The History of the U. S. Open Heavy Events Championships 

by Jim Jardine
Athletics Committee member, Caledonian Club of San Francisco

Directory – to go directly to any subsection simply click on the title.  

Personal View
Contributors and Sources
The Caledonian Club of San Francisco
     How it Started
     Recent History
     Santa Rosa
     The McVitie Games
     The U. S. Championships Begin
     On TV at last!
     The World Championships     
  Where did They Come From; Where did They Go?
  The Events and the Awards
  The Records
     Records, showing names and records set by year.
     Record Charts – a graphical display of the plotted data showing how the distances increased
     Overall summary, as it appears in the yearly program 
The Three Principals
     Malcolm Ramsay
     David Webster
     John Ross
Abbreviations and Explanations
Links - to other sites with record info
The End – When a great athlete is put to rest.

Technical note: Please note that this is a long file and will be slow to load if you are using a modem.  To make it a little easier to follow, I have set up all pictures and links to open in a new window.  If you set the two windows somewhat overlapping you can see the enlarged images without waiting for the whole file to re-load after each image.

This is a Work In Progress. Latest update is 12/5/14.  Press your Reload button if you haven't been here for a while.  I expect to add a lot more in the form of the charts and more pictures and I expect to hear from people associated with the sport with corrections, gripes and – I hope – more tidbits of information that will help flesh out this work. Please e-mail your comments to Jim Jardine.  

Major rework sessions

Background is a picture (taken by the author) of Shannon Hartnett doing WOB at the 2002 Pleasanton Games.  Jeff Bain is the judge.


In 1999 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Heavy Events Championship at the Caledonian Club of San Francisco Games. We also saw the first World Heavy Events Championships at Pleasanton. I was the first on the field at 7:00, Saturday, September 4th. I watched the sun peak over the roofs of the eastern buildings, looked back at my own footprints in the dew and wondered what great throws we would witness on this momentous day. I would like to say it was an idyllic setting but the roar of leaf blowers and the sight of people carrying in coolers brought me back to modern reality and I got to work: unlocking the chairs and tables which we had to chain in place so that they wouldn’t be stolen overnight. Surely these are things that you don’t associate with a Scottish Games which are based on ancient traditions!

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For those Games in 1999 I had prepared a chart, showing the progress of the throws in the 25 years since the records have been kept. I found some interesting information and several other people expressed an interest as well. I began to collect more information and contacted various people for more background. It was a good time as most of the participants from early on in this great play are still among the living and therefore fairly easy to contact.

For those readers who have not been involved personally with these Heavy Events, I can only say that there is a magnet here, a desire to make it to these Games, a respect between the athletes and the officials, an appreciation of the rigid time schedule, which brings a great deal of excitement for first-timers and that is still there in our longest repeat performers of 35 years. Also for “outsiders”, you might want to check section Abbreviations and Explanations, for a better understanding of our somewhat arcane terminology.

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Personal View

I can say from this history, from our Games Souvenir Programmes (referred to here as simply “games programs”) and from my personal experience as a member (since 1992) and a past officer of the Club, that one of the primary characteristics of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco is that of continuity. We would not be the oldest continuous Games in the U.S. if there weren’t always a proper set of checks and balances in place, if Past Chiefs didn’t stay around to become trustees or manage chairs on the Games Committee and if the same corps of hundreds of volunteers didn’t come back each year, eager to help. 

In the true Scottish tradition we have differences of opinion, a tendency to be “clannish” (what else!?!), some behind-the-scenes manipulations, political intrigue, and officer positions that are hotly contested during annual elections. In spite of this there is an enormous esprit de corps that keeps it all running smoothly down the track.

This might give an outsider the impression of a huge, unstoppable pipe band marching down the highway of history with blinders firmly in place. Quite the contrary: like all Scotsmen, this is a group of practical guys. I have seen very far out ideas presented to the Club that were accepted immediately, owing to the presentation of a reasonable argument. Another interesting custom is that of inviting people who are at odds with the Club to join. It is truly amazing how an “outsider” changes both his own viewpoint as well as that of the Club as they both see the other side from the inside. 

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Contributors and Sources

Principal contributors to this work have been P.C.* Malcolm Ramsay, John Ross and David Webster, OBE. Please click on their names for brief biographies. I have drawn freely from the material they furnished me and – with the exception of direct quotes – it is interwoven in the text.

Other sources include the unpublished work, The Caledonian Club of San Francisco - The First Hundred Years, by R. S. MacCollister, F.S.A. Scot, CCSF 1966; many Games Souvenir Programs; a thick stack of old Games results from Malcolm Ramsay’s files and, for more recent records, 56# Notes and its predecessor, The Heavy Events News, the journals of the Scottish American Athletic Association; and my own records snatched from the helpful hands of Diane North, our chief scorekeeper. Please see the bibliography for these and other listings.

* P.C. stands for Past Chief, an honorific bestowed upon past Club Chiefs, and out of respect for this position they are addressed as such during club meetings and other formal occasions.

Limited Scope

I have tried to present here an inside look at this competition. I have fleshed out the stark numbers involved in a typical records chart and enhanced the picture where I could with copies of the actual documents and photos. I think you will enjoy seeing some of the evolution that led to today’s somewhat rigidly structured, computer-age competition.  

What I cannot do within a document of this size is show the whole story of the Scottish Heavy world. I cannot track down all of the other Championships, I can’t follow the career of each athlete, name every official, and so on. And I especially beg the pardon of throwers I know personally whose names do not appear.

But I do hope that the reader can see that what we have at Pleasanton today was not thrown together overnight, has not been a fixed pattern forever, and has been hammered out by the dint of the efforts of many caring people and will continue this way on down the stony road of Heavy Events. 

A background on how the current state of affairs has come about could either inundate both researcher and reader in a mass of details or leave such glaring gaps as to make the reader question why the writer even bothered. I hope I have hit a happy medium.

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The Caledonian Club of San Francisco

No history of the Heavy Events and the currently defined Championships would be complete without a brief history of the organization that provides the venue as well as the traditions; the Caledonian Club of San Francisco.  Of course, to keep this account concise and germane, this must be mostly a history of the athletics within the Caledonian Club.  We have been an active Club with a regular, annual Games longer than any other association in the United States.  Emily Ann Donaldson, the author of The Scottish Highland Games in America, submitted this (this too) to our program manager for publication in 1984.

How it Started

As can be seen from our current series of Games Souvenir Programs, our Club is constantly digging up past events to show how the various activities came about. This is handled by the individual chairmen and the program editor on a year-to-year basis.

According to The Caledonian Club of San Francisco - The First Hundred Years, by R. S. MacCollister, F.S.A. Scot; on the evening of November 24, 1866 a group of 17 Scotsmen gathered in the Ale Vaults in San Francisco on a dark and stormy night. They met behind closed doors in a smoke-filled room and decided to have a games.

Currently we have a Games Committee that meets almost every month of the year. This first group met but once and decided on a Games on the Thursday – only five days away. So on Thanksgiving Day of 1866, in Hayes Park (around Van Ness and Hayes St. in current San Francisco), the games at which our current Championships take place were born.

Now to the nitty-gritty of throwing big stuff around.  The listed events (all of them) were: quoits, throwing the light and heavy hammers, putting the stone, hop-step-and-jump, running leap, running high leap, the blindfolded wheelbarrow race, and the three-legged race. And we even have some baseline distances. I have left out the distances for the other events that are no longer practiced. Suffice it to say that there was a lot more variety and more loose participation in the beginning and even 100 years later than we have today.  All of the throws from the following text are summarized in this table.

Implement Wt year athlete distance
hammer 12# 1866 A. F. MacDonald 92’
hammer 16#  1866 A. F. MacDonald 78’ 6”
Stone putt  26# 1866 G. Scott  22’ 1”
Caber ? 1867  C. Chisholm
Stone putt  22# 1867  W. McLean 26’ 1”
Stone putt 16# 1868  ? ?
Light ball ? 1883 D. Dinnie 45’ 5”
Heavy ball ? 1883 D. McMillan 33’ 2”
hammer  16# 1883 D. Dinnie 112’
hammer 22# 1883 D. McMillan 78’ 10”
hammer 12# 1884 103’ 11”
Light hammer ? 1888 114’ 8”
hammer 21# ?? M. Sherridan  109’ 9”
hammer 21# 1918 J. McEachran 117’ 4”

A quote from MacCollister sums up the next couple of years: “There was an improvement in later years over most of these distances and records.”

Back to the Caledonian Club: before the next Games, on Thanksgiving Day of 1867, the Club had been formalized and was up to 95 members, many sharing membership in the San Francisco St. Andrew’s Society, which had formed in 1863. With more time to plan there was a lot more press coverage and the Games were held near Mission Dolores. To the activities above were added: putting the 22# stone, caber toss, 100 yards dash, race – men over 45, hitch and kick, 300 yard race, best piper. MacCollister points out that there was no Highland Dancing (and it was men only when it did come about) and only the one piping event.

The caber for that year was too big to turn by any of the contestants so it was split, not cut off on one end, as is today’s practice. Imagine this beast that you thought you might turn with a little more oomph, now splintered and lopsided. But it was turned, by one Christopher Chisholm, who became the Chief of the Club in 1893.

The 1868 Games were held in Sausalito, whence the drawing that always appears in our games program. Added events were a light stone, the Highland Fling, hurdle race and sack race.

Here Mr. MacCollister’s work angles away from the details that interest us from a Heavy Events point of view. He does come back to describe some of the athletes, however.

“1871 was the year of Andrew Foreman,” he writes.  Foreman had medals from Scotland, Boston and New York, was the Second Chieftain of the Club and “as usual took off many of the medals offered.” In 1872 Foreman introduced his son, Andrew Foreman, Jr., who at 13 was apparently quite formidable. There was at least one more Foreman son who also became prominent in the Heavy Events. This was also the year that the Club was incorporated.

In 1883 Donald Dinnie, the “Champion Heavy-Weight Athlete of the World”, was in San Francisco for several sporting engagements. On 5/26/1883 he competed in the Caledonian Club Games in the daytime only to rush over to the Grand Opera House where he was to meet William Muldoon, the US wrestling champion. It was the only day that the match could be arranged. Dinnie did well at the Games but not too well at the match! 

This 1883 section might seem a bit lengthy, but it has several elements of our current heavy events: heavy competition from outsiders, a wide variety of events, fairness limitation imposed by the committee and a large attendance – over 5,000. Also there was a youth event, not the various sizes of youth caber we have today, but a hammer throw: “Throwing light hammer by members sons under 16 years – Charles Reid, 50 feet and 4 inches…”

In the San Francisco Chronicle for May 27,1883 we find that Dinnie indeed threw quite well, and we have some more baseline distances: (see table for comparisons)

Light ball


D Dinnie

45’ 5”

Heavy ball


D McMillan

33’ 2”

16# hammer


D Dinnie


22# hammer


D McMillan


(there was no distance given for Dinnie on this)

Note: hammers had 4’ long stiff handles

An interesting point was made in the same article: Dinnie apparently entered every contest at the Thistle Games (on May 12th) and won most of them. The CCSF committee would not allow this, stating: “…it was not fair for a professional to contend against the ordinary members who merely play the game for exercise.”  However there was no such limitation put on Dinnie’s traveling companion, Duncan A. McMillan, who placed in the top four in nine events, won two and came in second to Dinnie in three. Between the two there would be a nice chunk of prize money.

In his book, Donald Dinnie, The First Sporting Superstar, David Webster tells us that the US light hammer record for that period was 102’ and that Dinnie did a demo throw of 113’ 8” elsewhere in San Francisco. The Chronicle also gave his best light hammer at 138’ 8”, but this would have been with a flexible handle already in use in Scotland. Dinnie’s other records in the same article were 22# hammer 104’ 6”; 16# stone putt 54’ 6”; 22# stone 43’ 10” and several track records.

Other competitors listed (finishing in the top four) were Thomas Scott, Alexander Copeland and J. A. Carmichael. The other heavy event was the caber, and the order of finishing was Dinnie, McMillan, Copeland and Carmichael. We also find that A. Foreman won a handicap race for men over 45, with D. A. Foreman placing in the top four of five track events.

Another article on 8/19/1883 reports on the Thistle Club Games on Saturday 8/18 with details of the prize winners. There were many track events, and only one “heavy” event, the light hammer: 

Light hammer   1883   A. Copeland   111' 6” (Thistle Club, not CCSF throw) 

Assuming it was the same hammer, Copeland must have practiced during the summer because his hammer in May was only 98’ 4”.

There may have been as many as three Foremen entered in running events at these Games: A., D.A., and A. B. Foreman – there could also have been typos, but it appears that the Foreman family was still in the running. 

