The 2002 Grady Whaley autumn classic was held in Elizabethton, TN on September 28-29. Shannon Foster who is the Tennessee Men's champion was a driving force in getting the tournament started. There were 10 players in the Men's championship class. We played 5 games on Saturday evening and the remaining 4 on Sunday afternoon. I hadn't pitched a horseshoe since the World tournament in early August, so I wasn't expecting to pitch my best, but I can normally still pitch pretty decent even after a month or two of not pitching.

I started off pitching against Walter Mullins from KY and he struggled against me. My 2nd match was against Jimmy Broome from South Carolina. He also struggled and I pitched a great game of over 90%. My next game was against 5th vice president of the NHPA, Paul Stewart, who is also the North Carolina state champion. I had a bit of trouble in the game and Paul pitched a very nice steady game and Paul ended up beating me. The next 2 games Ronald Williams of South Carolina and Richard Evans of Tennessee struggled against me and won those games. After the first 5 games I had one loss while Dean Broome, Shannon Foster, and Tom Westbrook were all undefeated. I had the high ringer percentage, but Dean Broome was within one percent of me. Since the tournament is decided on wins and losses I figured that I would need to win the rest of my games to have a chance.

My first match of Sunday was against Randy Hudson of South Carolina. Randy had yet to pitch a good game against me in our previous matches, but this time was different. We both started out slow, but then I threw some ringers to get a good lead. Then I had 6 singles in a row and never really got going after that. Randy pitched a steady game and beat me in a close game 42-37. I didn't pitch a horrible game, but not as well as I would have liked. My next game was against Dean Broome from South Carolina who hadn't lost a game and had the highest average of the other players. He pitched a pretty good game, but I was more on my game and I won easily even though he pitched a better game, 76.4%, than both of the games which beat me earlier. Tom Westbrook from South Carolina was my next victim as I pitched another decent game. Tom now had 2 losses as did I. Shannon Foster and Dean Broome had a great game that same round with Dean winning 42-38 in which they each shot 79%. That meant that Shannon and Dean had one loss each which meant that I needed to beat Shannon, while Tom needed to beat Dean which would have created a 4 way tie for first and would be the only way I had a chance to win the tournament. Shannon and I pitched good games with me coming out on top as I again pitched another good game and Dean came from behind to beat Tom so Dean ended up winning the tournament and I finished 2nd due to my average being higher than Shannon's. I was pretty happy with my pitching, especially my last 3 games.

   Player				Wins Loss Rngr SP   R%
 1.Dean Broome		SC	8  1  387  516	75.00
 2.Walter Ray Williams Jr	FL	7  2  387  494	78.34
 3.Shannon Foster		TN	7  2  430  580	74.14
 4.Randy Hudson		SC	6  3  332  496	66.94
 5.Tom Westbrook		SC	6  3  356  542	65.68
 6.Paul Stewart		NC	4  5  345  514	67.12
 7.Walter Mullins		KY	3  6  296  500	59.20
 8.Jimmy Broome		SC	2  7  272  466	58.37
 9.Ronald Williams		SC	2  7  268  470	57.02
10.Richard Evans		TN	0  9  292  506	57.71

			 My  Opp		      My   Opp
Game	Opponent		 Score   Rngs	Shs	Rngr %
 1.Walter Mullins-TN	40-7	31  22	42  73.81   52.38
 2.Jimmy Broome-SC		44-3	31  18	34  91.18   52.94
 3.Paul Stewart-NC		30-40	34  38	52  65.38   73.08
 4.Ronald Williams-SC	42-7	30  18	40  75.00   45.00
 5.Richard Evans-TN	45-14	32  22   42  76.19   52.38
 6.Randy Hudson-SC		37-42	58  59	80  72.50   73.75
 7.Dean Broome-SC		40-18	61  55	72  84.72   76.39
 8.Tom Westbrook-SC	40-14	44  36   54  81.48   66.67
 9.Shannon Foster-TN	42-21	66  60	78  84.62   76.92
	W-  7  L-  2   360     387  328  494  78.34   66.40
I might play in a horseshoe tournament in MO near KC on the 14th of October when I am there for the bowling tournament, but I haven't set that up yet. After that I don't know when I will pitch in another tournament. I am ready for the tour to start this next week.

Walter Ray