Al Rosenbohm has been involved with the Cornhusker State Games for almost as long as the games have been in existence.
After the inaugural competitions in 1985, Rosenbohm approached CSG officials about the possibility of adding horseshoe pitching to the games roster.
Every year since, Rosenbohm has headed up this category of competition in the games, as well as participating as a contestant.
Rosenbohm, 78, started pitching horseshoes as a kid in Missouri on the family farm. He moved to Lincoln in 1971 and worked at Sherwin Williams Paint for 29 years, followed by 20 years at Four Seasons Paint. He retired six years ago.
The 1971 move to Lincoln coincided with Rosenbohm’s competitive start in horseshoe pitching, as well as the formation of the Lincoln Horseshoe Club.
Over the years Rosenbohm has competed in city, state and world horseshoe competitions and was named to the Nebraska Horseshoe Hall of Fame in 2008.
As director of the CSG horseshoe competition, Rosenbohm is responsible for finding a location for the competition -- the Horseshoe Pitching Courts, 49th and Francis streets -- promotion of the event, the finding of sponsors and competition registration. The actual dates of the CSG horseshoe competition find Rosenbohm spending some long hours at the pitching courts.
Rosenbohm said the first year of the CSG horseshoe pitching contest involved just singles competition, but it was not long before he added doubles competition.
“Basically the operation of the horseshoe event at the games has not changed much over the years,” he said.
Participants come from all over the state -- Ainsworth, Clarks, Lincoln, Nebraska City, North Platte, Omaha, Valentine -- and can number between 70 and 80, including both amateurs and sanctioned participants, according to Rosenbohm.
Rosenbohm said he tries to make the competition as much fun as possible for everyone. To this point, CSG horseshoe participants are divided into different classes based upon age and experience.
The jovial Rosenbohm gets great satisfaction by helping present horseshoes as a sport across the state so that people can understand how to play and “maybe take that back and organize (horseshoe pitching) in their hometowns.”
“It is exciting to watch the juniors compete at the CSG and grow (in horseshoe experience),” he said. “Especially the expressions on their faces as they get their medallions hung over their shoulders.”
Rosenbohm’s passion for the sport and his volunteer dedication resulted in his receiving the Cornhusker State Games Russ White Memorial Award for Sports Director of the Year in 2001.
And while horseshoes are a major focus for Rosenbohm, coming in a close second is his hobby of making duck calls.
Imprinted with “Al’s Duck Calls,” the carefully crafted and attractive pieces are made for friends and family, reports Rosenbohm. At 10-plus hours per call to make, he says, there is no profit in making them -- “just fun and relaxation” for himself.
A past City Horseshoe Champion, Rosenbohm blithely remarks that he is probably better at making duck calls than pitching horseshoes.
Unlikely. The man knows how to throw ringers.