In our 1984 program there was a copy of the program from 1884: Pages 1 and 2Pages 3 and 4. which shows the following as standard Heavy fare for athletes:
- Putting Heavy Stone
- Throwing Light Hammer
- Throwing Light Hammer For Members’ Sons (Under 16 Years)
- Throwing Heavy Hammer
- Tossing The Caber

As there are no light and heavy “balls” mentioned here, those above most likely were stones. Dinnie’s light (16#) stone record at the time was 54’ 6”.  This distance was published in the San Francisco Chronicle of 1883, but it's accuracy has been questioned.

Notice that the judges (three of them) handled track and field events as well. See the images for other details of events, athletic and other. 

A note here about other Caledonian Clubs. According to MacCollister there were no less than ten Caledonian Clubs in California in the early 1900’s; even a Caledonian Club of Berkeley! Today there are many Scottish groups and Games, but only Sacramento and San Francisco retain the Caledonian Club in their names in California. The San Francisco Club, along with many others, belonged for many years to the North American United Caledonian Association. 

One of the Association’s prerequisites was that member organizations follow the rules of the Association in the games they put on. MacCollister again: “Which came first, the Caledonian Club Games Rules, or the Association’s rules is unknown. What is significant is that even in the 1896 book of by-laws of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, the rules of the Games are almost word for word and in the same order as the rules of the Association in its 1878 book.” So the concept of fairly standard throwing rules has been around for better than a century at least.

On to other athletes. Here are portions of MacCollister’s athlete highlights up thru 1966.”The athletes who have stood out in competition over the years are far too many for inclusion here … Tom Carroll, Sr., of Alameda County (East Bay) was holder of all the world’s records for the weights events and the hammer in the 1880s. William P. Grant, a Nova Scotian …(whose) name graced the winner’s column at many a Games (in the late 1880s) … Donald Dinnie, the all around athlete of Scotland at one time, competed in the early days …” (see more on Dinnie above.)

From a program we find another note on Carroll: “At ago 60 he came out of retirement for one last appearance at the 46th Games in 1911, to finish 3rd in the 16# hammer behind first-place winner, Tom Carroll, Jr.

“But the athlete who … most deserves mention is James McEachran. Jim joined the Club July 15, 1910...” He broke the world’s 21# hammer record in 1918 with a throw of 117’ 4”, bettering the 109’ 9” held by Mike Sherridan of New York. “…McEachran was still winning points in competition at age 65.” (see table)

Heavy hammer (21lb) ??   M. Sherridan    109’ 9” (world’s, not CCSF throw)
“         “             “     1918 J. McEachran  117’ 4”

MacCollister goes on to credit McEachran for “… giving the final winning argument in the Club, after WWII, when the caber toss was discussed and revived for the Games in San Rafael in 1949.” That’s certainly a surprise, with no mention earlier of why or when the caber competition was stopped. 

Perhaps David Webster’s insight, as stated in our 1999 games program might be the answer: “A whole generation of fine young men were victims of the inhumane, bloody slaughter of World War I. Amongst some 10,000,000 killed were an incredible number from the Scottish regiments who fought and died in the trenches. All that remained of the Flowers of Scotland are their names carved in stone on the hundreds of monuments in Scottish towns and villages, and in volume after volume of the heroes' names preserved in the archives of Edinburgh Castle. It took a long time to produce a new generation of athletes and just when interest was high and standards improving, the carnage started all over again with World War II. After two world wars the heavy events had all but died at the Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Games where the 'heavies' consisted of a stone put, a makeshift hammer throw, and the ever popular caber toss.”

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Recent History

In sharp contrast to the 1866-68 Games, the Club program for 1948 (only 20 pages, ~15 with sponsors ads, but was free of charge) shows 9 highland dancing and 8 piping competitions for prizes, and 17 track events with six officials, some included on this copy of the back inside cover where we see absolutely no trace of heavy events. So these war years left the “Games” almost entirely bereft of anything involving heavy stuff. 

The 1960 program shows this as the total amount of athletic competition available for the participants. But there was a cash award: Tossing the Caber: 1st, $7.50; 2nd, $5.00; 3rd, $2.50. Compare this with the lowest prizes for dancing of $10, $7.50 and $5. The five track events were awarded medals. Malcolm Ramsay joined the Club this year. The Games were held in Petaluma, California.

Here is a collection of articles that John Ross gathered from the Petaluma public library and sent to me many years back, probably after the 2007 update.  It describes the Games (from a reporter's point view, as John points out) that occurred in Petaluma from 1950 thru 1962.

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Santa Rosa

Even tho' the Games were held in Petaluma for several years (1950 thru 1961), in 1962 the Club stopped their seemingly endless wandering and settled down at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California, for the next 32 years. This was a full generation and many people simply associated Santa Rosa and the Caledonian Club Games as one, not knowing of the almost gypsy-like trek the Games had taken over the previous 96 years. Recalling the effort I witnessed in the move from Santa Rosa to Pleasanton, I asked Malcolm Ramsay what his part was in the move from Petaluma to Santa Rosa and he lamented, “I was not involved. In fact my car broke down in Garberville on my way back from Canada and so was stuck up there until after Labor Day that year.”

Altho' records were not kept in this period, there is, indeed, a record in the form of the annual updates to the McClure's Caber trophy.  It was first awarded in 1960 to Al Jongewaard, a school mate and friend of John Ross.  This table gives the winners thru 1974, and the years following are recorded in the text:

1960-62 Al Jongewaard

G02McCluresTr.jpg (11614 bytes)

1963 John Nichols
1964 Mike Reid
1965 John Nichols
1966 Bob Slanec
1967-68 John Ross
1969 Al Jongewaard
1970 Mike Gilligan
1971 John Ross
1972 Stan Russell
1973 Mike Gilligan
1974 Gordon Varnedoe

By 1968 (the next available program) we find a full writeup about Tossing the Caber as well as this ad from Ballentine’s Scotch that appears inside the front cover.  Missing the earlier programs I obtained this comment from Malcolm “The Ballantine’s Trophy was started (I think) on our Centennial year (1966). P.C. Frank Love was the Caber judge and he worked for Hiram Walker who was the distributor for Ballantine’s. I am sure he arranged it.”

For the athletic schedule we see the following: Saturday and Sunday, With five trophies being awarded.

And there are two chairs for athletics: Horace H. Crow, Jr., Chairman – Track and Field Events, and James Cullen, Chairman – Caber Event. Malcolm Ramsay was in his first officer position, Sergeant-at-Arms.

This gives a very brief background of what was going on in the years just prior to the McVitie Games and the scene is set for the next available program, 1971.

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The McVitie Games

1971 is the year when the new era truly begins. David Webster brought a group of Scottish performers, including athletes, to San Francisco for a demo Highland Games during British Week.  David and Malcolm Ramsay first met at the British Consulate where those involved with British Week met to discuss the program. David was representing McVitie’s and Malcolm the Calie Club.

The McVitie’s Highland Games were held at the Polo Grounds in San Francisco on October 2nd and 3rd 1971, in the style of the traveling troupe of entertainers. At the close of the Games Caledonian Club Chief Malcolm Ramsay arranged for the purchase of some of the implements from the Scotsmen. David Webster explains it this way, “When I was organising these games I had to buy some equipment and also borrow some to take to America. We were keen to help Malcolm develop the ‘heavy’ side of the games and it did not take much persuasion or cash for us to leave some items behind.” David also states that, as a part of the deal, he received a medal – normally given to athletes – which he treasures to this day. 

You can see the whole McVitie's Program here.  The new implements were Bill Anderson’s 28# weight for distance and 56# weight for height.  Note that John Ross, Mike Gilligan and Thomas Fraus are listed as “guest athletes.”  We also received the McVitie’s Trophy as a donation.  As a tribute during the 30th competition celebration in 2004 we renamed the McVitie's trophy the P/C Malcolm Ramsay trophy.

So here begins the year-by-year time line. Note that each major official for the year is listed in the same format with material derived from the games programs. This being a Caledonian Club document, the Chief is always listed.

The Records Charts can only show when new records have been set and who set them. They cannot show who came in second, who came for the first time and won across the board vs those who worked their way up slowly. I have tried to do that in the time line, but again it is limited by space and if I give too much detail it can turn off even the most assiduous sports numbers nut. Hence I have only referred to the top few contenders in each class, and usually only if they stayed in the game thru the Pro or Open class. While I have the results sheets for most years, they are not in e-text format and scanning and posting them would require a lot of time and web space. I have included a Judge’s Tally Sheet from 1975 and Malcolm Ramsay’s neat results chart from 1993. If any reader has a need for a specific year and athlete I will be glad to attempt to help out.

1971 – Chief – Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field Events – Horace Crow, Caber Judge – P.C. Frank Love; according to John Ross around 9 or 10 athletes competed during these years. In trophies the 30-kilometer run is no longer listed. John also says that medals and trophies only were awarded in this period, no cash prizes.

Events are: 
1:00 Caber Toss Eliminations McClure Trophy
Hammer Throw and 35 lb. weight
1:30 440 yard dash 
1:50 One mile run 
2:00 Ballentine Caber Toss

Malcolm: “Prior to 1971 Santa Rosa had three events for the Heavy athletes. They were a light stone, a hammer made with a coffee can filled with lead and a steel pipe handle and a caber sent from Scotland by Ballentine’s Whisky and authenticated by the Royal Braemar Society.”

JRoss-03-S.jpg (182793 bytes) Here is John Ross with very hammer described

Here is the ad for the McVitie Games from the back cover of the program.

1972 – Chief – Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field Events – Horace Crow, Caber Judge – P.C. Frank Love, 9~10 athletes compete, 5 trophies are listed.

Now we see how the McVitie’s Games and the acquisition of the Scottish implements created a great boost in the athletic events: (extracted from the overall schedule)
11:00 Putting the Stone, throwing the Scottish Hammer & 28 # weight 
1:00 Tug of War Eliminations 
2:00 Caber Toss for McClure’s Trophy, and to qualify for Sunday’s Caber Toss 
10:30 5,000 meter walk 
1:05 Tug of War – Semi-finals 
1:15 440 yard dash 
1:25 One mile run
1:40 56 lb. Weight over Bar for height 
2:00 Tug of War – Finals 
2:10 Ballentine Caber Toss 

However, under Judging there is no mention of Heavy Events per se.  In addition to the above, the list of judges includes  Tug of War under P.C. Charles Beresford. But we see for the first time in this period an explanation of the Heavy Events and the history of the McVitie Games and trophy.

1973 – Chief – James W. Jacobs, Track and Field Events – Horace Crow, Caber Judge – P.C. Frank Love, 9~10 athletes compete, 5 trophies. 

We finally see an athlete’s picture in the program, here is Stan Russell  tossing the caber. But we shouldn’t feel slighted, as this was the first program to have pictures of anything but the Chief. This program is still in a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 format with no color, no page numbers and costing all of 50˘.

1974 – Chief – James W. Jacobs, Track and Field Events – Horace Crow, Caber Judge – P.C. Frank Love, 9~10 athletes compete, 5 thropies.

Working with David, and with a sponsorship from British Caledonian Airways, Malcolm brought James MacBeath and Charlie Simpson from Scotland to compete at the Games at Santa Rosa. They also brought a 16# hammer and demonstrated the proper and traditional way to throw the weights and hammers.”  Prior to this year two-handed throws for the weights had been allowed, but this, too, faded slowly, see 1975 thru 1977.  In the process Jim MacBeath threw the light hammer 129’ 4.

It was later discovered that the hammer – a gift of the Highland and Island Tourist Board – was slightly under weight! It was replaced in 1976.  The events listed in the program were the same as 1972 except for minor changes in times. But the format begun in 72 begins to look more organized. And the Heavy Events have that now familiar “Tally Sheet” for the public to note the winners on the page in the program.

JRoss-02-S.jpg (182890 bytes)

Prior to 1975 athletics were a casual affair with walk-ons the rule and no records were kept except for the engraving on caber trophies. But in the 1975 results sheet there are “New Record” notes by four of the throws. Malcolm Ramsay has this comment, “I think the first year that Charlie Simpson & Jim MacBeath came I started to keep records. Also in those days I sent a copy of the results to all competitors after the games. As new implements were obtained (hammers & weights) these records appeared on the result sheets.” 

- John Ross: “James MacBeath…and Charlie Simpson came to Santa Rosa in 1974 and brought 28, 56 and real hammers for the CCSF to keep and use. So from 1974 on the games had all of the events.”
- The maximum paid for the winning professional athlete was $600.
- Note that Chief Jacobs was a long distance runner and competed on an international level.

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The U. S. Championships Begin

1975 – Chief – Thomas Fraser, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Judge – Horace Crow, 7 athletes compete (officially).  Santa Rosa became a “hot spot” for Heavy Events.  Word spread both in the U.S. and abroad that here was a place where the athletes were treated properly, "real" Scottish implements were available and prize money was paid to the Professional class. To the trophy list was added the McVitie’s Perpetual Trophy for “Best Athlete in Scottish Events – Hammer Stone, 28 & 56 Lb. Weights, McVitie’s Biscuits, Scotland, Donor.” 

