A fun parlor game in NBA fan circles is to discuss how the current top player, LeBron James compares to basketball legend Michael Jordan. I wonder if horseshoe fan circles compare up-and-coming pitchers to Canby's Sig Armitage.
I met and wrote about Armitage a few weeks ago and he told me that he would be competing for his third straight state championship on Labor Day. He won his third straight championship on Monday morning.
I know that the Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitchers Association is on a different level than the NBA, but Armitage's statistics are impressive anyway.
Armitage went 7-0 in his games on Monday. Last year he went 5-1 in the championship and 5-0 in 2012.
He had a 69.13 ringer percentage for the tournament, which means that nearly 70 percent of his throws hit the stake. The Canby native also had an 88.88% ringer rate for one game. "It is one of the highest games ever thrown at the state championship," said MGSHPA president Rick Wright.
Armitage's performance was on the same level as one of the greatest games of all time. At the 1965 World Championships Ray Martin and Glen "Red" Henton threw a 89.7% and 90.2% ringer rate respectively in a two-and-a-half hour long game.
The win didn't come easy for Armitage. "I was always coming from behind," he said. However, concentration was the key to his game. "They folded towards the end on most the games and I didn't," he added.
Armitage also won the Frank Stinson award, which is awarded to the top thrower based on tournament play and wins. Armitage said he has been to 26 matches this year. In a few weeks, he'll be playing in the Minnesota state doubles championship tournament. He'll also be heading to Las Vegas for a few matches. "There's no rest for the wicked," he said with a laugh.
To complete the award three-peat, the champ was elected to the MGSHPA hall of fame. Armitage is one of only a few dozen pitchers to receive the honor in the hall's 45-year existence.
While Armitage usually doesn't talk during games, he was excited to be out playing. "Sometimes you couldn't wait to get back to the other side and start throwing again," he said.
The 75-year old Armitage has redefined what it means to be in one's golden years. Some people fill their's with beach sunsets, Armitage just keeps filling up his trophy case.