Horseshoes, the original physical distancing game

Staff Reporter

Barry’s Bay – We should never cease to be amazed at the number of remarkable things people do with their time and talents. We can become so busy with our own perspective on the world that we fail to see the enormous number of cultures and subcultures that exist around us. Sometimes the attention given to major league sports can overshadow those sports that are less well known, but ultimately still a lot of fun.

If you are in Barry’s Bay on a Friday evening and happen to pass by the Legion, you may hear in the distance a clanking noise made as metal hits metal. This distinctive noise is the sound of horseshoes hitting the metal stake that sticks up from the sand. The sound of the metal making contact is usually followed immediately by a few cheers and some remarks denoting the hearty congratulations one deserves for obtaining such a fete.

The stakes are set about 40 feet apart and teams throw the horseshoes in an attempt to have them wrap around the stake. Three points are earned for a horseshoe that lands on target and this accomplishment is known as a ringer. If you are skilled enough, or lucky enough, to land two horseshoes on the stake in a row, you will earn six points, also known as a “six pack”. One point is earned for the shoe that lands closest to the stake, even if it does not hit it.

This ability to earn a point for getting close to the target inspired the phrase “…close only counts in horseshoes.” The full saying actually says, “Close don’t count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” The memorable phrase was uttered by baseball player Frank Robinson while commenting on the Orioles during an interview with Time Magazine.

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