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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Pitch perfect! Painted Post man scores a ringer to win horseshoe title

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  • James M. Button missed the stake completely on his second-to-last shot in the 2014 World Horseshoe Tournament.
    “It came right down to one point. The guy I was shooting with shot his last two shoes and only got two points,” Button said. “My first shoe went over the top of the stake and I said, ‘Oh my god, what a way to lose.’”
    He had one more shot, and this time his aim was dead-on.  
    Button, 62, a resident and deputy superintendent of Painted Post, scored a ringer to become the Men’s M2 division World Horseshoe Tournament champion.
    It wasn’t easy; the last game was ugly.
    “I wasn’t shooting good a game and the guy shooting against me wasn’t, either,” said Button. “It was just one or two points, one way or the other, all the way through.”
    Button believes a bracelet he wore in memory of his two stillborn grandchildren gave him an extra push for the win.
    “The bracelet I wore never came off my arm the whole time,” Button said. “I think that was a big help.”
    The tournament, which took place in Buffalo this year, is sponsored by the National Horseshoe Pitching Association and has been held periodically since 1915 and annually since 1946.
    His voice hoarse days later, Button still can’t believe that he won.
    “I didn’t have any intentions to win,” Button said. “I just went up to have fun and say to my grandchildren and everybody else that I shot in the world tournament.”
    Button started pitching horseshoes as a child, but only became serious about the sport seven years ago. Playing horseshoes is also a bonding experience for him and his sons, one of whom also competed in last week’s competition.
    Button’s son, Joe Button, placed seventh in his own class. The father-son team had never before competed in such a large setting.
    “We’ve always just played in the backyard,” said Joe Button, fire chief of the Painted Post Fire Department. “We’re competitive with each other but it’s nothing compared to what’s up there, since you’re playing against the world’s best in your class.”
    Joe Button is proud of his dad.
    “He came right through at the end; he had to throw a ringer on it to win it,” Joe Button said. “We were loud. I thought we were going to get kicked out of there because you’re not supposed to make any noise.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Vickie Button wasn’t able to travel to the tournament held in Buffalo, but she was able to watch her husband and son compete by streaming the tournament online.
    “I typed in ‘National Horseshoe Pitching Association’ online and I got to watch him play,” Vickie Button said. “That was really exciting for those of us who couldn’t make it up.”
    With one championship under his belt, James Button still believes he has some room for improvement before he competes next year in Topeka, Kansas.
    “When I shoot, I cross my legs and that’s what throws me to the right,” he said. “The main thing is to stay straight with your throw.”
    He’ll work on his throw in the local bar league and the Corning Horseshoe League, as well as in his backyard with friends and family. The love of the game keeps him going.
    “It’s just fun,” James Button said. “I can’t play golf - I throw more dirt than I do ball. I just really enjoy it.”

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