Shoe Biz Profile - November 1999


Originally Written by Jeanette Claas

The Shoe Biz spotlight shines upon a fellow from the sunflower state of Kansas who is most well known in the western part of Missouri as "Mr. Personality!" Wayne Trautwein entered this world way back in 1913, born and bred on a farm in Green, Kansas. Coming from a family of three brothers and one sister he remembers working many long hours and days helping his Dad to feed a family of seven. For $12.50 you could buy 50 bushels of wheat!

Wayne was 22 and Fern 19, when they first met at a roller skating rink in Clay Center, Kansas. She was having trouble with her skates and Wayne asked if he could help. He managed to take her home that evening which began a courtship that has lasted over 60 years. They married on Feb, 26, 1936. Wayne and Fern were blessed with four children: Connie, Terry, Sharon and Dick. All of their children have had an interest in horseshoes being raised in the midst of it. Sharon is married to Kent Armstrong, our current MOHPA Vice President. She has been an active pitcher in Missouri for many years. Connie, now living in Arizona also pitches shoes. For many years Connie hosted a horseshoe tournament in Arizona called "The Wayne Trautwein Tournament" in honor of her father. Fern never played horseshoes but she probably has kept score more than any other Missourian. In 1997 she received a recognition plaque from the MOHPA for her many years of scorekeeping service. Today Fern and Wayne are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

Wayne would become the "bread winner" of this family by making a lifetime career with Manor Bakery from which he retired after 31 years of service in 1978. Wayne was a route man and a supervisor which meant no "loafing" on the job. Later on he transferred to Kansas City, MO as a sales manager (making more dough, of course) being in charge of 48 bread routes. (We're just glad he didn't transfer to the "yeast!" coast).

Wayne began pitching horseshoes on the farm and at family gatherings in the early thirty's. Around 1945, a friend named Lou Edmonds introducted him to the more serious and organized game of horseshoes and thus began an interest he would pursue for the rest of his life. As his ringer percentage began increasing he would enter small city tournaments and the Kansas State Tournaments. During a State Tournament in 1948 at Wichita, pitching in "A" Class, Wayne tied for first place against the legendary Wichita horseshoe pitcher, "Marines Tamboer." Losing the play-off game, Wayne placed second winning $10.00, a new tie and a hammer!

A job transfer moved his family to Kansas City, MO in 1957. Being new to the area and not wanting to give up his favorite sport, he began looking around and made contact with Charles Killgore. They met at Budd Park in Kansas City so Wayne could qualify for his first MO State Tournament. In 1961, the Trautwein's traveled to Sedalia in a 1960 Ford to attend this event along with their son and daughter-in-law. They were unable to find a place to sleep, so his son and his wife slept inside the car, while Wayne and Fern retreated to the trunk for a good night's rest! Using the spare tire for a pillow, Wayne put a horseshoe over the edge of the trunk so no one could close the lid on them. When they woke up, the morning dew had dripped down on them.

Vicki Winston recalls in 1960, when she and Earl were first married, Wayne was living in the Kansas City area and had a bakery route that included their area. Earl's folks lived just up the road from them and Earl's mother was one of his customers. A long lasting friendship developed between Earl's father and Wayne that was to include many hours of horseshoe pitching together.

In 1978 Wayne attended his first and only World Tournament held in Des Moines, Iowa. He won the Men's Class "E" Championship. It was there that he became acquainted with the great Ted Allen.

Wayne joined the Heart of America Horseshoe League and has been a member of 30 years. He became a member of this club when the original Kansas City courts were built at the Northeast Athletic Field. His partner and daughter, Sharon, has won first place in league play twice. Several times Wayne won the "Heart of America" Championship. He was voted "Sportsman of the Year" by his peers six different years; 1985, 87, 90, 91, 92 and 97 all proving that he was a well-liked respected man. Now at the age of 85, he is still an active member.

Wayne is credited with 31 years of membership in the MOHPA. His membership was sporadic due to this job. Vicki Winston reports that in the early years of horseshoe pitching, people usually only bought NHPA cards if they were going to play in the State Tournament. There were no sanctioned tournaments and no sanctioned league programs. Qualifying was on site, with one entire day taken up to qualify for the tournament. Wherever Wayne's job took him it made it difficult for him to go to Sedalia to qualify and then be back in Sedalia part of another day to pitch in his class. People went everywhere to pitch in the 1950's and 60's but didn't necessarily have membership cards. Wayne has been pitching shoes a lot longer than he has been a member.

