GREENVILLE – The 60th Annual Ringer Classic was home to many of the world’s best horseshoe pitchers with contestants attending from 14 states and this past weekend at the 18 horseshoe courts in the Greenville City Park.
“Greenville is behind us, the Park Board, even the Health Board,” said Darke County Horseshoe Club President and Tournament Director, Brian Fisher. “We have been on board with them and we are in compliance in every way, a safe tournament for everybody.”
“We have some of the biggest names in here this weekend,” added Fisher. “Alan Francis (Defiance, OH) 24 time world champion labeled the most dominant sports figure of all-time, Gale Greene from Vermont, his first time here, Rick Howe from Massachusetts, Austin Bailey from Illinois, Raymond Bedard from Maryland so the Men’s Class A will be loaded.”
Also competing in the Men’s Class A: Ben Webb (KY), Darryl Miller (Plain City, OH), Randy Hankins (KY), Joshua Olson (Minnesota) and Gary Roberts (Beaver, OH).
Competing in the women’s Class A and B classes included: Theresa Howe (MA), Sherrill Hambel (OH), Terry Beagle (MI), Melanie Zerr (MO), Sue Laughlin (NY), Amy Francis (OH), Sharon Chiddister (IN), Barbara Carson (AZ), Linda Aurell (CT), Margaret Potter (OH), Julia K Charlton (IN) and Brooke Reiser (MO).
A regular at the Ringer Classic is Defiance, Ohio’s Alan Francis, a 24-time and reigning World Champion along with his wife Amy, a former second place finisher at the World tournament and their son Alex Francis.
“He’s the most dominant athlete of any sport of all times,” Fisher said of Francis. “We’re lucky to have him here.”
“Getting to play against the greatest player that ever walked on a horseshoe court doesn’t hurt anything either,” said Ohio Horseshoe Pitchers Association (OHPA) President, Gary Roberts of sharing the courts with Francis.
“I love it here,” Francis said. “The park’s nice, the courts are great. You think about all the legends that have pitched here over the years and that is what really makes it special, knowing there were World Tournaments here, all the greats, Elmer Hohl, Curt Day and right down the line. It is just part of the summer and I would have really been disappointed if we couldn’t come.”
“I’ve been coming to Greenville for about 25 years,” said Plain City, Ohio’s Darryl Miller. “It’s a great park, great facilities and its family oriented. You can bring the family out here and just have a lot of fun. It is a really good atmosphere out here – good people.”
Known as the Horseshoe Pitching Capitol of The World, Greenville’s Ringer Classic is known as a warm-up for the NHPA World Championship, an event that has been cancelled for the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
“I will not have a chance to defend,” Francis said of his 2019 World Championship title. “They cancelled it several weeks ago. I would have liked to have a chance for another one (No. 25) but it wasn’t meant to be this year. Hopefully things will shape up and we will have in next year in Nevada.”
Ringer Classic Men Class A
1. Alan Francis (OH)
2. Gale Greene (VT)
3. Austin Bailey (IL)
4. Raymond Bedard (MA)
5. Ben Webb (KY)
6. Darryl Miller (OH)
7. Rick Howe (MA)
8. Randy Hankins (KY)
9. Joshua Olson (MN)
10. Gary Roberts (OH)
Ringer Classic Women Class A
1. Theresa Howe (MA)
2. Sherrill Hambel (OH)
3. Terry Beagle (MI)
4. Melanie Zerr (MO)
5. Sue Laughlin (NY)
6. Amy Francis (OH)
PHOTO CAPTION: Reigning World Champion, Alan Francis pitches at Greenville’s Ringer Classic on his way to winning the Championship Trophy. (Gaylen Blosser photo)