Shoe Biz Profile - June 2002


Originally Written by Jeanette Claas

While the name "Diekamp" (pronounced Dee-camp) is an old German well-known name in the St. Charles are, it has also become a well-known name in the horseshoe pitching circuit. Bob & Rose have both made a name for themselves with their natural skills and ability for horseshoe pitching. In their years of pitching shoes, the Diekamps, have collected their share of hardware. Trophies, metals and plaques have served as an indicator of their talents. First place (TOP) finishes in tournaments have become the norm. And in the last few years, state championship titles have taken their place among their collection. In fact, they have accumulated so many that they have had the metal plates removed off some 150 trophies and donated them to the Special Olympics

Bob was born in rural Missouri on November 8, 1934, the very same day that Donald Duck was introduced to the world. Bob is proud to share his birthday with "The Donald". For those of you who are familiar with St. Charles, Bob's homeplace was located at Highway 94 and Friedens Road where the Country Car Wash stands today. Bob was the youngest of 4 children which included 3 older sisters. Bob attended a one room elementary school house next door to his home for his first 4 years of schooling. In his early teens, Bob was an avid baseball fan and would attend all baseball games held in the St. Charles area. At that time, he developed his first case of puppy love that would send him hitchhiking from Highway 94 to St. Peters just to get a glimpse of Nancy Pallardy who just happened to be the bat girl for the St. Charles Merchanettes Team. (Later in life, Nancy would pitch horseshoes with the MOHPA.) They never dated as Bob was too tongue-tied to act on his feelings; however, they would run into each other at the local skating rink in St. Charles. He then attended Francis Howell High School, where he graduated from in 1952. While attending high school, Bob participated in both sports that the school offered; basketball and fast-pitch softball. He started on the Basketball Varsity team, as a freshman standing at a mere 5 foot tall. He everntually grew 11 more inches and was chosen Captain of his team. Bob was a popular and handsome lad who would escort the coronation queen during homecoming festivities.

After graduation, Bob married and went to work with the Sinclair Oil Co., where he worked for 17 years. He then went to work for Monsanto Chemical Co. in 1969, working in the microfilming and photo laboratory when he retired in 1991. He was then contracted to work individually as a consultant with Monsanto and has just recently slowed down to working 4 days a week. Bob has three daughters; Michelle 46 years, Mary 18 years and Robyn, 16 years old. He is also grandfather of two grandsons, Josh 23 & Jon 24.

Bob has been an active sportsman during his lifetime enjoying many different fields of sports. He played baseball for the East Missouri Baseball League at C&H for 20 years, playing shortstop and relief pitcher. He pitched a 9-inning no-hitter in 1974. He then played fast pitch softball for over 40 years, pitching his last fast-pitch game of softball when he was 56 years young. He participated in many state tournaments, pitching many no-hitters and two perfect games. Twice he struck out 17 of 21 batters, earning him MVP and TOP Pitcher awards. In 1986 he was inducted into the St. Charles County Amateur Sports Hall of Fame for his achievements in the game of softball.

Ping-Pong anyone? In 1972 & 1973 Bob earned the St. Charles County Championship title in table tennis. In 1973 he and his daughter, Michelle, won the Doubles Championship. Due to knee surgery, Bob hasn't bowled since 1992, but spent over 25 years participating in this sport. He bowled in traveling leagues, carrying high averages of 205-210. He has four 300 perfect games under his belt. At the age of 18, Bob showed his skills in dartball carrying a 550 batting average. He had 32 hits in 32 at bats during one good night that year, and was voted MVP in 4 all-star games. Bob has occassionally played golf throughout his lifetime, and yes, he did manage to get a "hole-in-one" on a golf course in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1983.

His Dad introduced the sport of horseshoes to him when he was young; pitching with shoes that came right from the horses' hoof. He would pitch with his Dad and brother-in-laws at picnics and family reunions. It wasn't until he was 43 years old that he started pitching with the St. Charles Warren County League with the Crossroads team. "I threw in my first tournament in 1977 at the New Melle Horseshoe Courts. We had to throw 100 shoes to qualify. I was so nervous I didn't throw well enough to make the tournament. They said for a dollar fee, anyone could try again. I gave them another dollar and pitched 42%, qualifying for the "A" Class. I came in third, losing to Sam Carter and Charlie Lawrence. I wish I had started sooner in life, but softball, bowling dartball and table tennis took up most of my time."

