September 15, 2011 at 10:11 a.m.

Nelson inducted into Horseshoe HoF

Nelson inducted into Horseshoe HoF
Nelson inducted into Horseshoe HoF

Bud Nelson has been pitching and promoting in the sport of horeshoes for over 25 years in the area, and the Lindstrom resident was recently rewarded for that service by being inducted into the Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitcher's Association (MGSHPA) Hall of Fame.

Over Labor Day weekend, Nelson traveled to Genola, MN (near Little Falls) to accept his induction at the annual state tournament banquet.

The nomination, induction and even the ceremony has been one big surprise to Nelson, who began pitching horseshoes in 1984.

Unbeknownst to Nelson, he was nominated for the Hall of Fame as a promoter of the sport by MGSHPA President Rick Wright, and when he found out he was inducted, Nelson was ecstatic.

In speaking of Nelson, Wright said, "He is all about family, either his own or his family of horseshoe pitchers. He is a type of person that if you were new to the sport, he would make you feel welcome."

Nelson was even more thrilled when he made the two-hour plus trip to Genola to find that his five children, along with nine of his grandchildren had also made the trek to watch him be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"I was very surprised when I got the nomination and induction," Nelson humbly said. "It's a great honor, and it was even better when 14 of my kids and grandkids came up also."

Establishing horseshoes in town

Nelson is one of the key factors behind the horseshoe club in Forest Lake. In 1984, he and three other pitchers started playing, and they took out an ad in the local newspaper to recruit more players.

Before they knew it, they had 15 players, which was enough to start a club. They put up their homecourt at the Forest Lake VFW and were there for over 15 years.

However, when Target bought land next to the VFW, the horseshoe club had to find a new place to pitch. Nelson led the charge to relocate the club to what was then Vanelli's on 97 (which is now Stella's).

In a cruel twist, Vanelli's was then sold to a new owner, and Nelson and his crew were forced to look elsewhere for their playing grounds. That didn't deter him, though, as they returned to their roots at the VFW in Forest Lake and their new courts to keep the club going, and in 2011, the club is still going strong.

"On the local level, he has been the driving force that has built the Forest Lake Horsehoe Club not just once, but twice," Wright said.

Although Nelson is being inducted as a promoter, he is quite the pitcher himself, going through a lot of practice to sharpen his skills and playing nearly every weekend.

He said that he's been to the World Tournament a few times, and before he had a few health problems in the last few years, he said just about every weekend was pitching horseshoes.

With his health returning after nearly three years away from pitching, Nelson is reinvigorated at the thought of being able to pitch again when the season comes around next year. "I've really missed it the past few years," he said of his pitching days. "But next year, I'll be back."

And when Nelson does return, he won't just be Bud Nelson the pitcher anymore, he'll be Bud Nelson the Hall of Famer.


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