up once again. After 82 shoes, Stan was not able to hold off Alan, losing his title to Alan with the score of 47-52.

The year 1981 was a new beginning for Stan, now in the Men's Division, making the transition to 40 feet. His first tournament proved to be difficult for him, pitching 31% and winning one game. At the 1981 State Tournament, Stan was seeded in Men's Class B, winning first place with a 6-1 record, averaging 62.0%. Stan graduated from Central High School in the spring of 1982. Horseshoe pitching was not his top priority in the summer of 1982. He was to enter college that fall, but after the first semester of college, Stan changed his course and enlisted into the U.S. Navy and headed to boot camp in Orlando, FL in March of 1983.

Now a full pledge sailor, Stan was shipped to Norfolk, VA for two years of shore duty. Stan took a 4-day leave and flew back to MO to pitch in the 1983 State Tournament held in Springfield and qualified for the Men's Championship Class. Knowing he was not properly prepared for this tournament he was determined to have fun pitching against the "best" in MO, winning 2 games, averaging 53.3% finishing 11th place and scoring 6 points against the state champion of that tournament, Mr. Sam Carter. Stan would meet up with Sam many times in the years to come.

Back in VA, Stan was to pitch several tournaments in the area including in the 1984 Virginia State Tournament. Horseshoe pitching was Stan's first love as he was growing into a young man, but while in VA he got back involved with his "second" love; acting, singing and dancing which he was active in during his high school days. He performed four nights a week at the Tidewater Dinner Theater in Chesapeake, VA making some extra money.

On leave in the summer of 1985, Stan participated in several tournaments in St. Joe and Atchison, KS. Horseshoes were now put on hold as he was transferred to San Diego, CA to serve a two year stint on the USS Chandler, a guided missile destroyer. Stan like all sailors, holds warm memories in his head of the sites he saw while aboard this ship crossing the equator and sailing across the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Stan was honorably discharged in 1987 and arrived back home in St. Joseph. It had been five years and he was ready to get back into horseshoe pitching once again. He traveled to the 1987 WT, held in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He was very disappointed, losing 11 games and averaging only 42.5%. he almost walked away from the game for good. At this time the current MO State President, Wayne Henderson talked to Stan about doing the "stat" work for the state of MO. After accepting this challenge it deepened his interest in horseshoes and Stan was now determined to work his way back into the game. Entering 18 tournaments in 1988, Stan found his way back, averaging over 60% in ten of the tournaments. Each year he got a little better and more consistent. His mentor and coach in the men's division was as important to him now as Lillard Pinion and Ray Cavin was as a junior. The one fellow that was always there to help him out, and taught him what it was to be a top class pitcher on and off the courts was Elwyn Cooper. The knowledge and skill that "Coop" developed in Stan stays with him today. "He is as responsible as anyone for getting me where I am today and I owe him greatly."

The ninety's arrived and Stan began the decade off by marrying Stephanie Finley of Bonner Springs, Kansas. Stephanie is very supportive of Stan and allows him to spend endless hours on various projects. Marriage agreed with him and even his horseshoe pitching began improving. In 1991 Stan, along with Vicki Winston, Sam Carter and Ken Pogue won the Team World Championship in Beloit, Wisconsin, pitching an average of 72.3% for the tournament. That was the first real "AWE" feeling of how special this game really is. The summer of 91' held much excitement for Stan as he kept on improving and winning. He recalls the Liberty Tournament where he beat Alan Francis 40-10 with a 86.4%, and then lost to Vicki Winston, putting all three of them in a tie for first. A ladder pitch off was set up with Stan beating Alan again pitching 82.5%, then loosing to Vicki again by a score of 10-16 throwing 80%. Beating Alan twice in one afternoon was a "high" that stuck with him for along time. To cap off the year, Stan made the Men's Championship Class at the WT for the first time in Biloxi, MS, finishing 10th with a 73.5% beating the defending world champion, Jim Knisley, Cliff Baker and Ron Powell. His most memorable game of the event was against Kevin Cone. Kevin won 41-32 but Stan had 81 ringers out of 98 shoes for a 82.7%. The boy from St. Joe had done his homework well.