Rose was born in southeastern Missouri in the small town of Claryville in Perry County on May 23, 1942. She grew up on a farm, coming from a large family of 10 children, 5 girls and 5 boys, Rose being #8. She finished grade school at 14 years. She baby-sat until age 16 and then went to work in a Hosiery Mill. She married in 1960 and had two children; Duane, now 41 and Kimberly 38, she is the proud grandmother of one granddaughter, Jessica 8, and one grandson, Luke 18 months. In her late twenties Rose earned her GED, and worked for UPS for 10 years. In 1990 she attended St. Louis Tech School for two years studying to be a "draftswoman." She was hired at Foam Products in St. Louis County in 1992 designing structural insulated panels for houses on a computer where she is presently employed.

Rose's athletic skills have been applied in racquetball, softball pitching and fishing with trophies to attest to her natural sports abilities. Rose was introduced to horseshoes by her younger sister, #10, Joan Buchheit in 1991. Joan was getting a horseshoe team together to play on the Golden Triangle League and needed another player. She called her sister and asked her to pitch with them. "Horseshoes?" Rose replied. "I've never thrown horseshoes, but guess I could try!" Within 10 short years, Rose would master the game to win the Missouri Women's State Champion title three times.

If it weren't for horseshoes, Bob & Rose probably would have never met. Bob, once remarked that he walked clear across Texas looking for a women who could pitch horseshoes. And by luck, he found her on a horseshoe court close to where he lived in their own home state of Missouri. Bob came into Rose's life when she was just beginning to pitch horseshoes at Blanchette Park. Bob was doing some silk screening at that time. Hearing that there was a ladies league playing there, he came out one night to see about selling some shirts to the teams. Rose, along with Mary Duke, went to his car to look over his shirt collection that same evening. When Rose went to his home a few days later to pick up her new shirt, Bob asked her out to dinner, beginning a courtship that ended on January 2, 1994 when they married. "When I first saw Rose throw shoes, I had to laugh (to myself, of course)," Bob remarked. "She would take three steps, lay one shoe down while pitching the other. Her shoe would flip, with a quarter turn. I coached her, telling her to get rid of her bad habits. She did that and got to be a 40 percenter. Her shoe would flip at times, but not turn, or turn, but not flip. She worked it all out, and the rest is history."

"Horseshoes came easy for me, but not for Rose. 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," Bob says. "She does not give up. You do not have her beat until the last shoe is pitched and walking off the court. When Rose become serious with her horseshoes, she had someone better than her to practice with. Now, I have someone better than me to practice with."

In her first year of pitching (1991) in league play, Rose pitched a 9.72% average and received her 20% patch. Rose pitched her first tournament in New Melle pitching in Class B; she won 2nd place with a 7-1 record and a 25% average. In 1992 Rose entered her first State Tournament pitching in the "C" Class winning 2nd place, 33%. After that she jumped to the Women's Class A Division winning 2nd place, 5-2, 41.4%. Since that time she has earned a spot in the Championship Class winning the State Title in 1997, 1998 and 2000. She was a 4-time State runner-up in 1994, 95, 96 & 99. Rose has won the State Doubles' Championship the last 3 years; lucky is the partner she carries. In 1995 Rose was named Horseshoe Pitcher of the Year. State records indicate that in 25 open tournaments that she participated in at New Melle, Rose has won 20 first place finishes, three 2nd place finishes and two 3rd place finishes. Rose ranked #1 in Missouri's Women Division for the year 2001 with a ringer average of 71.78%. Rose has held an outstanding ringer percentage of above 70% the last six years and carries a 72.30% at this time. In 1996, Rose pitched a high game of 91.1% (32 ringers out of 34 shoes) in 1996 and in 1997 she had a high game of 94.4% (34 ringers out of 36 shoes). Rose was the first lady in St. Charles to be inducted for horseshoes into the St. Charles County Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 making them the first husband-wife team to share this honor. Due to their working schedules Bob & Rose have attended only two World Tournaments at Perry, Georgia and Kitchener, Ontario. In 1997 Rose qualified for the Women's World Championship, finishing in 19th place with an average of 69.02%. Rose is currently ranked 23rd nationally with an average of 70.79%.