Malcolm: “In 1975 the quality of competition at Santa Rosa was such that they were recognized as the U. S. Championships, both in the Open (Professional) Class and in the Amateur Class. In the early days Saturday’s contest was for the Northern California Championships and the two-day total was for the U. S. Championships. In 1977 we 'donated' the Northern Calif. Championships to (I think) the Monterey Games because the results show that in 1977 we only listed our Games as the U. S. Scottish Heavy Events Championships.” 

And Gordon Varnedoe adds his point of view: "In the early 70s most Highland Games competitions were made up of local athletes and there was no venue for the best competitors to vie for the title of U. S. Champion.  Discussing this with Athletic Chairman Malcolm Ramsay both of us recognizing that: 1. the Caledonian Club games were one of the oldest and largest Games in North America, and 2. Coming on Labor Day weekend, most American Games would be complete and the best competitors from each region would be known, so the decision was made to hold the U. S. Championship at our Games. 

"With Ballantine’s Scotch’s sponsorship it was possible to have the champions from Scotland (Bill Anderson and later Grant Anderson), the champion from Canada (Dave Harrington), the Australian Champion (Colin Mathieson) and the champions from the East Coast (Bob Porterfield, Fred Vaughn, and Ron Short). Brian Oldfield, the world champion shot putter, accepted the challenge and was a real showman. The crowds loved it and the Athletes loved it . 

"Horace Crow was a seasoned Track and Field Official and was serious about going by the rule book . He was fair and all of the athletes respected him. Malcolm Ramsay, with a background in Cycling, was keen to run a good competition. 

"As a Past Chief, Malcolm was also happy to see the credibility the U. S. Championship brought to the Club and the growth of the Club's reputation in America and in Scotland. 

"As a former competitor and winner of the McClure and Ballantine’s Caber Championships, I very much enjoyed being around the World's best Games Athletes and also helping with the announcing and sponsors. I have very fond memories of witnessing new Games records and being part of a Golden Era in the history of the Caledonian Club Games."

This year Brian Oldfield began his slow but steady increase on the light (17# 6oz) stone. All listed competitors were American born.  From this point on the records can be found on the charts as seen below. John Ross won the McVitie’s trophy for “best athlete over two days” and tied with Ron Short of North Carolina for the Northern California Championship.  Here are the hammer scores from the original judges field sheets, and the Saturday and Sunday  summaries that show who got what points for their individual throws (note, these three sheets have been run thru a high-tech procedure called DPET, or "Dark Pencil Enhancement Technique", prior to scanning), and here is the first of Malcolm's record summaries.  For more on the athletes for this first year see the section Where did They Come From; Where did They Go?

Your author’s comment here about these results: ours is but one of hundreds of games around the world, and these athletes competed in many of them, so what you see is but a sample of any athlete’s throws for that year. Of course, as an invitational championship, people have worked hard to get here.

As I first got this beast on-line, one of my reviewers was Dale Harder, author of Strength and Speed, and a fellow "C" class (novice) competitor in my few years of trying, and who still signs up and does his stuff at the smaller games today.  See the comment below about encouraging try outs and walk-ons, and see the tally sheets from this year.  Dale threw this first year at Santa Rosa, but was one of the "casuals" and was not included in the "real" competition list.

Events were: 17# 6oz stone, 28# WFD, 16# Scottish hammer, 56# WOB-one handed and cabers.  There were also two-handed throws allowed for the Northern California competition thru at least 1977.  Brian Oldfield threw an impressive 123' 3" light hammer this year, but on the 1976 summary the existing record holder is shown as Jim MacBeath, with the 129' 4" seen above.  So while the official, kept and stored records start in 1975, there was carryover from the old days.

These were the recorded winners as seen in the games program and that format is followed throughout. Click here for the complete list.

Note: clicking on "Class" on any of these tables will bring up the records summary for the five-year segment it falls in.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber JRoss-01-S.jpg (142929 bytes) Click image to see John Ross and P.C. Frank Love in John's winning 1975 caber toss. Click here for the text used for 1976 publicity.
US Pros B Oldfield  B Oldfield J Ross
Nor Calif. J Ross J Ross  J Ross

1976 – Chief – Thomas Fraser, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Judges: nf, 9 athletes compete. 

First year for the 56# weight for distance and two classes: amateur and open. The Braemar style is applied to the 17# 6oz stone, so these appear  as two events on the records.  This year also brought a properly weighted 16# hammer and the importing of a 22# hammer as well as a 56# for distance. The Ballantine’s caber is recorded as 18’ x 125#, and the Northern California Championship caber is 17’ x 100#.

This was Bill Anderson's first competition here and he won the 56# WFD with 34’ 7” and continued to hold the record until Grant Anderson bettered it in 81. Brian Oldfield’s 123’ 3” light hammer from 1975 was truly shattered by Bill Anderson’s 132’ 3.5” this year, but as Bill held the World's light hammer record of 151' 2" since 1970 this throw was no surprise.  In second place was Brian Oldfield and 3rd, Keith Tice.  The Amateur 2nd place went to Brett Mannon, Mike Simms and Sepp Braun, from Canada, almost tied for 3rd.  The Saturday Northern California contest had the same order of winners.

With the Scottish competition of such high caliber entering the newly founded Championships, this was the first year of an “official” division between Professional and Amateur classes. John Ross: “In 1976 Bill Anderson came for the first of many trips to Santa Rosa. He and Grant Anderson, Douglas Edmunds, Brian Robin, Geoff Capes were the ‘early Scots’ in Santa Rosa.”

Class Overall  WOB  Caber 1977BA-S.jpg (95556 bytes) Click here for the publicity blurb that goes with the picture
Pros   B. Anderson B. Oldfield B. Anderson
Amateur   D. Shelton D. Shelton S. Braun

1977 – Chief – Ian E. Dow, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Judges: nf, 12 athletes compete, 9 trophies, including the two for the one-mile run and 440 yd dash. Here’s the tally sheet and explanation.

Both one- or two-handed throws were still allowed for Weight over the Bar for Amateurs, but the Open class competitors used only one hand. The 56# WFD was reported as actually weighing 56# 4oz and the 56# for WOB was 8oz heavy.   This reporting continued until 1982 when either the implements were fixed or the error was left off of the summaries!

Bill Anderson (who received his M.B.E this year) took the field, in spite of Brian Oldfield’s record 15’ 6” on the WOB on Saturday (see pictures below).  This was our first visit by Colin Mathieson, who can be seen, along with all of the other athletes, and their autographs, on this page and this one.   Bill Anderson and Brian Oldfield battled it out for first place and were only one point apart on the aggregate on Saturday and 38 to 32 on Sunday.  Keith Tice was 3rd, with Fred Vaughn and Mathieson tying for 4th.

Dave McKenzie entered the amateur field and began his 22-year career of long-held records in the Amateur division, moving over to Open in 1990.   This first year he took Shelton's 1976 light stone of 36' 3 to a great 47' 10.5 and held this record for five years.  Dave also tied John Ross's 1975 two-handed WOB at 13'.  Shelton threw one-handed and set a baseline mark of 12' 6" for Amateur, and improved his previous hammer by nine feet, then he added seven feet to Brett Mannon's 54' 1.25 in the 28# WFD for two new field records for each, to finish with Shelton 1st, McKenzie 2nd and McLain a rather distant 3rd.  In the Open class were 3 from California, 1 from back east and 3 international.  John Ross notes, "Keith Tice develops into the best US Scottish Games competitor, and Fred Vaughn is outstanding, too."

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

Scotch.jpg (69203 bytes)

Chief Ian Dow presides at "awards" time.
Pros   B Anderson B Anderson B Anderson
Amateur   D Shelton D Shelton D Shelton

1978 – Chief – Ian E. Dow, Heavy Events – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field Events- Horace Crow, Jr., Caber Toss – P.C. Frank Love, Judges: nf, 15 athletes compete, Gordon Varnedoe was co-chair. Malcolm Ramsay wrote up an interesting description of the competition.

Bill Anderson set three new records and almost took all in spite of severe jetlag. Bill was so far ahead that it is worth noting the aggregate scores: Bill, 91, Brian Oldfield 43, Keith Tice, 42.   In the shadow of the Anderson-Oldfield shootout we still see continued competition from Ron Short and Fred Vaughn from the Carolinas, Keith Tice (3rd overall) and Gordon Varnedoe.  See the details in this article page 1 and  page 2 from the 1992 program. The 1978 bit is in the second link.  Brian Oldfield won the WOB and then attempted to better the world record of 16' 1" but did not make it.

In the Amateur area Dick Shelton took the field, with Bob McKay and Jan DeSoto in 2nd and 3rd places.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

BO-02-S.jpg (69403 bytes)

BOWOB-S.jpg (88703 bytes)

Pros  B. Anderson B. Oldfield B. Anderson
Amateur  D. Shelton D. Shelton D. Shelton

1979 – Chief – David J. Wright, Athletic Chairmen – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay and Gordon Varnedoe, Track and Field Events- Horace Crow, Jr., Caber Toss – P.C. Frank Love, Judges: nf, 19 athletes compete, 10 trophies are listed, in addition to the 2nd and 3rd place plaques, giving 20 awards total. 

The 5th anniversary Games saw the first visit from another Scottish athlete: Grant (no relationship) Anderson, as well as the return of James MacBeath and Charlie Simpson.  From the program we have some background on these two. Brian Oldfield set the 62’ 8.5” light stone record that has yet to be beat.  

A note is in order here: this throw was never 63' 1".  The 63' 1" - as far as I can determine - was made at the Campbell Games that same year.  The 62' 8.5" info was in the programs for 81, 82 and 83 and in the results summaries for 1980 and 81, but suddenly (and forever) shows up in the 82 results sheets and in the 84 program as being 63' 1".  Malcolm Ramsay: "I have gone over my records and the 63'-1" record was not set at Santa Rosa. I guess is that it may have been set at Campbell (as rumor has it) and was recognized as a record at Santa Rosa because they used the same stone. Only a guess. I think we should report the SR/Pleasanton record as the 62'-8+ in future programs."  Also see John Ross's note about the origin of the stones.  This was Brian's last year competing at these games.  He was plagued with problems with the AAU revoking his amateur standing in track and field due to his throwing as a pro in Scottish competition.

This was the first year for the awarding of the Chief’s Trophy  which is awarded to a different segment of the Games each year. The history of this trophy is quite interesting in itself. In this first year it went to the Heavy Events and the award was shared by Brian Oldfield and Grant Anderson, who made the only tie to date in the overall in the Open Class.  In 3rd place was Fred Vaughn and Keith Tice 4th.

In the Amateur class Bob (later Rob or Coach Mac) MacKay set a 61’ 11.5” record with the 28# WFD which held up for four years, tying with Dick Shelton for 2nd behind Dave McKenzie who left them 20 aggregate points behind.  Greg Boriero was in 4th, and Sepp Braun, though low on points, took the caber.  In Malcolm's writeup (next paragraph) Dave is described as "an Olympic hopeful."

In amongst the records was the second of Malcolm’s throw-by-throw reports: Page 1 and Page 2, wherein he mentions that the 1980 Games will be by invitation only.  In the program we see the first shot at getting the previous records to the public. In this version it is combined with the event descriptions.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

BO-03.jpg (224607 bytes)

<Checking the WOB height. G Anderson on caber>

GAndersonCaber-s.jpg (269063 bytes)

Pros   G. Anderson/ B. Oldfield tie B Oldfield G. Anderson
Amateur   D. McKenzie D McKenzie S. Braun

1980 – Chief – David J. Wright, Heavy Events – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field Events - Horace Crow, Jr., Caber Toss – P.C. Frank Love, Judges: nf, 18 athletes compete. (no program available) 

Bill Anderson won in all three categories. 26# stone put ‘Braemar style’ was used for first time.  While cleaning house for the last time, Bill set three new records, but this was also his last record-setting year at Santa Rosa.  Bill beat Grant by four aggregate points with Vaughn and Harrington a distant 3rd and 4th.

Dave McKenzie took the Amateur again, set four new marks and now held all but the 28# WFD records in the Amateur class.  At 35' 11" his benchmark Braemar even beat Bill Anderson's Pro shot by three feet.  Following Dave was John Sells and Dave Albritton (who also won the caber), 2nd and 3rd.  

This was the first year for the World Highland Games Heavy Events Championships (WHGHEC), which were held in Los Angeles and won by Grant Anderson. For a full list of the WHGHECs click here.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

DMK-02.jpg (116719 bytes)

Whatever the discussion was about, we can see who won the trophy!
Pros   B Anderson B Anderson B Anderson
Amateur   D McKenzie D McKenzie D Albritton

1981 – Chief – John Dickson, Heavy Events – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field Events - Horace Crow, Jr., Caber Toss – P.C. Frank Love, Judges: nf, 17 athletes compete, 9 trophies. 

