Tim Fielder, 55, Freddie J. Lewis, 68, and E.Vick, 85, have almost seven decades of combined experience playing the game they all love: horseshoe pitching. They found their place of peace and became comrades at the horseshoe pit behind the San Quentin baseball diamond.
“Our location is where negativity does not happen. The COs know that we are responsible and we keep the area clean,” said three-year SQ resident Lewis, 68. He and his comrades recognize that the pit is also where diversity is welcomed, along with all ages of competitors.
“In this area, things are neutral,” said Fielder, 55. He has been enjoying the peace of the game for all his 12 years at the prison. “There’s no racial tension and we all just come here to get away from all the negative elements that happen around prison.”
The St. Pierre Sports Official Rules manual calls horseshoe pitching the modern sport. The trio agrees that no other sport offers a combination of skill and healthful exercise at such a low cost. It’s a multi-racial sport designed for beginners and the pros to enjoy.
How could this activity, once considered a farmyard sport, end up becoming so popular that people such as these elders play every chance they get?
It could be its recreational style, along with its easy rules and ways to score, that has the people who love the game coming back for more.
No politics or any other iffy topics can come between these three buddies while they are enjoying their sport. Vick assured us that by respecting each other’s views, they don’t allow controversial topics to damage their bond.
They have shared over 20 years of meeting at the SQ pits, throwing the horseshoes and talking trash to each other in good humor.I remember teaching this old guy (Tim) how to play the game. He was just a newbie,” said Vick, the elder of the crew.
“I just wanted to get good at it,” said Fielder.
These older gentlemen now consider this sport a way for them to not only enjoy their time together but for them to get some needed exercise.
“We play through the aches and pains we may have. I’m scheduled for a knee replacement soon, but I still get up and play the game because I love it,” Lewis said. “It’s just a relaxing game where you can just be yourself. It also has helped me with my sobriety.”
All three agree on the health benefits they receive from playing the game. And since none of them can play the more physical sports like baseball, basketball or football, they don’t mind en-joying the luxury of a good horseshoe pitching competition.
“We don’t consider this to be an old man sport,” said Lewis, with a smile. “We beat some youngsters earlier.”
New to SQ for only two months, Cody Camp, 22, was one of the youngsters who competed with the elders.
“It’s quite the experience playing against the OGs,” Camp said, “It’s challenging because they are so good.”
Camp had already been playing horseshoes for five years. He recalled playing the game with his grandfather. Since he is a first termer, being able to play a game that he loves has helped him cope with the many aspects of being in prison.
“Playing the game gets my mind off my past and the reason why I came to prison. It also reminds me of being with my grandfather and my family,” said Camp.
Vick shared that sentiment as he concluded, “It gives you a positive mindset and you are not doing time when you are on the horse-shoe pit.”