The flood of 93' almost destroyed the site of Stan's employment and then he was to experience a tragedy that every parent fears. Stan and Stephanie were blessed with a little girl named Holly Marie, but she died after only three days. It was a difficult time for both of them. In January of 1995 their first son, Tyler was born and life became better.

Stan pitched in the WT at Gillette, WY in 1996 finishing 7th place in the Men's Championship Class with a 76.0%. He had a hot streak going for him the second night of the finals during a four game stretch. Take a look at these records:
     W     Alan Francis              Ohio        40-33     60/78     76.93%
     W     Paul LaCrosse             Colorado    42-27     69/84     82.15%
     L     Art Tyson                 New York    38-40     62/78     79.49%
     W     Walter Ray Williams, Jr.  California  41-24     72/84     85.72%

Topping the year off Stan won his first Men's State Title with 14 wins, 1 loss with a 72.9%. He came back again in 1997, defending his state title successfully with a 75.3%.

1998 was a most memorable year for Stan, the arrival of their daughter, Brooke, completed their family. At the 1998 State Tournament at Park Hills, Stan was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the young age of 34 for his achievements. He has remained in the Championship Class each year since 1988. In 1999 the State Tournament was held in St. Joseph for the first time since 1982. It was only befitting that Stan picked up his third Men's State Title on the grounds where his old alma mater stands high on the hilltop.

At the current time, Stan is the number one ranked 40 foot pitcher in MO. You never hear him complain that many times he is the only 40 footer in his class since he resides on the same side of the state as Don Harris, Lou Rector, Vicki Winston, Pam Henderson, Oden Sullivan, and even some imports from Kansas. Stan welcomes the chance to participate against some stiff competition and it doesn't bother him that some stand closer to the opposite stake than he does. He just concentrates on trying to throw ringers and get his ringer average as high as possible. If he gets upset, it's with himself when he has a performance that wasn't to his liking.

Stan not only shines on the courts but puts in hours of work as the State Statistician. When he took this job back in 1987, MO had a membership of 300. Today, the membership hovers around 1,000 with over 60 MO sanctioned tournaments per year and over 15 sanctioned leagues. It has become a full time job. As if this isn't enough, Stan designed the MOHPA web page and put in online in 1997. It is a daily to weekly maintained tool for our association listing current tournaments, results, records, etc. We have now had over 7,000 hits on this webpage. Stan is very talented and creative on the computer, creating and designing a new logo for our state for our new office trailer. He designs the covers of various booklets and souvenir program books each year. He also does the certificates presented to each of the Hall of Fame inductees and achievement awards each year.

Stan really showed his "theatric ability" at the first 1999 State Awards Banquet as the emcee. Planning and hosting the banquet, along with Vicki Winston, he also produced and presented a slide presentation of MO horseshoe pitchers from the past. If you were there, you'll never forget it.

Stan has had many "highs" in his horseshoe career. He credits his father for getting him started in this sport. He watched and learned from the pitchers he idolized as a young boy such as Charles Killgore, Sam Carter and Elwyn Cooper using them as a goal he wished to attain.

White I was keeping score on the sidelines at the 1999 State Fair Tournament in Sedalia for the A Class pitchers, I overheard a conversation taking place behind me in the bleachers. Jerry Griggs was sitting there explaining this game of horseshoes and answering questions to some bystanders who sat down to watch. "That one young fellow out there (pointing to Stan) seems to know what he's doing," stated the spectator. "Oh yeah!" replied Jerry, "That's my boy!" "Naw, he doesn't practice much." Jerry answers. "He's been MO State Champ several times now," Jerry added. "Is that right?" the fellow replied. It was a horseshoe "moment" that brought a smile to my face.

Just as Jerry Griggs is proud of his son, so is the horseshoe pitchers of Missouri, Stan has been blessed with many talents along with the desire and determination to pursue them. Stan has added a "plus" to our organization through his service and dedication to the sport of horseshoes. Stan looks forward to the years ahead with high ambition and goals, with high hopes of catching Dave Baker's record of 15 State Titles. He hopes to continuously grown and improve the MOHPA, keeping the standard we have set for others to follow. Stan's skills and achievements on the courts, his talents and computer skills have made him a great asset to our state association. Missouri horseshoe pitchers salutes "Stan, the Man" for all he is, for all he does!