For almost three decades, Mike Wood has dedicated much of his free time to building up the sport that he loves. Now, that sport has given the Litchfield horseshoe pitcher a little love back.
On Sept. 4, at the Illinois State Horseshoe Tournament in Moline, Wood was inducted into the Illinois State Horseshoe Pitching Association (ILSHPA) Hall of Fame, a tribute to his involvement in the sport over the last 27 years.
As a player, Wood has participated in 17 National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA) World Tournaments, including 13 in a row. He has placed in the top six in his class nine times, including a second place finish in 2004.
That last world tournament Wood missed was in 2007, but according to nominator and fellow 2021 hall of fame inductee Austin Bailey, he might as well have been there.
“I think he called me almost every day wondering how I was doing, as well as checking on his granddaughters, who were pitching that year,” Bailey remembered. “He would want to know how all the Illinois pitchers were doing and I would always give him the update. It was then that I realized how much he loved this sport.”
In addition to his time in the horseshoe pits, Wood volunteers his time as an officer in the ILSHPA, currently serving as president. In addition to recruiting new members to the sport, both juniors and adults, Wood is one of the voices of the members of the Illinois contingent when the national organization meets during the world tournament.
The president of the Crabtree Ringers Horseshoe Club, Wood runs sanctioned tournaments throughout the year at the old Crabtree School grounds, plus doubles tournaments on the third Sunday of every moth. His reach goes well beyond the Litchfield area, though, as he has helped run tournaments in Shelbyville, Springfield and Dow’s horseshoe haven, The Doo Drop Inn.
In Wood’s induction, Bailey also mentioned his commitment to the game in keeping the Palmer Pitching Palace open when it looked as if no one would step up to run it.
“If it was not for this man offering his services to run the Pitching Palace when no one else would, indoor horseshoes in the central part of the state would have been over several years ago,” Bailey said.
An accomplished woodworker, Wood also makes trophies for several tournaments, including the Shelby Autumn, the Bill Marvin Memorial and the Korte Award, which is handed out at the state tournament.
While Wood’s pitching ability and tournament work is clearly visible, Bailey said that Wood’s mentorship is what makes him special.
“If it wasn’t for this man, I would not be the officer I am today. I run every part of the state tournament by him,” said Bailey, who is the state tournament director. “This man is not only a great horseshoe pitcher, but a great mentor and an absolutely great friend. I would not be standing here today without the guidance and knowledge that this man has passed on to me over the years. It is an honor and privilege to induct Mike Wood into the 2021 ILSHPA Hall of Fame.”
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