Shoe Biz Profile - November 2000


Originally Written by Jeanette Claas

Wayne & Pam Henderson are both home grown products of Missouri. Wayne came from a small town, Ava, located 55 miles southeast of Springfield, MO, on June 12 1940. He was raised on a small farm in a small four room house with a path, the youngest of three children. They had no electricity until he was about 8 years old enduring all the hardships of that time. His siblings called him "pet brother Wayne." He was glad to get past this part of his childhood. He continued in school, lettering in track and football and graduating from Ava High School in 1958.

As a young man he set out to seek his fortune and Wayne says he is still seeking it. After working at Montgomery Ward for 8 years, he took his Civil Service test, passed it and became a letter carrier. He retired from the post office in 1997. Wayne's first marriage ended after having two children; a son David, now 40, living in Independence with 3 children. His daughter, Cindy, age 38 lives in California with 2 daughters.

Pam was born clear across the state in St. Louis on July 11, 1944. She was also the third child born into her family. Pam's father was a full-blood Cherokee Indian from North Carolina. He was a Marine in the 4th Division during World Warr II. Pam's mother received word that he had been killed in 1945 on Iwo Jima. It was hard times for her mother supporting three little girls. Moving around a lot in the state of Missouri, Pam attended fourteen different schools as she was growing up. At the age of 15, Pam moved in with her grandparents in Kansas City. She never finished high school but went to work at a tax and bookkeeping store. She eventually got her GED diploma and her grandfather sent her to IBM school. She then went to work for the IRS. Pam everntually married and had two sons. Mike lives in Independence with 2 children and Steve lives in Mexico, MO with 2 children. Her first marriage also ended.

Wayne & Pam met in 1974 through friends while Wayne was playing guitar in a band at the Eagles Club. Knowing that they were "just meant for each other," Pam & Wayne married in 1978 having four children between tham and Pam quit working in 1986. They now enjoy nine grandchildren.

Wayne had pitched some backyard horseshoes as a youngster but said he never got too many ringers. His first pair of horseshoes was the real kind, one was smooth and the other had caulks. Wayne's renewed interest in horseshoes was inspired by a neighbor. One day during the year 1975, Wayne heard the clink, clink, clink sounds of horseshoes from this neighbor's backyard. He went out to watch and the neighbor had an extra pair, so they played and Wayne was beat bad in several games of 21 points. The neighbor tried to teach him the 3/4 turn but he was never comfortable with it. In 1976 Wayne met a friend, Danny Krchinski who pitched in the Kansas City Horseshoe Club. Shortly after that he went to the Kansas City Horseshoe Club to watch. He remembers especially Harry Strohm and Wayne Trautwein who were throwing the 1 3/4 turn. They held their shoe about the same way Wayne held his, bu it turned a full turn more and they got a lot more ringers. The first shoe Wayne pitched trying the new turn was a ringer and he never desired to change turns since. Soon Wayne was winning games from his neighbor and all of a sudden the neighbor decided he didn't like to pitch anymore.

Wayne joined the Heart of America Horseshoe Club in 1976 and bought his first NHPA card in 1978 from Jim Acock of the K.C. Horseshoe Club. The club had about 24 members and some of them were from the Independence area. They decided they needed a club lcoated in their own city. With the approval of the Parks Dept. they began to build the Independence Horseshoe Club, starting with 12 courts. They now have 24 courts that are top of the line. Wayne was elected treasurer of the new club in 1981. He became Vice President in 1984 and served as President from 1985-90. He also served as the statistician for both league nights. He started the "Adopt a Highway" program for the club. In 1985 Wayne won the bid to host the State Tournament for the second time in Independence. It has been the site of five State Tournaments. It was at one of these State Tournaments that the pitchers first received a souvenir program book. They were involved in that project, too.

Pam had never heard the word "horseshoes" until she met Wayne. He started showing her the tricks of the trade in their own backyard. He showed her the flip shoe, but she couldn't throw it. He next showed her how to hold it on the side for a turn and a quarter. She couldn't get it at first but with a lot of practice it everntually came. Wayne was pitching at the Heart of America Club and she would go to league play and tournaments with him. While they were at a tournament in Leavenworth, Bill Chester, long-time pitcher and Tournament Director for the Leavenworth Kansas Tournament came up to Pam and asked her if she had ever pitched shoes? "Only in the backyard," replied Pam. They needed one more lady pitcher and pleading with her Pam finally agreed. From that moment on, Pam's life was to take on a new kind of turn.

Pam met Rita Killgore at that tournament and she offered some pitching tips to Pam. Pam remembers Rita telling her about some women who always won the State Tournament title. Little did Pam know she would be up against that very same lady. Vicki Winston, many, many times in her future. Much later, in 1992, Pam remembers well the first time she beat Vicki, It was at a Heart of America Club Tournament. "I was so happy, I ran over and told Wayne." Later Vicki told Pam, "I saw you run over and tell Wayne." I couldn't help it. I thought I would have a chance at State then." Vicki also recalls another serious game between the two of them at the 1992 MO State Tournament. "I have a copy of the scoresheet stuck on the wall of my office. The game between Pam and I went 84 shoes. Pam pitched 79.8% and I pitched 86.9%. The final score was 40-23. I thought the game would never get over!"

Pam and her sister, Nancy, were the first women to pitch in the Heart of America Club. They started pitching there in 1982.