This picture shows P.C. Malcolm Ramsay being hoisted by the athletes and a handwritten quip by Gordon Varnedoe.

For the first time in the instructions “…Open and Amateur Championships is by invitation only.” The A class begins as an overflow for the Amateur class. Malcolm: “Another first for Santa Rosa was the start of the 'overflow event.' With the increase in athletes, and in earlier years the large difference in the abilities of the athletes, a second (amateur) class was formed. This second class was to encourage newcomers to take up the sport. You must remember that in the earlier years we had less than a dozen competitors and others were encouraged to come out of the crowd and 'have a go.'  Kilts were not a required accessory. Charlie Simpson encouraged us to change our ways and have all Heavies be properly attired.”

Tom Johnson took down Bill’s Anderson’s Braemar stone record with a 35’ 11.5” while Grant Anderson threw the 56# WFD 41’ 4” and took the overall and WOB, while Bill won his last caber championship.  Placing 3rd and 4th were Tice and Vaughn, followed by Tom Johnson and John Ross.  Bill Anderson won the WHGHEC.

Of the five athletes in the first A overflow class, three were from the 1980 Amateur class. There was a note in the records that the judge’s sheets for the Amateur WOB were lost.  In the Amateur area Rick Fritzmeier took the field, followed by John Sells and Jan DeSoto, from Santa Rosa.  In the As, Walter Carruthers dropped back from 7th place in the Amateurs in 1980, to take all in the lower class.  Almost tying for 2nd place were Dave McNabb and Dave Wilson.

Scottish American Athletic Association was founded this year by a serious group of competitors aiming to improve the quality of judging, games sanctioning and consistency in the rules.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   G. Anderson G. Anderson  B. Anderson
Amateur   R. Fritzemeier R. Fritzemeier R. Fritzemeier
Amateur A W. Carruthers W. Carruthers W. Carruthers

1982 – Chief – John Dickson, Heavy Events – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field Events - Horace Crow, Jr., 5 Judges, 28 athletes competed, 7 trophies. This was the first year that the athletic judges were included in the judges list.  Also Gordon Varnedoe moved back home to Georgia this year and had a nice writeup in the program.  Here is another set of pictures, bios and autographs on this page and this one.

The second A year brought 12 athletes, including three who stuck around as ADs and judges further down the road: John Canino, Steve Conway (the Pleasanton AD for 2002) and Mike Qutermous. We also see the return of Sepp Braun in this class, moving down and taking 1st, and setting two new records. This practice slowly faded over the years and under SAAA (Scottish American Athletic Association) rules competitors now move up in class as their marks improve. Falling back to a class where winnings are easily assured is no longer an accepted practice. However a program explanation from this period states: “Class A…is the class for those not quite good enough for the Amateur or are competing for the fun of it…” (see the link for 1984 below.) 

In the Pro class there were only five entrants and between the Andersons, Grant beat Bill by more points than in 1981, even though Bill was throwing better - on average - than in the previous year.  Grant set Braemar, light hammer and WOB records while taking the field.  Keith Tice closed the gap on Bill Anderson for a 3rd place, with Canadian Dave Harrington in 4th and  Fred Vaughn 5th.  Grant also won the WHGHEC.

Dave McKenzie only set one new Amateur record, regaining his braemar from Fritzmeier, and taking the overall with Kevin Brady in 2nd place, Fritzmeier 3rd.  Kevin Brady and Paul Bishop tied on height for WOB but Bishop won on least failures scoring.  In the A class Sepp Braun took the field with Loren Moyer and Walt Carruthers in 2nd and 3rd place, while 6th place John Sells won the Sunday US Amateur Caber title.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

DMK+BO.jpg (197524 bytes)

Dave McKenzie and Brian Oldfield

Pros   G. Anderson G. Anderson G. Anderson 
Amateur   D. McKenzie P. Bishop J. Sells
Amateur A S. Braun S. Braun S. Braun

1983 – Chief – Kenneth R. Dick, Jr., Heavy Events Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field – Horace Crow, Jr., all 8 judges listed, 27 athletes competed, 7 trophies.  Apparently the aggregate scoring was reversed this year, replacing the highest score for winners with the lowest.  In 1982 Grant Anderson had 46 pts vs Bill Anderson's 33-1/2.  Now it's Grant 13 and Bill 19-1/2, with Grant winning.  Hard to judge the edge Grant had without taking each event and re-doing the score using the old system for comparison.  Of course as far as the games go, we are looking for the top athletes to win the top prizes and for the people trying their best to improve their PR, so scoring systems are a minor part of the operation. 

Grant Anderson set the 22# hammer record (and world as well) of 123’ 8.4” that will be unbroken 20 years in 2003. He broke his own light hammer by five feet for 143’ 3”.  3rd again this year was Keith Tice with Dave Harrington 4th, while 5th place winner was Brian Robin of the Isle of Seil, Scotland.

Gary Leach set two new records in his first appearance in the As and won the overall. Sepp Braun was back in the Amateur class but suffered an injury, and Paul Brady took 1st with Dave McKenzie 2nd, with a new record in 28# WFD, adding six feet to Rob MacKay's1979 record, and five feet to his own 16# hammer.  Eric LeMasters took both WOB and caber, improving on his 1982 30' 1" in the 56# WFD and beating McKenzie's 30' 9" distance from 1980 with a 35' 1.5", setting a US record and leaving a mark unbroken for ten years down the road.  Eric, from Covina, California, competed in 1982, finishing 7th overall, so this was a great improvement, but he seemed to disappear from the scene this year.

Off at the A trig was Bobby Dodd, who we can add to our collection of dedicated people.  Bob is still throwing today in the Masters class as well as making throwing implements thru his company, Hevy Gear.  He also came to judge in 2002 at Pleasanton.   Dick Shelton dropped back to A from Amateur and finished 3rd behind Mike Qutermous, 2nd and Gary Leach, 1st.  Shelton set a new A record with the light hammer, Leach improved both A stones, Dave McNabb added eight feet to the heavy hammer and Qutermous tied Braun's 1982 WOB at 11 feet.

Jim (J.D.) McGoldrick came to compete, but got sidetracked in a shootout with non-competing Brian Oldfield so that neither appeared on the competitor list, but here is Malcolm’s account from the summary sheets.  Meanwhile J. D. (Jim) McGoldrick set a US record in the WOB of 17’ 3” at another Games. Geoff Capes won the WHGHEC.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

DMcK++.jpg (111015 bytes)

Pros   G Anderson K Tice G Anderson
Amateur   K Brady E LeMasters E LeMasters
Amateur A G Leach M Qutermous D McNabb 

1984 – Chief – James L. Hamilton, Heavy Events – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field – Horace Crow, Jr., 12 judges*, 33 athletes compete, 13 trophies and 6 plaques. 
* I suspect that this is what we now call the “Officials” list, which includes markers and other helpers, else there was a judge for every three athletes!

The 10th U.S. Championships came this year with a writeup on the history, which – while it varies slightly from this account – fills in some details.  In the adjacent column we see the first presentation of the various events with accompanying photos and an explanation of the three classes: Open, Amateur and Class A. David Webster was invited to announce, was a great success, and so began a tradition that has lasted to this day.

In the competition, Grant Anderson won in all three categories, including beating his own hammer record by 3.5”, and he had tough competition from a newcomer, Jim McGoldrick who sticks to the program this year and beat Grant Anderson’s 16’ record in WOB from 1982 by 6.5”. McGoldrick took 1st in the light stone and WFD, but came in 7th with Open caber and 3rd on the US Championships. Obviously the man who was to hold the US Caber Toss Championship for 12 straight years starting in 1985 was just getting the lay of the land. 3rd was Keith Tice, and a new record in the braemar stone was made by Kevin Brady at 39’ 7”. Grant also won the WHGHEC this year.

Also throwing in this Open class were about a third of the “old timers” from the mid-70s: John Ross, Gordon Varnedoe, Keith Tice and James MacBeath. On the results summary there is a line “Class A & B” but the official B class did not appear in the programs until 1988. Among the judges was Sepp Braun.  The Amateurs saw McKenzie continue his relentless attacks on the hammer records and regains his WOB record by one inch.  Tom Jackson took Dave's 1983 record for 28# WFD by a few inches, but Dave took the overall and WOB with Oregonian Rick Fritzmeier coming back to reclaim the caber title he won in 1980 and taking 2nd, and Jan DeSoto a close 3rd.  A little further down on the list is Jan's brother, Dennis Desoto.

Gary Leach returned to set four new A records and win the overall with Mark MacDonald and Dave McNabb tying for 2nd.  3rd was Mike Qutermous.  Other "hang arounders" on the field this year were (Dr.) Lew Ross from British Columbia, Gerald Perdew and Rod MacKenzie, who filled the chair of SAAA president for a couple of years and later did the secretary/treasurer job for several years, and AD for the Sacramento Games.  

Rod and his wife, Sharon, made many smaller games happen by showing up on a dew-filled field at 6:30 A.M. with an old green Chevy pickup with everything you needed to throw.  Rod also became famous - or perhaps infamous - when a local Scottish troubadour, Duncan MacLean, wrote and sang a song called Rod MacKenzie's Balls at every games he performed at for several years.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

Crew-01.jpg (172652 bytes)

Pros   G. Anderson G. Anderson G. Anderson
Amateur   D. McKenzie D. McKenzie R. Fritzemeier
Amateur A G. Leach M. Qutermous D. McNabb 

Note: these group pictures for this and the next few years were not dated, but I placed them as close as I could based on  the people in the pictures and the years they competed.

1985 – Chief – James L. Hamilton, Heavy Events – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track and Field – Horace Crow, Jr., 10 Judges, 33 athletes compete. 

A first attempt at “World Team Championships” was proposed by Malcolm Ramsay, and while there is nothing in the program, on the results sheet we find “US 41 points, Scotland 19.” In the program is a picture of David Webster with a “Welcome back” note.

McGoldrick not only took the field, but set two new records while he was at it. This was also Jim’s first of nine years straight of winning the caber competition, and tracking the Pros gets easier here: it was J. McGoldrick, J. McGoldrick, J. McGoldrick, with very few interruptions for the next five years. Keith Tice won the 22# hammer competition at 111’ 7”, then, in a throw for record, hit 115’ 10” for a new U.S. record, finishing 2nd, and only 3 points short of McGoldrick and one point ahead of 3rd place Grant Anderson. Running 3rd in both hammer throws was Bill Anderson, having been passed by both Keith Tice and Grant. His numbers were also down from his last record-setting year of 1980.  Scottish Brian Robin returned but even though his throws were on average the same as 1983, the competition had picked up and he finished down near the bottom, keeping our perennial and faithful Pro, John Ross, company.  Keith Tice also set two other US records in 1985 of 144’ 2” with 16# hammer and in the 56# WFD, 42’ 6.75” at other Games.  On the world scene, British Geoff Capes won the WHGHEC this year and also 1986 and 1987.

5th place holder in the Amateurs, Greg Tafralis, threw the Amateur open stone 56’ 3”, setting a record which will have stood 18 years in 2003.   Gary Leach moved up from the As and, although his throws were overshadowed by those of McKenzie and Tafralis, he still took the WOB and finished 2nd overall, but this was his last appearance at Santa Rosa.  3rd in this class was Jan DeSoto and way down in 7th place was Joe Free, from San Marcos, California, who won the caber.  Dave McKenzie added six feet to Tom Jackson's year-old 28# WFD record to set an 11-year record at 73' 4".

Leach, together with John Ross, created a series of fun or “outlaw” games under the title “Two Medium Guys Highland Games” for three years in the mid-80s.

In the As we see two new faces who stick around for several years: Paul Heim and Gar McIlvaine, who later did the AD job at least one year for the Sacramento Games.  The Mikes - Tabor and Qutermous tied for 1st place, with Steve Conway 3rd.  Gerald Perdew won the caber and Qutermous added an inch to the WOB record to win that event.  Paul Heim also set a new light stone record of 42'.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

JDMcG-01.jpg (146550 bytes)

Pros   J McGoldrick J McGoldrick J McGoldrick
Amateur   D McKenzie  G Leach J Free 
Amateur A M Tabor M Qutermous G Perdew

1986 – Chief – James D. Robertson, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Chief Judge – nf, 30 athletes compete. Bill Anderson – now 48 – competed at Santa Rosa for the last time. A farewell dinner was given and attended by “55 to 60 athletes, judges and friends” for retiring Bill Anderson.