His achievements in his horseshoe career are remarkable. In 1964 and 1965 Wayne pitched in the Men's Championship Class. In 1984, 85, 86 and 1988, Wayne won 1st place in the Men's Senior Division at the MO State Tournament. Three other years he was Men's Senior runner-up. From 1974-1996 Wayne was the all time leader of the Senior Men's Division with 54 wins. He has maintained a 53-57% average. Wayne noted for his fairness and competitive ways has been invited to several invitationals and has been asked to pitch in "A" Class competing against the likes of Elwyn Cooper, Charlie Killgore, Dave Baker and Ron Frakes. (Guess who was there keeping score?) Wayne's pitching style was a 1 3/4 turn, pitching his friend's Ted Allen horseshoes. In later years, moving up to 30 feet, he has changed to a 1 1/4 turn and now throws M&M horseshoes.

In the hallway of the Trautwein home hangs a picture and a scoresheet framed in a shadow box of a well-remembered horseshoe game that Wayne vividly recalls. It was the Kansas City Open Tournament and the game pitched against his longtime friend, Elwyn Cooper in 1984. A total of 70 shoes were pitched; Wayne pitching 51 ringers and Elwyn 54. Joe Beem was the scorekeeper and he still thinks about that exciting game, that Cooper won. Take a look at the scoresheet.

        Class: A           Date: October 6, 1984
        Game No: 5         Court: 2
        Wayne Trautwein    v.s    Elwyn Cooper
        Ring  Pts  Score         Ring   Pts  Score
         X     -     -      2     OX     3     3
         X     -     -      4     OX     3     6
        --     -     -      6      X     3     9
         X     -     -      8     OX     3    12
         X     -     -     10     OX     3    15
         X     -     -     12      X     1    16
        XX     -     -     14     XX     -     - 
         X     1     1     16      X     -     -
        XX     -     -     18     XX     -     -
        OX     3     4     20      X     -     -
         X     1     5     22      X     -     -
         X     -     -     24     OX     3    19
        XO     3     8     26      X     -     
        --     -     -     28      O     3    22
        XX     -     -     30     XX     -     -
        XX     -     -     32     XX     -     -
        XX     -     -     34     XX     -     -
        XX     -     -     36     XX     -     -
         X     -     -     38     OX     3    25
        OX     3    11     40      X     -     -
        OO     6    17     42     --     -     -
         X     -     -     44     XO     3    28
        OO     6    23     46     --     -     -
        OX     3    26     48      X     -     -
         X     -     -     50     OX     3    31
         X     -     -     52     OX     3    34
        XX     -     -     54     XX     -     -
        XX     -     -     56     XX     -     -
        OX     3    29     58      X     -     -
        --     -     -     60      O     3    37
        XX     -     -     62     XX     -     -
        XX     -     -     64     XX     -     -
        XX     -     -     66     XX     -     -
        OX     3    32     68      X     -     -
         X     -     -     70     XO     3    40
                    32   POINTS    40
                    51   RINGERS   54
                    19   DOUBLES   21
                    70   SHOES     70
                   72.9  PERCENT  77.1
                  Scorekeeper: Joe Beem

No one is a stranger to Wayne. During league play or competition, he is ready to help anyone with their game and does this with a smile on his face. Was it no wonder then in 1991 that Wayne Trautwein was so honored by being inducted into the Missouri Horseshoe Hall of Fame for his years of dedication to the sport of horseshoes.

"Never give up winning a game", advises Wayne. "Winning or losing creates a bond with your opponent. This friendship is priceless!" Wayne and Fern have made many friendships over the years.

Wayne is thankful for his good health enabling him to still play the game he loves. Within the last few years of moving up to 30 feet to pitch, the art of throwing ringers is still a chalenge. "Although," he says, "Less Wheaties are required." for sure, Wayne has ate the breakfast of champions for many years. Wayne's world has included many ringers in his lifetime. Missouri horseshoe pitchers salutes this gentleman who by his winning personality and winning ways has won and influenced many people over the years. His achievements and contributions to the game of horseshoes are admired by all who know him.