Bob & Rose have been pitching in the Team Tournament held in Beloit, WI since 1995 and recalls a most memorable tournament. Before the tournament in 1999, as Rose went to eat breakfast, she tripped and fell on the handicap ramp knocking the air out of her lungs. Injuring her ribs and wrist, she was taken to the hospital for x-rays. She had indeed broken her wrist and fractured her ribs. Arriving at the tournament with a cast on her right hand, teammate, Stan Griggs, didn't like what he was seeing. There was no way Rose could hold onto that shoe. So Stan taking the initative found a hacksaw and sawed part of the cast off so she could pitch. She went on to win 9 games, losing 1. The swelling and breathing made it impossible for her to continue the next day. At the courts that same day, a squirrel fell out of a nest onto the courts crippling its leg. Paula Hunsicker's daughter took the squirrel home and nursed it back to good health. They named it "Rose." The next year, they returned to Beloit for more World Team competition, only this time it was Bob's turn. After the second day of pitching, and enjoying a good dinner, they returned to their motel room. After showering Bob noticed that his stomach was "beet" red and bulging. They went to the emergency room where doctors discovered a bulging hernia and operated on him the next morning. It was a long ride home for the two of them.

Bob has been an accomplished horseshoe pitcher for the last 25 years and has been a member of the MOHPA for 18 years. Since 1990 Bob has earned a place in the Men's Class A division six times winning first place in 1993. He has pitched in the Men's Championship Class five times taking 4th place in 1996 with 12 wins - 3 loses pitching a 65.8%. He also won the Men's Senior Championship title in 1998. From 1993-1998 Bob's average have ranged from 61% to 66% in tournaments held at NMHC winning many 1st and 2nd place honors.

Bob & Rose are currently pitching in and directing the New Melle Jack & Jill League held in the winter months at New Melle. Rose also plays on the Ladies First Capitol Horseshoe League during the summer. They have both assisted in conducting Horseshoe Clinics for beginners at NMHC for the past three years. Bob & Rose often pitch as doubles at the Shelbyville tournament and took first place in the the MO-IL Top Gun tournament in 1995.

So how about this horseshoe couple whose skills, talents and accomplishments have influenced many Missouri horseshoe pitchers. In summary, Bob has had a lifetime of athletic activities achieving high honors in all sports and Rose has had a most remarkable horseshoe career in such a short time. Missouri salutes this horseshoe couple who have reaped the rewards and given back through the kindness of their services to promoting horseshoes in Missouri. As you have read, Bob is a man of many talents, but one that I especially admire is his poetic mind; he can wrap up a poem in a short time.

I've met some people playing this game; not knowing from horseshoes my life would change.
Off all the great people I knew, I met one "special" person throwing shoes.
I watched her throw, and laughed inside, she would throw one shoe as the other lie by her side.
She would take three steps and let it go, why she did that, I'll never know.
I saw something in this person, I don't know why.
But I could see how hard she would always try.
I said, "Don't lay one shoe by your side, it will mess up your rhythm once you're in stride."
I also said, "Don't take three steps, when you throw, just take one and let it go."
She picked all this up to my surprise, and then her percentage began to rise.
We threw a lot together, what spare time we had, I showed her no mercy, and I beat her real bad.
I asked her to try something new, just throw a straight flip, that's not a bad shoe.
She struggled for a while. but would not give up,
I asked if she wanted to quit, but she said she didn't have enough.
For her things started to go right, I could still win, but had to throw with all my might.
As time went on we would each win the same, now I need to throw for hours, just to win one game.
She tried so hard and had the will to win, I knew I needed this lady, and a new life to begin.
When we got married there was a lot of jokes,
about her wanting to throw horseshoes, so she slept with her coach.
But it wasn't me who made her what she is, it was her will to win and she never says "give".
The ones she has played can tell you the same, that they never felt safe that they could win that game.
Through the years, horseshoes has been fun, the quarrels we had, well, we really had none.
We throw our shoes, and practice still, just wish I had one thing that is her will.
She will never give up; she will fight to the end, no matter how far down, she always thinks she can win.
Horseshoes has still been fun to this day, but I thank the Good Lord for arranging us to meet this way.