'A very productive horseshoe life': Weed's Tony Spada is World Horseshoe Champion
"It’s been a very productive horseshoe life," said Weed's Tony Spada, age 72, who won first place in the B-1 elders class of the NHPA's Horseshoe World Championship last month in Winnemucca, Nev.
Spada, who has lived in Weed for most of his life and has won many local horseshoe competitions over the years, finished the National Horseshoe Pitching Association tournament with a 13-4 overall record, beating Harold Holbrook of Nevada, 40-23, in the July 28 championship to bring home the title.
There were over 700 pitchers in the men's, women's, juniors and cadets' classes, Spada said. He beat out 16 other pitchers in the B-1 elders class from Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Texas.
First held in 1909 with 34 participants, cities from across the U.S. and Canada competitively bid to host the tourney each July for two weeks, according to the tournament's website.
Spada is a Siskiyou County tourney regular
Spada, who has been pitching horseshoes since the 1970s, said this win was his greatest accomplishment in the sport. The event was held at the Winnemucca Sports Complex and featured 48 portable horseshoe courts and 20 practice courts.
"(My) favorite thing about horseshoes is playing with good and better pitchers, cause it makes (me) better," said Spada.
His first win was in doubles at the 1975 Weed Carnevale with Larry Keen. That same day, his dad, Alfonso Spada, won the bocce ball tournament with Ray Acquistapace.
He's won the Weed Carnevale competition several times since then, as well as other local competitions over the years: the Railroad Days tournament in Dunsmuir; the tourney at McCloud's Lumberjack Fiesta; the Johnny Hammon Tournament in Montague; and the Scott Valley Lions Tourney in Fort Jones.
Last year in an NHPA tournament in Oregon, Spada played in six tournaments on clay, instead of the sand he's used to.
"When you play on clay there is no luck, no slides and no tumbles," he said.
Despite the challenge, Spada finished twice in first place, twice in second and twice in third.
He also plays weekly in Weed at Bel Air Park, where tournaments are played Sundays April through October.
To commemorate his Horseshoe World Championship win, Spada was awarded a World Patch and also received a check for $500.
Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth-generation, lifelong Siskiyou County resident.