Pam started doing publicity for the Independence Horseshoe Club in 1983 when she became secretary of the club and has been doing it ever since. She became the official State Publicity chairperson in 1990 but had been doing so since 1985. This is a never ending job for Pam. She stays in constant contact with the media sending to them information about local, state and national tournaments. She sends info to our clubs using Shoe Biz as her communication line. She contacts the tourism guide for the State of MO reporting scheduled tournaments in various areas of the state. She must know first hand knowledge of horseshoes in our state and be prepared at all times to answear questions someone may ask. She commends the horseshoe pitchers in our state who report to their local media events of that area. She is in that sense a reporter and a promoter for our sport.

Pam entered her first State Tourney in St. Joseph in 1982. She finished with a 6% average. Pam has missed only one State Tourney since 1982. In all but two of those years she pitched in the Championship Class raising her average from 25.9% to 71.4%. She never won the Class but was State Runner-up in 1990, 1992 and 1993. She placed first in the 1993 MO State Doubles Championship with Hurley Mahan for her partner. Today, Pam, ranks #2 in Missouri 1999 Top 20 Women's pitchers with a current average of 68.80%.

Pam enetered her first World Tournament with Wayne in North Carolina in 1983 averaging 20%. She won first place in 1989 in Class C Division. She appreared in the Women's Championship Class at the World Tournament competition in Biloxi, MS in 1991. She, along with Stan Griggs, were rookies that year, and she was scared to death. She had one real good game against, Debbie Michaud, pitching 81%. In 1992 she placed 2nd in Class A with a 65%.

Pam has competed among the greats. She pitched against Alan Francis in a tournament at the Heart of America. She had 34 points to Alan's 12 points. "Well, that was the last of my scoring, Alan beat me." At the State Fair during a match with Loree Meier, the score was Pam 39, Loree 25. "Well, I was still on 39 when she beat me." Another match she recalls between herself and Lou Rector - the score Pam 39, Lou 36. "Well, guess what, he won! Lou and I had 11 four deads in a row, and Cooper and I have had just as many if not more! That's what is fun, four dead, four dead, etc."

Pam has participated in many tournaments displaying the skill that she has developed over the years. Take a look at these tournament averages:
* 1991 - Independence Spring Open - Women's Class A - 1st place - 67.1%
* 1992 - Independence Fall Mixed Open - Class A - 1st place - 70.2%
* 1995 - Independence Fall Mixed Open - Class A - 4th place - 69.0%
* 1999 - Missouri State Fair Mixed Open - Class A - 2nd place - 71.2%
* 1999 - Kansas City Mixed Open - Class A - 4th place - 69.3%
* 2000 - Independence Spring Mixed Open - Class A - 1st place - 70.2%
* 2000 - Independence Fall Mixed Open - Class A - 1st place - 77.7%

During league play at Independence Pam has won league champion twice, received Top Ten three times, won high game and high average several times, and at least six times won high game and high average on the league. Pam has received her 80% patch and is currently working on getting that hard to get 90% one. She has served the league as secretary, publicity person, statistician and refreshment person.

In 1986 Wayne was elected President of the MOHPA organization and served in that office until 1992. At the beginning of his term, MO had a membership of 350. Through the efforts of Wayne, MO membership grew to 1,000 members. Under his leadership, he opened up the eyes of horseshoe pitchers in eastern Missouri and a new era of horseshoe pitching began in MO. Together Wayne and Pam undertook to begin, and serve as editors for our first MOHPA newsletter, addressing all by hand.

During his presidency, Wayne helped many horseshoe clubs: working with the Liberty Horseshoe Club, dedicating the new Marshall Courts, helped to sanctioned the Heart of America Club and the St. Joseph Pony Express Club, and also helped with the Blue Springs bid on the WT for 1995.

Wayne loved pitching horseshoes. In 1982 only a handful of Missourians attended the World Tournament. His first tournament that year he was in G Class, placing second. He won the F Class in 1984 pitching a 56% average. He has been attending WT's ever since, missing only three different years. Wayne has carried ringer percentage average ranging in the 40-50% during his horseshoe career and pitching some high games in the 70-80% range. A rotator cuff injury and sacrificing hours of practice for other horseshoe duties may have kept Wayne from reaching greater heights. When Wayne isn't practicing, you will find him keeping score, being a judge, always lending a helping hand whenever needed.

Wayne and Pam have both been active in helping and assisting at the MO State Fair Tournaments. Pam helping with the stats, and Wayne helping with the installation of 12 horseshoe courts in temperatures of over 100 degrees.

In 1987 Wayne received an NHPA Certificate of Merit for outstanding achievements and promotion of the game of horseshoes. Wayne received his most cherished award from the State of MO in 1998 when they honored him by inducting him into the MOHPA Hall of Fame.

Horseshoe pitching and all its activities has been such a big part of Wayne and Pam's lives that it has overshadowed their other hobbies. Wayne enjoys singing and playing guitar. He is presently driving Pam crazy learning to play the fiddle while she tries to concentrate on her crochet work. They are also active in their church, and Wayne now delivers Meals on Wheels insted of letters since his retirement. Wayne and Pam are also supporters of the Independence Concert Band and avid fans of the K.C. Chiefs football team and K.C. Royals baseball team.

"I'll always be indebted to this game for all it has given to me. Although I never became a great pitcher, I enjoy the game as much as the great pitchers do. I have won my share of games by trying to be competitive and I never give up. To the new pitchers, I would like to say, "Have patience, don't expect too much too soon, enjoy the game and do your best at all times. Remember that in a game of horseshoes anything can happen and probably will."

Wayne and Pam wil be receiving their 20 year patches in the year 2000. I would be hard to find very many people who have been more dedicated to our sport than these two. Wayne and Pam are just wonderful ambassadors for the sport of horseshoe pitching. They have expended much effort in helping to make the MOHPA what it is today. For all the two of you do, Missouri horseshoe pitchers salute you!