This was the “Year of the Hammers.” Grant Anderson set the 148’ 4” 16# hammer record which stood for 13 years until bettered when Steve King hit 149’ 4” in 1999 (see explanation on error here). Down in the Amateurs Dave McKenzie bettered both of his own hammer records by about four feet with 104’ 11” and 127’ 1.5” (for a US record), both of which stood for 12 years until Mike Smith bettered them by around three feet in 1999. 

While both Andersons competed this year, it was Jim McGoldrick who took the field, finishing 1st in all but the hammers. In 2nd place was Grant Anderson; 3rd, Keith Tice and 4th, Bill Anderson. 

Amateur Dave McKenzie was 1st again, Jan DeSoto 2nd and Bob MacKay, 3rd.  Colorado's Bob Pfieffer won the WOB at 13' and DeSoto the caber.  In the As Paul Heim set two new records to finish 3rd, Mike Tabor - who threw only WOB in 1985 - was in 2nd place and set records in both WFDs while 1st place Gar McIlvaine set both hammer records, 102’ 4” which held only two years, but his heavy hammer of 82’ 8.5 held up for six years.  The trio stayed in the same place order in the caber and WOB.

In a thank you note sent out with the results summary Malcolm gives credit to the background people.  The top of the page gives a sample of how the format of the results sheets had changed since 1975.

The "Team Championships" results were US 33, Scotland 27.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

JDMcG-02.jpg (129732 bytes)

Pros   J McGoldrick J McGoldrick J McGoldrick
Amateur   D McKenzie B Pfeiffer J DeSoto
Amateur A G McIlvaine G McIlvaine G McIlvaine

The records from 1987 thru 1990 have not been found so these four years have been pieced together as well as possible.

1987 – Chief – John S. Burton, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, (no records, no program). There are no records currently available for 1987 thru 1990. Record throws for this period were interpolated by looking at existing records on the 1992 forms. 

Here is a quote from the “Memo to all Games ‘Heavies’” “The ‘World Heavy Events Team Championship’ will be decided on points earned in all ten Open Class Events. Teams representing Scotland, Canada and the USA will earn a second set of points…” Also, on the awarding of prizes, “Winners will be presented to the crowd in the grandstand but trophies and prize money will be given out at an awards banquet on Sunday evening…If you cannot attend the banquet your prizes can be collected before leaving the fairgrounds.”

We can see that big Geoff Capes, from England, won all but the caber in the Open, he also set a 56# WFD of 42’ 5” that held up for five years. In the WHGHEC Geoff had won in 83, 85, 86 and this year.  Rob MacKay won in the Amateur overall and Joe Free moved up from 2nd place in 1986 on WOB and caber to first.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   G. Capes G. Capes J. McGoldrick
Amateur   R. MacKay  J. Free J. Free 
Amateur A no records available

1988 – Chief – John S. Burton, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, (no records, nor program available). 

David Graham set four new B records. David’s name appeared again in the A class in 1990, when he bettered Dave McKenzie’s WOB of 14’ 2” set in 1984. Graham took the A overall and WOB in 1991 and then vanished from the records. Terry Shanley apparently made a one-time appearance, taking the Amateur class.

The B class records as now seen in the programs thru 2001 started this year, but there are no records or programs available to check this out at the moment. It gets more confusing when we see in the 1989 program, “There are 3 classes of competition: 1) Open or Professional Class where prize money is awarded. 2) Amateur Class where the awards are trophies and medals. There are three Amateur Classes, two of which, Class A and Class B, will be contested at these games.” But it is clear by the next available records (1991) that the Amateur Class had become what we know of today as the A Class and the Amateur A became the B class.

In the competition Jim McGoldrick was not only back in charge but won the WHGHEC this year and for the next three years as well, giving him the longest run of wins in the World competition as well as at these games.

Bill Anderson officially retires from Scottish athletics.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   J. McGoldrick J. McGoldrick J. McGoldrick
Amateur   T. Shanley T. Shanley T. Shanley
Amateur A D. Graham no records available

1989 – Chief – Alex O’Neill, Athletics Chairman – Horace Crow, Assistant – Malcolm Ramsay, 5 or 6 judges, 30 athletes compete, 9 trophies but none for track. Horace Crow took over as Chairman thru 1990. 

This was the 15th anniversary of the Championships and the basic format for the introductory article is seen: “Many of our spectators are knowledgeable of the rules of the events…” which several people (including this author) have re-written and expanded ever since.  As far as I can determine this also may have been the first appearance of the Popular Science caber article from 1913 in the program. The program had taken on most of the characteristics we see today: slick paper, format, color pictures and more background articles.

We can also put some faces on some of these names with one, two, three more pages from the 89 program. People who have not been found in the earlier records are seen here: Carl Braun from Virginia who managed the games at Fredricksburg, Virginia, the scene of the 1997 World Championships; Charles Black who edited the SAAA newsletter “Heavy Events” in the early 90’s; Lew Ross from British Columbia who would win the first two years' Masters class overall, and Ryan Vierra who would hold the US and World Championship in the late 90’s.

Mark Robinson (later SAAA president and Caledonian Club member) set a B light hammer record of 106’ 3.5” that stood for eight years.

Keith Tice, the great American hammer champion was killed in an auto accident early this year.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   J McGoldrick J McGoldrick J McGoldrick
Amateur A  J DeSoto S Stucky G McIlvaine 
Amateur B M Robinson no records available

1990 – Chief – Alex O’Neill, Athletic Chairman – Horace Crow, Assistant P.C. James Jacobs, Chief Judge, (no records). The last of the “blank” years. This was the 125th Jubilee and a big blowout as can be seen from the front cover of the program.  In the program Shannon Hartnett is listed as one of the B competitors.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber Crew-03.jpg (149260 bytes)
Pros   J McGoldrick J McGoldrick J McGoldrick
Amateur A  D. Graham- S. Stucky- R. Vierra D. Graham -   R. Vierra S. Stucky
Amateur B J. Tinseth no records available

1991 – Chief – James D. Robertson, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Track Facilitator – John Johnston, judges not listed (no program), 9 trophies, 49 athletes compete. 

Malcolm: “Horace Crow elected to give the Women and Masters competitions a chance at Santa Rosa. Unfortunately he passed away before the Games and so did not live to see how successful they were.”  Trophy sheet list includes statement, “…under sanction of SAAA.” 

First time in the records for Ben Plunknett, who took the pro WOB with a new record of 16’ 11”, breaking Jim McGoldrick’s 16’ 6.5” from seven games back.  McGoldrick also added two feet to his Braemar record as his last field record with these games. Joe Quigley, the Australian who took the Pro overall, also beat Geoff Capes 56# WFD record by 1-1/2 feet with a 43’ 11”. McGoldrick moved back to 2nd with Scottish Alistair Gunn and Francis Brebner in 3rd and 4th. Dave McKenzie moved to the Pro class this year and finished 7th.  Other people moving to Pro were Jan DeSoto and Rob MacKay.

The big change for this year was the addition of two classes: Women and Masters over 50.  Lew Ross of British Columbia took the first Masters competition, winning five events and the caber, leaving 2nd place Bernie Welch and 3rd place Russ Murphy (both from Aurora, CO) in the dust.  Even further down the list was Fred Brittle, a Caledonian Club member and later president of the SAAA.  There were five competitors.  To see where the Masters class has gone in general, as well as to find some of the throwers in these pages, please see Bill Scruggs great site, Scottish Masters Athletics.

The Womens class saw six athletes and Shannon Hartnett cleaning house with an aggregate score of 62 while the four closest were all in the 30s.  In 2nd place was Violet Anderson and Sandra Johnson, 3rd. All of the throws for these two classes were baseline records and it would take a couple of years of shakeout before the numbers started to get into a reasonable range.

Meanwhile, in the A (formerly Amateur) Class, the winner was David Graham, with Dennis DeSoto 2nd and Charles Black 3rd.  Mark Robinson, Mike Qutermous, Gar McIlvaine and Rod MacKenzie have moved up to this class sometime since 1986.  This year Rod took the Saturday caber and Gar the championship.  Another thrower that shows up in the records for the first time is Mike Woody, who has alternated between competing and judging for many years, including judging at these Games in recent years.

Last was the B (formerly Amateur A) Class, the winner was Ken Yonge from British Columbia,  Jim Reynaud, 2nd and Paul McGraith, 3rd.  In 4th place was Noah Anderson, son of Calie Club Third Chieftain (secretary)  and later Chief - in 1996 and 97 - Kris Anderson.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   J Quigley B Plucknett J McGoldrick
Amateur A  D Graham D Graham  G McIlvaine
Amateur B K Yonge (K Yonge J Reynaud - Sat score sheet only)
Women S Hartnett  S Hartnett  S Hartnett 
Masters L Ross (L Ross L Ross - Sat. score sheet only)
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Jim Tinseth puts and PC Jacobs observes Dennis DeSoto  Ben Plunknett hit 16' 11" for new field record Group shot

1992 – Chief – T. Gordon MacDonald, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Athletic Assistants P.C. Jimmy Jacobs and John Johnston, Chief Judge – Stan Russell, Recorder – Barbara Morjig, 58 athletes competed, 13 trophies.  (This was the first year I saw the Games and the first program in my personal collection.)

In the program this was the “Year of the Athlete” with a guest appearance by Bill Anderson. Fred Brittle’s wife, Susan Ditz wrote the nice, two-page bio for Bill in that year’s program. See two of Bill's demo pictures in table below.  The sad news this year was that the caber judge for so many years, P.C. Frank Love, passed away.

Being the author’s first Santa Rosa games, having been inducted into the club in August, I didn’t see much of the games as I helped run the VIP bar with Frank Finch - who invited me to join the Club in 1991 - and with the Jardine Clan tent, helping Jerry Jardine who co-sponsored me into the Club. I did serve Bill Anderson his drinks and shake his hand even if I wasn’t quite sure what he was all about.

In the Pro field, Jim McGoldrick took the overall, followed by Ben Plunknett and Carl Braun, tying for 2nd with Scottish Gordon Martin 4th by one point.  This was Jim McGoldrick’s last year to win the overall for a nice run of six wins in eight years.  Elsewhere, Scotsman Francis Brebner won the WHGHEC.  Other visitors from abroad were Kevin Thom, Scotland, and George Chiappa, Canada.

John Ross was back, throwing with the A class, but finished 14th.  Keeping John company and new to Santa Rosa was Mike North who wrote (and continues to improve today) the computer program for the SAAA scoring system that we still use. Mike has also been an SAAA Board member and is the current webmaster.  Stan Stucky came from Washington to take the class, with Ryan Vierra and Mark Robinson in 2nd and 3rd, but all three were within a point (45, 44, 43) and even 4th place Phil Martin scored a 42. A little better point spread was seen in the Bs: Francis Minaglia, Jay Lyttle and Bryant Harris were at the top of the eighteen athletes in the class.

In the second year for Women Shannon Hartnett improved all six of the first-year marks she made, with 2nd place Monette Branson taking the 28# WFD, beating Heather Stewart’s previous mark by 6 feet. In third place was Violet Anderson.  In the Masters Lew Ross improved on 3rd place Bernie Welch’s braemar mark, Fred Brittle (who circulated a petition to get a 42# WFD and WOB for the Masters class) won the first 42# WOB this year at 13’ 6” and took fourth.  Russ Murphy passed Lew’s previous heavy hammer mark.

There is always something going on in the background regarding rules.  John Ross sent me a copy of a letter about side limit lines for the WFD trigs which he sent to Stan Russell who was on the SAAA Rules Committee.  I hated to re-write John's letter because his drawings are an integral part of the letter, so here are scans of that letter.

Someone finally allows us to see the faces of some of the judges.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

1992BA-S.jpg (281242 bytes)

1992BACab-S.jpg (100407 bytes)

Pros   J. McGoldrick B. Plucknett  J. McGoldrick
Amateur A  S. Stucky P. Martin S. Stucky
Amateur B F. Minaglia (T. Moffat  T. Moffat - Sat score sheet only)
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters L. Ross F. Brittle B. Welch

1993 – Chief – T. Gordon MacDonald, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Athletic Assistants P.C. Jimmy Jacobs and John Johnston, Chief Judge – Stan Russell, Recorder – Barbara Morjig, 51 athletes compete, 13 trophies. 

Last Santa Rosa Games. A record year of records, with 19 new records set.  

Shannon Hartnett improved four of her own records by significant footage.  Her competition was: 2nd position Monette Branson back from Utah to take both WFDs and a new face, Dee Dee Grant from Flint, Michigan.

John Ross, now 56, leaves the A Class and threw for the first time with Masters, winning the field.  Imagine if he had come in in 1991, when he was 54.  John was Trailed a distant 2nd and 3rd by Pennsylvanian Ed Stevens and Canadian Lew Ross, and in 4th place was Russ Murphy from Denver.

In the Open Class Ben Plunknett hit 17’ 7” in WOB, which held for six years.  Ben finished 4th with Jim McGoldrick taking 2nd to returning Joe Quigley, and Carl Braun in 3rd place.  Jim and Joe fought a close battle all the way with alternating wins.  In the World event McGoldrick reclaimed the title for this year. 

Meanwhile in the A class we have Phil Martin setting 15’ for a new record WOB and taking the field while he was at it. A distant 2nd and 3rd were Mark Robinson and Scott Biberthaler with the SAAA newsletter editor, Charlie Black in 4th.  Shawn, the first of the Gleeson family, competed in the B class, coming in 3rd behind fellow newcomer Jeff Bain’s triple record-setting win while Aaron Thurman took 2nd.

An important note here about record-keeping accuracy. Jeff Bain was given credit this year for a fourth record in the light stone, but tracing the field records back in 1998 I discovered that the record was actually 44’ 0.5” set by Paul Heim in 1986. The judges summary sheet from 1993 show the old record as 40’ 8.5”, which was the competition throw. Jeff ‘s throw of 40’ 9.25” was taken to be the new record. Later, in 1997, Luke MacKay threw a 41’ 1” stone in 1997 and was credited with a new record. By the time we discovered the error Paul’s record was truly broken by Charlie Kaptur in 1998 so the correction never appeared in the program. The outsider might think this is a lot of hoopla, but record breakers in the Open or Pro class are paid $60 for setting their field marks, and if our records are not kept accurately for the Amateur classes, people could also look askance at our Pro records. 

This was also the only year that your author threw at these games, where he helped the 1992 Masters Class last place holder, Frank Hall, move into next-to-the-last place. Even to this day Malcolm Ramsay denies that he said, “…if you weren’t in the Club, you wouldn’t be out there.”  David Webster announced me as a first timer and said that I was taking an officer spot in the Club and gave a ‘too bad’ for my 13’ Braemar putt. I missed the light stone because I was again helping set up the VIP bar. These were my first lessons in not trying to compete and participate in other activities as I have seen other athletes do to their detriment over the years. 

In 1992 a spectator made the comment that cabers were difficult to differentiate so the tradition of putting the height and weight in legible print on the wide end of the caber began this year.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   J Quigley B Plucknett J. McGoldrick
Amateur A  P Martin P Martin P. Martin
Amateur B J Bain (J Bain S. Gleeson - Sat score only)
Women S Hartnett  S Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters J Ross J Ross/E Stevens J .Ross

A great number of large photos were taken at this last Santa Rosa Games.  Courtesy of P/C Malcolm Ramsay.

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93BrnQuigMcGold-s.jpg (153940 bytes)

93BainMartinLarose-s.jpg (134525 bytes)

93MastersWin-s.jpg (117631 bytes)

93MartinMcGoldrick-s.jpg (201816 bytes)

Jim McGoldrick & Best US Athlete Trophy Pro winners: Braun, Quigley & McGoldrick


A winners: Bain, Martin & Larose

Masters winners: L Ross, J Ross & Stevens


Martin & McGoldrick at hammer cage


93DDGrant-s.jpg (261588 bytes) 93KHart-s.jpg (306131 bytes) 93BHarris-s.jpg (307148 bytes) 93GroupFoto-s.jpg (384617 bytes)
Dee Dee Grant does the farmer's walk

Kurt Hart is really puffin'


And Bryant Harris just sails along
Group shot

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In 1993 the last Santa Rosa Games were held and the whole kit and caboodle was moved to Pleasanton for the next season, amid much trepidation about the outcome. But just as it had for the past 128 years, the chairmen organized their volunteers and the 1994 Games were a great success. But would things be the same for our participants in the new venue?

Malcolm Ramsay again: “Many things have changed over the years including one that Santa Rosa – and now Pleasanton – (Heavy Events) are known for: that there is a tight schedule of events and that the schedule is adhered to.…because there is limited time and we must fit into the overall…Games. This tight scheduling is, on the whole, popular with the athletes as they know exactly when they have to be ready for the particular event.”

1994 – Chief – Jack D. Scott, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Malcolm Ramsay, Athletic Assistants P.C. Jimmy Jacobs and John Johnston, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, Recorders – Barbara Morjig and Diane North, 53 athletes compete, 15 trophies, including the one-mile and the 440. 

Malcolm Ramsay “retired” at the end of this season, but we kept him around with the title of “Chairman Emeritus” for both the honor and his good advice. Your author was elected Third Chieftain – Club secretary – and had the job of staffing and running two information booths at the new venue, giving very little time to even observe the Heavies in 94 and 95.

This was the last Amateur year for Ryan Vierra and Jeff Bain who took 1st and 2nd followed by Scott Biberthaler and Shawn Gleeson. In the Bs the second Gleeson, Tim, placed 3rd behind winner Patrick Gordon and Mike Douglas, and took Bain's year-old 56# WFD record away.  Down in 7th place was a newcomer, James (Big Jim) DeAvellar and nearby, Jack Henderson.

Only five women competed this year, with Shannon Hartnett improving her light stone and replacing 3rd place Monette Branson’s 1993 28# WFD record by more than a foot. Rhonda (Rondi) Horn made her first appearance here and took the WOB with a 15’, beating Shannon’s 14’ 6” from 93 and finished 2nd.

In the Masters John Ross added a bit to his own Braemar and six feet to his 28# WFD as well as a 14’ in WOB to replace Fred Brittle’s short-lived record.  A distant 2nd place and the WOB were taken by Dr. Kankrlik and Alaskan John Thomson was 3rd.  Another new face was Gleeson number three: Jim, the father of Tim, Shawn and (soon to appear) Jeff.

In the Pros, while it was reported in the SAAA Heavy Events News as, “Braun scores upset win over McGoldrick at Pleasanton”, this is not surprising if we look at Jim’s throws from 93, 94 and 95. Like any other athlete his numbers were doing two things: a slow decrease with age and ups and downs for any given year. At Pleasanton in 1994 Jim McGoldrick simply turned in his worst performance: it was a bad year. Carl Braun turned in the best hammer throws of the games, tied with Jim for 3rd in WOB and shot it out for the rest. Please don’t think that I am trying to belittle Carl’s performance or win: he is a great athlete and has made many valuable contributions to the sport. I am analyzing numbers and I can say that if Jim had thrown as well in 94 as in 93 or 95 and with only three points between them in the aggregate, he would have won. But of course this just shows the truth of all sports: condition, practice, health, bad throws, bad days, good luck, and on and on: you come as prepared as you can be and everyone hopes to improve their PR and if you win in the process it’s a double blessing.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   C. Braun P. Martin J. McGoldrick
Amateur A  R. Vierra S. Biberthaler S. Gleeson
Amateur B G. Patrick D.Thomson T. Moffat
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters J. Ross J. Kankrlik J. Ross

1995 – Chief – Jack D. Scott, Athletic Chairman – John Johnston, Co-chairs – P.C. Jimmie Jacobs and Fred Brittle, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, Recorders – Barbara Morjig and Diane North, 60 athletes competed, 13 trophies but none for track, 

David Webster was awarded his O.B.E. this year, for his many years of dedicated work on the Commonwealth Games movement.

Now Jim McGoldrick’s scores came back up, but so did the competition: Ryan Vierra, the 94 A winner had turned Pro and begins his own four-year winning streak, although he was pushed in the stones by McGoldrick and Ron McKee and beaten in the WFDs by MacDonald and Brebner his two hammers and WOB were clean victories. In 2nd place was Francis Brebner followed by Harry MacDonald and Jim. In a further defeat for Jim, Phil Martin won the caber competition, being the only man to do it during Jim’s 14-year reign as the U. S. Caber Champ. Phil also took the WOB championship this year. In the WHGHEC Alistair Gunn was the winner.

In the Amateur areas, this may have been the most hard-fought win of Shannon Hartnett’s Caledonian Club competitions, Rhonda (Rondi) Horn, in her second year here, came the closest – 4 points in the aggregate – to anyone ever beating Shannon. Twelve women competed, and besides Rondi, Monette Branson beat Shannon’s 28# WFD by Ľ”, but both were 6 feet behind Rondi’s 37’ 4” which set one of only two records for the year and Anne McKee (wife of Pro Ron McKee) tied Shannon on the caber for position (11:30) but was awarded 1st place. So Rondi and Anne are the only two women to have won one of the three categories from Shannon since the Women’s class started in 1991. 

In the men’s area the Gleesons were moving up: Shawn taking A and Tim, B overalls.  Scott Biberthaler got 2nd in As with Art McDermott a close 3rd.  Others new on the A list were Karl Dodge from Colorado, local Bryant Harris and Oklahoman Dave Brown.  The Bs 2nd place went to Paul Brown of Yakima, WA, and 3rd was David Thomson, son of Masters John Thomson.  Jack Henderson took the WOB contest and 4th place Dave Garman the caber.

Meanwhile, back in the Masters' corner Vern Alexander and Jan Kankrlik shot it out for first in John Ross’s absence, Vern winning the aggregate by one point, while Jan at least got the WOB. Again comparing John’s 94 throws with the 95 Masters, only Vern’s hammers would have beaten John. 

A quiet year for new records, with A Class Shawn Gleeson tying Phil Martin’s 15’ WOB and Rhonda Horn adding more than 2’ to Shannon’s 28# WFD.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   R. Vierra P. Martin P. Martin
Amateur A  S. Gleeson S. Gleeson S. Gleeson
Amateur B T. Gleeson J. Henderson D. Garman
Women S. Hartnett  R. Horne  A. McKee
Masters V. Alexander J. Kankrlik V. Alexander

1996 – Chief – Kristan R. Anderson, Athletic Chairman – P.C. Jimmy Jacobs, Co-chair Jim Jardine, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, Recorders – Barbara Morjig and Diane North, 58 athletes compete, 13 trophies. John Johnston became 1st Chieftain (Vice President) and was out of the loop for the next four years. It is assumed that when you take the First Chieftain’s job you will be next in line for Chief.

Another records snafu occurred this year. Alistair Gunn threw the light hammer a great 144’ 5.5” and apparently set a new games record. Due to gaps in the record keeping (the “lost years”) we came out of the dark ages with Grant Anderson’s 1986 competition throw of 144’ 1”, instead of his record of 148’ 4” so it was overlooked in several programs. Fortunately, with this error, Stephen King threw a clean 149’ 4” only three years later so we didn’t have the terrible Scottish shame of having to pay several people for an incorrect record. Needless to say, we did not ask Alistair for our money back!

So, in spite of this, our records still got up to nine, with Brebner breaking McGoldrick’s eleven year-old record of 83’ 3” for the 28# WFD by 4” and Joe Quigley’s 1991 56# by 2-1/2 feet. Ryan Vierra also won the WHGHEC title this year and continued this for 97 and 98.

In the amateur ranks Scott Biberthaler broke a Dave McKenzie 28# WFD record of 73’ 4” by 3.25” and David Brown took down a 13-year record set by E. McMasters in 1983 for the 56# WFD by a whopping 3-1/2 feet. In Bs, down in 3rd place was the fourth Gleeson, Jeff.  Geoff Eyles won the class and WOB, with Colorado's Dave Duff in 2nd place and caber winner.  In the Women’s area Shannon’s closest competition was Elizabeth Ross who, with her sister Jennifer, first competed at Pleasanton in 95. Monette Branson still competed but her throws were down considerably leaving her in 3rd place.  Another man-wife team was on the field this year as Christy DeAvellar (sister of Mark Robinson) threw here for the first time. 

In the Masters class Dan DeWelt and Rod MacKenzie have turned 50 and moved in from previous throwing in B and A respectively, but Dan is from Oklahoma and did not compete here as regularly as Rod, our local guy with time in the management saddle as SAAA President and later Secretary/Treasurer for many years. And this is not to put Dan down by any means, as he found time to do the AD job at local games and edit the Oklahoma Highland Games News. Anyhow they and John Ross had a great shoot out, with two records going to Dan for Braemar and WOB, two to Rod for adding a couple of feet to John’s old hammer records and John himself increasing his 42# WFD from his 1993 27’ 4” to a great 36’ 3”.
Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   R. Vierra J. McGoldrick J. McGoldrick
Amateur A  S. Biberthaler S. Biberthaler D. Brown
Amateur B G. Eyles G. Eyles D. Duff
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters D. DeWelt D. DeWelt  V. Alexander

1997 – Chief – Kristan R. Anderson, Athletic Chairman – Jim Jardine, Co-Chairman – Ron Dunne, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, 57 athletes compete, 17 trophies. 

P.C. Jimmy Jacobs passed away suddenly.  Jim Jardine was appointed by Chief Anderson to play the AD role. Your friendly author is good at collecting and sorting information, making lists and checking boxes, but not too good on direct personnel management skills. Nevertheless, after checking with P.C. Malcolm Ramsay (“if the Chief asked you to do the job, then you do it!”) I gathered Jimmy Jacobs papers from his wife, Jean, and made a huge task list of what had to be done. A big thing that didn’t get done right was the T-shirts.  P.C. Jacobs had begun the practice of sorting and bagging the shirts, numbers and pins at his house.  Several factors didn't allow for that this year and my wife and I wound up handing out T-shirts from a big pile spread out on the bleachers on Saturday morning.  This threw the schedule off.  Then my lack of understanding about the complexity of the trophies and awards for Sunday helped the chaos, but Malcolm was around to hold it together.  So it all got put together and ran fair to middlin’. I was, however, very glad that Ron Dunne agreed to be the “in charge” guy for 98, as we both shared the load equally from 97 thru 99. A visitor in the guise of Greg Bradshaw, organizer for the RMSA came to help out, but not for the first time.

Thanks to a suggestion by then Chief Judge, Steve Conway, I wrote up the first of the bio pages for the judges, which brought the Heavy Events portion of the program in line with the other groups who had been providing biographical information on their judges for some time. I also moved the scorekeepers into this page.  We also changed the scoring system to be the same as most other games in the SAAA sphere.  It was also this year - and you don't want to hear the details - that I suggested moving our "between-the-throws" gathering place and scorekeepers domain from the sunny (read HOT) side of the track to the paddock area.  This year we got tents but no Astroturf.  In 98 we got the whole 9 yards, but to this day we have to run 250' of extension cords to power the computer.

In Club news, we got our own building, the first one since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed the jointly run CCSF and St Andrews building.  It is located in South San Francisco and has played host to several of the SAAA Annual Award dinners.

At Chief Anderson’s suggestion Bill Anderson made a guest visit to our Games, along with Gordon Varnedoe and we all see John Ross win the Chief’s trophy.  There is a whole page here for 1997 with photos by Evie Ross, put together by the webmaster (me).  

There were seven new records. Starting with the Pros, Ryan Vierra improved on Brebner’s 1996 28# WFD by more than a foot, with 2nd place Harry MacDonald and 3rd Jim McGoldrick many points behind in their aggregate scores, though Jim took 1st on the Braemar, Ron McKee on the open and Alistair Gunn on the 22# hammer. In his second year as a Pro, Karl Dodge finished 6th, but took second in the 56 for distance.  In the Women’s camp Shannon set three records: both hammers and knocking out Rondi Horn’s 1994 WOB by 6”. A newcomer, Jill Wool, while far behind in the aggregate, gave Shannon some close competition, with less that a foot difference in braemar and 28# WFD, and a win by 6” in the 14# WFD. Elizabeth Ross’s numbers were down considerably but she still managed 3rd place.  A newcomer who has stayed in there and worked on the SAAA board was Shonda Smith. 

Rondi Horn was in an auto accident in 1996. I spoke to her in 97 and she was trying to get back into shape but had several accident-related limitations on her movements. I called once more in 98 and she had pretty much given up returning to the field.

At the Masters’ trig Vern Alexander and Rod MacKenzie bettered their own 16 and 22# hammers respectfully from the previous year, with a nice return by John Ross to win the overall with wins in both stones and WFDs.  Then Vern took 2nd as well as the WOB and caber for Sunday. We also had a welcome return visit by Lew Ross from BC who last competed in 1993 and took 3rd this year. Dan DeWelt took the year off while recovering from a broken elbow, but came to watch ... and plan.

In The As we find a new face taking the field, young Douglas MacDonald from Canada took 1st in a close battle with homeboy Mike Douglas with Eddie MacDonald a close 3rd. In Bs an even younger (17) Luke MacKay, who was probably the first son of a previous thrower (Rob MacKay) to appear in these games in recent history, took the class and set one record with a 62’ 4” on the 28# WFD, beating Jeff Bain’s 1993 60’ 5”. Kevin Kinzy won the 22# hammer with a record throw of 91’ 6” and WOB on Sunday to come in 2nd and Stuart Hamill was 3rd winning braemar and caber, but the Sunday caber went to John Clewis. One more record was made by Jon Langley, the 4th place winner when he added 6” to the 56# WFD mark. A newcomer was Bill Rothschild, who has since played the AD role at the Monterey Games.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   R. Vierra J. McGoldrick J. McGoldrick
Amateur A D. MacDonald D. MacDonald D. MacDonald
Amateur B L. MacKay K. Kinzy J. Clewis
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters J. Ross V. Alexander V. Alexander

1998 – Chief – John Johnston, Athletic Chairman – Ron Dunne, Co-Chair Jim Jardine, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, 59 athletes compete. Just a few days before the games, Cletus Abbott, our long-time judge, competitor and even the inventor of the ski-pole markers concept, died after a long struggle with kidney problems. Earlier in the year Jim Teague, who worked with John Burton’s setup crew and always set up our hammer cages, died suddenly at work.  His son, Jason, has been doing the marker’s job since at least 1992.

We have a new shot putter in the Pros, with Petur Gudmundsson of Iceland, who broke Jim McGoldrick’s seven-year record of 40’ 2” by 6.75”.  Petur took both stones, Karl Dodge took both WFDs (and set a new 56# record) and WOB, but Ryan Vierra’s two good hammers won and the fact that he came in 2nd on four events put him over the top. Karl Dodge got the 2nd place and Harry MacDonald 3rd. While Jim McGoldrick took the caber championship, injuries had put him down in 6th place and he took the next year off, and finally decided to stop competing in 2000. In Masters we had the triumphant return of Dan DeWelt, setting three new records by over a foot and his own WOB by 3”. He was always ahead, but closely followed by James Donnelly and John Ross in 2nd and 3rd place.

In Bs Charlie Kaptur was the new star, setting five new records, including a 12-year light stone held by Paul Heim since 1986. He was followed by Roger Campbell in 2nd place and Eric Wechter in 3rd. Eric’s brother Marc took 1st in the Saturday caber. It took light weight Scott Clark however, all the way from Scotland, to finally break Mark Robinson’s 1989 light hammer with a 109’ throw.   For the women, another "boring" year of Shannon Hartnett beating old records, but by some really big numbers: 2+ feet to the light stone, 2+ feet to Monette Branson’s 1993 14# WFD, 3+ feet to Rondi Horn’s 28# WFD, seventeen feet  to her own light hammer and 10 to the heavy. There were seven others competing, with Laura Molnar and Jill Wool tying for 2nd with 27 aggregate points each against Shannon’s eight. Kris Stuteville hit the 4th slot with 2nd place to Shannon in heavy hammer, WFD and caber.

The A class saw the return of and another 1st place for Doug MacDonald and first appearance of David Barron of New York, who took a one-point 2nd. 3rd was Mike Neese.

Smile!  You're on Canadian Camera...or was it UHA-TV?  Hoping to get our sport on prime-time TV, Ken Soudan and his crew of cameramen came to get our Games on tape for the first time as a full-blown production.  They also did other famous Games and many samples of their workwere on their website for a couple of years.  Unfortunately the enterprise did not raise enough business to keep afloat, and I wasn't clever enough to download Ken's shots to our site.  (6/21/07)

An interesting thing happened here:  I was poking away, trying to knock this page into shape (9/12/02) when I received e-mail from Ken Soudan, saying that he was sorry that things didn't work out for him to film the 2002 Games.  I answered, saying I'd see how I could put in a link to UHA-TV for 99, but as I explored his site I thought, jeez, this stuff belongs here as much as the scans from old programs and all of the other stuff I collected.  What a great addition! (and too bad it's gone!)

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Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   R. Vierra K. Dodge J. McGoldrick
Amateur A  D. MacDonald D. MacDonald M. Neese
Amateur B C. Kaptur C. Kaptur M. Wechter
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters D. DeWelt D. DeWelt J. Donnely

1999 – Chief – John Johnston, Athletic Chairman – Ron Dunne, Co-chair Jim Jardine, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, 55 athletes compete, 17 trophies. It was the 25th anniversary of the US Championships. To help celebrate the occasion, for the first time the World Highland Games Heavy Event Championships were held at Pleasanton, thanks to David Webster. P.C. Malcolm Ramsay returned from retirement to assist. This was the 20th World Event. The 12 Open Class competitors were split 50-50 between U.S. and international entries.

Matt Sanford of Australia won the field by a significant margin. Several factors are apparent for Ryan Vierra’s 2nd place: several of Ryan’s throws were down from 1998, Steven King’s two hammer throws beat everyone standing still: Steven broke Grant Anderson’s 13 year-old 148’ 4” by a full foot in the light hammer and Petur Gudmundsson’s winning stones all helped keep Ryan well below Matt’s score. Alistair Gunn was back with good hammers and fighting it out with Harry MacDonald (his tenth year here) for 5th and 6th place. Sanford’s 18’ WOB and 85’ 6.5” 28# WFD added three new records to the 13 set this year. Karl Dodge, who came in 4th also set a US 56# WFD of 47’ 11.75 elsewhere. Appearing here for the first time was well-known Dutch strongman, Wout Zijlstra, but he scored very low this time around. 

In the As David Barron took 1st while setting a new WOB record of 15’ 6”, Mike Smith was 2nd with both hammers breaking Dave McKenzie’s 1986 records by three feet each. 3rd place Harrison Bailey III also beat David Brown’s 1996 56# WFD with 40’ 4.5”. The B class was won by Brian Gilbert with Andy Kesinger, 2nd and John Patton, 3rd and a repeat caber win by Marc Wechter. It was another DeWelt year in the Masters, with Dan increasing three of his own records – braemar, and WFDs – while he won every event except the Saturday caber which went to 2nd place Bill Butler, followed by Vern Alexander, who took the Sunday caber and Dan’s friend from Oklahoma, Bill Scruggs in 4th place. 

The Women’s class had a surprise when Dagmar Flynt came to beat Shannon in the #28 WFD and the heavy hammer. Dagmar also set a record with the 28# WFD of 46’ 5”, beating Shannon’s 98 record by close to six feet. In this same year Shannon set three world records at other games: 12# hammer 120’ 1”; 16# hammer 94’ 9” and an amazing 18’ 4” in the WOB.

Another year of UHA-TV coverage.  (This whole paragraph disappeared with the loss of the video)

To help David Webster’s load as both announcer and official of the WHGHEC, Pro athlete Bryant Harris did his part by announcing all of the non-Pro events.  In a truly sporting gesture, AD Ron Dunne had the commemorative kilt pin below made up for our first World event, and awarded it to all participants: athletes, markers, committee people, etc.

Class Overall  WOB Caber

99KiltPin-S.jpg (42360 bytes)

Pros   M. Sanford M. Sanford M. Sanford
Amateur A  D. Barron M. Smith M. Smith
Amateur B B. Gilbert B. Gilbert J. Clewis
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters D. DeWelt D. DeWelt V. Alexander

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2000 – Chief – Ralph Black, Athletic Chairman – P.C. John Johnston, Co-chair – Ron Dunne, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, 61 athletes compete, 17 trophies. 

Here we have another hot year for records with 16 total being broken. 1st Ryan Vierra – finishing 2nd behind Matt Sanford – added several inches to Matt’s 1999 28# WFD record for 86’ 3”. Returning Petur Gudmundsson brought the braemar up to 42’ 2” as he won both stones. Ryan won both WFDs, followed by 3rd place winner, Harry MacDonald. While Wout Zijlstra finished tenth overall, he won the Sunday WOB Championship, while Mike Smith took the caber.

Women’s class had nine competitors, with Laura Molnar taking 2nd place overall as well as stones and WFDs. The hammers 2nd places were won by Amy Thiel and Kimberly McNeill was 2nd on WOB and caber, giving her 3rd overall. Shannon set two more world records elsewhere for both WFDs. The Masters saw the end of Dan DeWelt’s short but impressive reign when James “Big Jim” DeAvellar came bouncing in from the bottom of the A class to set new records in both hammers and WOB which was also – at 16’ 6” – a new world record. Dan DeWelt also set a record in the light stone, bettering his own from 98. Kent Durso took 3rd with Mike Qutermous winning his first caber championship at these games after competing here since 1982. This is – of course – one of the great things about the Masters class: a chance to keep going and always improve. 

What I missed in this year was the chance to talk more with returning James MacBeath, as I didn’t know the part he had played in the startup of the championships. John Ross petitioned the Committee to help James come to compete. Then disaster struck: his luggage was lost and he was embarrassed and felt it improper to compete without a kilt. Things were finally worked out and even tho' the aggregate lists him as 13th, PR only, he took 3rd in the 42# WFD, 4th in light hammer and tied with four others at the 14-foot level in WOB. This was also the year that John Ross collapsed and almost died, while throwing WOB at the Sacramento Caledonian Club Games in Woodland, California. The Club put together a dedication and presented John with a plaque of appreciation for his years of competition and work on the Games, at the 2001 Pleasanton Games.

In the As Charlie Kaptur was challenged by 2nd place James Fahie and 3rd place Matt Rauzi. Tyson Lingenfelter took both stones and Charlie set two new records in the WFDs with the single other win going to Fahie with a 122’ 5” in the light hammer. In the Bs Ken Lowther hits the field with a Charlie Kaptur-like sweep of five new records: three of Kaptur’s, and adding seven feet to Scott Clark’s hammer for 116’ 9.5”. Although he finished 4th, Joe DeSalame set a 28# WFD record and won this as well as the heavy hammer. Josh Grace took 2nd overall as well as the Sunday WOB and John Patton finished 3rd.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber

BigJimWHFoverthetop.jpg (106148 bytes)

Pros   M. Sanford  W. Zijlstra M. Smith
Amateur A  C. Kaptur  C. Kaptur C. Kaptur
Amateur B K. Lowther  J. Grace  K. Lowther
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters J DeAvellar J DeAvellar M. Qutermous

2001 – Chief – Ralph Black, Athletic Chairman – P.C. John Johnston, Co-chair – Steve Conway, Chief Judge – Steve Conway, 57 athletes compete, 17 trophies. Your author has held the title of Trophies and Webguy for a couple years now, thus keeping his picture out of the program!  On the serious side, Ben Morjig, who was a judge since 1970, passed away.

No big surprises for this year: Matt Sanford won this Championship and the WHGHEC for the third year, Ryan was 2nd, David Barron moves up to 3rd and Harry MacDonald to 4th.  A somewhat controversial new spin was put on one of the events when the "spinning weight for height" was tried.  This evolved into what is now graded as two separate events, an open (do what you want) and traditional.  The spin style is categorized on the record-keeping websites as "open" while the fixed is being called "stand."

In the A class David Barron’s brother, Will, set two new records: a seven foot increase on Kaptur’s 73’ 11” for 28# WFD and a 41’ 0.5” in the 56#. This helped Will take 2nd place and Sean Betz took 3rd and the WOB on both days. B winners were Sean Ullom, Mark Wechter and Adam Stout, with Mark’s caber work paying off in winning the Sunday event.

The Women’s competition was almost a repeat of 2000, with Shannon. Laura Molnar and Kimberly McNeill winning in that order and no new numbers except an increase in players to 11. Big Jim held his lead in the Master’s but Kent Durso closed the gap to win the Saturday WOB and Bill Butler took 3rd overall. Our long-time caber hotshot, Mike Qutermous, won both Saturday and Sunday cabers.

This was the last year for the B Class, which was being replaced in 2002 with a new class for 40-49 Masters.

Not two weeks after the end of this year's games, our Chief, Ralph Black, died of a heart attack.  In the Club's 135 years Chief Black was the first to pass away while still holding office.

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   M. Sanford M. Sanford D. MacDonald
Amateur A  K. Lowther S. Betz K. Lowther
Amateur B S. Ullom S. Ullom M. Wechter
Women S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett  S. Hartnett 
Masters J. DeAvellar K. Durso M. Qutermous

 2002 – Chief – Alex Henderson, Athletic Chairman – Steve Conway, Chief Judge – Mark Robinson, 58 athletes compete, ~18 trophies. This was our 3rd WHGHE Championships, the 28th US Championships. The new class names are seen in the table below.

This year our Chief, Alex Henderson, appointed Steve Conway as the Athletic Chairman.  Steve has been involved in these games as a competitor or judge for the past 21 years. He competed first in the “B” Class and later moved to the “A” Class until 1988, when he began judging.  He is the Chief Judge and a Board Member of the Scottish American Athletic Association (SAAA).  He is the first Athletic Director of these Games to “come up thru the ranks.”

Masters Kent Durso, from Nashville, Tennessee, won his three year climb and took the overall and the WOB.  He had an aggregate score of 8 to 2nd place Kit Sonesen's 29 and caber winner and 3rd place Vern Alexander's 30.5 points.   Vern also took the caber both days, trailed by Bill Butler and Mike Qutermous.  

In the new 40-49 Masters class, all distances were baseline, but we still had winners: former Pro Ron McKee really showed his stuff and finished 1st at 13 points with Mike Douglas at 19 and 3rd place Brett Milton at 27.  Mike was a step behind Ron in stones and WOB with Kel Mulrey 3rd in stones and Carlos Borges 2nd in both hammers.  Other long time throwers were John Henderson, Jay Lyttle and Rich Doria.  McKee took the caber both days as well, but closely contested by Brett Milton.  WOB and WFD for this class was 42#, as it had been for the 50+ Masters since 1994.

Pro Ryan Vierra set both new WFD distance of 47' 7" and 88' as he took both WFDs and the heavy hammer,  giving him 2nd place to the 2001 champ, Matt Sanford.  Matt only took 1st in the light hammer and WOB.  Petur Gudmundsson put in his usual great performance on both stones and was 2nd in WOB for a 3rd place in the overall.  Alistair Gunn was 2nd in both hammers.  Canadian Doug MacDonald finished 9th overall but took the caber on both days.

Shannon Hartnett finished 1st with 8 points and Laura Molnar (now Lancaster) 2nd with 21.5 and Shonda Smith (now Mulrey) 3rd at 32.5.  A newcomer, Bethany Owen was in 4th place and took 2nd place on the 28# WFD and WOB.  Laura was the only competitor to come close to Shannon's throws, with a 38' 3.75" light stone against Shannon's 40' 10.5".  She was also very close to Shannon on the caber scores on both days.

In the As, Simon Stewart cleaned house with 12 aggregate points against 2nd place Matt Rauzi's 28.  3rd place Jeremiah Strand won the 56# WFD and took 3rd.  Matt Rauzi took both cabers with close competition from Simon Stewart and Dan Dillon.  During the awards Simon suffered from the author's continuing struggle to understand the trophy system, when I made him wait while I figured out what he already knew!

Class Overall  WOB  Caber
Pros   M. Sanford R. Vierra D. MacDonald
Amateur Open  S. Stewart S. Stewart M. Rauzi
Women’s Open S. Hartnett S. Hartnett S. Hartnett
Masters 40-49 R. McKee R. McKee R. McKee
Masters 50+ K. Durso K. Durso V. Alexander
02AthlWOB-2Meas.jpg (48015 bytes) 02AthlWOB-3Meas.jpg (58346 bytes) Careful measurements before a record attempt at WOB.
02AthlWOB-1SH.jpg (41718 bytes) 02AthlWOB-2SH.jpg (43373 bytes) 02AthlWOB-3SH.jpg (48704 bytes) 02AthlWOB-4SH.jpg (42561 bytes) Shannon Hartnett does WOB slow and easy.  Jeff Bain is judging.

2003 as I am preparing the websites for this years' games I received news that Ben Plucknett, the great WOB man from 10 years ago, died of an aneurysm sometime in 2002.

2003 thru 2014 - your fearless author went off on other tangents.  I may come back and fill in the gaps, when I found a round tuit!

Meanwhile, the management has stayed pretty much the same: Steve Conway is still keeping the whole thing going, David Webster (now in his eighties) is still coming to announce and your friendly ________________ is still wheeling out the cart full of trophies on the Sunday afternoon for the awards ceremony.

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Where did They Come From; Where did They Go?

This has been a lengthy account, with many athletes entering and leaving the scene. To follow up on everyone would be a bit boring and probably an impossible task. So I selected the year that this competition was first called the U.S. Championships, 1975, and tracked down all of the participants that I could.

There are two positive attributes that athletes like to talk about in these competitions: the camaraderie and that the main goal is improving your personal best record or PR. I would like to add a third aspect: community. There is a community of Scottish athletes and the word of what is going on elsewhere in that world gets spread very quickly. Whether it’s true or not that a tree falling in the forest may not make any noise if there is no one there to hear it is still argued by philosophers, but if someone tosses a caber everyone hears it.

This is based on a copy of the first year throwers program page that John Ross sent me, Malcolm’s summary, and the actual judges score or tally sheets which I found in a box of miscellaneous stuff that came from P.C. Johnny Johnston. It was the only year that the individual sheets have been found. Five of these people are on this page from the 1978 program.

Brian Oldfield - #491. I tracked down Brian currently working as an athletic trainer for John Powell Associates in Nevada.   Also his top shot put of the 1975 season on a page called “All-time men's best shot put”.  Note that the current holder of the highest two places is Randy Barnes, a protégé of Brian's.  

22.86m     Brian Oldfield     USA     45-06-01     1 El Paso 1975-05-10

Brian is cited in the 1978 program as: “Occupation – TV Superstar and Sportscaster.” Here is a picture of Brian today which I snatched off the internet. He is working here with young trainees at the John Powell school. I managed to contact Brian recently and he told me that his early training in Scottish athletics was under the tutelage of one of Bill Anderson's predecessor in Scottish champions, George Clark, who trained Brian on freshly plowed fields and then took him to games every other day.  Brian wonders if George weren't trying to keep him worn out so he wouldn't fare so well against the Scottish lads.  [Clark held his titles in the mid -1930's, and passed away in 1987, per David Webster's book on Donald Dinnie.]

John Ross - #492. See John’s story below. John was still throwing into the year 2000. In spite of a serious cardiac arrest at the Sacramento Games in April 2000, he still brought our throwing implements to Pleasanton – as he had for well over 25 years – and helped and encouraged people on the field.  He threw a bit in 2002 but it resulted in having his "pacemaker" fire off and give him an unpleasant jolt.

Stan Russell - #493. [Stan’s name does not appear on the score sheets] He was the first athlete to have his picture appear in a program. Stan was Pro Class and Chief Judge in 1991 thru the last Santa Rosa Games in 1993. He is currently living in Colfax, California .

Ron Short – #494. Ron began in Scottish athletics in 1963 and was well-known for his caber technique. He threw in 75 and 78 at Santa Rosa. He came from the North Carolina area and was a several year Best Athlete winner at Grandfather Mountain, as well as placing 4th in the 1979 World Caber Toss Championships in Aberdeen, Scotland. Last known address was in Winston-Salem, NC.

Keith Tice – #495. Began competing at Santa Rosa in 73. He continued throwing and competing at Santa Rosa at thru 1988, where he was placing between 2nd and 3rd place in general scores and 3rd in the overall. In 1985 he set two US records for both Weights for Distance and held the US records for 56# WFD and both hammers at the time of his death in an auto accident in 1989.

Gordon Varnedoe – #496. Gordon was the 4th generation of men belonging to the St. Andrews Society. His father took him to Grandfather Mountain Games in the early 60s. Gordon turned his first caber in 71 and was throwing at Santa Rosa before 1975, training and competing with John Ross. But he was a caber man from the days when a competitor could enter any of the events he cared to. He continued throwing in the pro class until 1981, when he retired. Originally from Georgia, he returned there in 1982 and continued working to improve the recognition of the Heavy Events in the Southeast. He came as a guest of the Games in 1997 and is seen in this picture, where John Ross receives that coveted Chief’s Trophy, for winning the Masters Class, from Chief Kris Anderson, while Bill Anderson looks on.

Fred Vaughn – not in program, but see some detail here.  Fred was an AAU discus champion in the early 70s and, like Gordon Varnedoe, went to try at the Grandfather Mountain Games in 72, the same year they had brought their Games up to a full set up events. He competed his first full year in 74, came to Santa Rosa in 75 and continued to compete at Santa Rosa almost every year thru 1984. In the meantime he formed the North American Scottish Games Association (NASGA) in 1976 and served as president until 1981.

Dick Shelton - not in the program.  From Santa Clara, CA.  Won the Amateur overall in 77 and 78, threw at the bottom of the Amateurs in 82 (possibly injured as he didn't do all of the events) and last appeared in the A Class in 1983 where he finished 3rd.  In the 1979 program he was listed as the holder of the US Amateur Scottish Hammer records

Bob Slanec -  not in the program.  From Murray Utah, he competed at several Games thru the early 80s.

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The Records

By clicking on the links below you will find four presentations of the data gleaned from these various sources.  I have two graphs which shows the progression over the years but due to reworking the records the graphs are now out of date!   The 2002 Pleasanton Games took a big time chunk out of this work: sometimes you have to stop and just do the thing instead of playing with the story of what went before!

And to borrow a phrase from the guys who operate the website, “Sorry, but I am not going to attempt to keep caber records.” With weighted implements we have a fair degree on comparison from year to year and from place to place, while cabers are – by tacit definition! – implements of continuously variable parameters.  This doesn't mean that I am not interested in cabers.  As with everyone else, the caber bug bit me fairly hard.  Playing the committee guy at a couple of games also made me realize that the caber was the event for many people who just assume that if they're strong, they can do it with no strain.  To counter this and keep people off the field I posted this article several years back.

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The Three Principals

Every event has its motivators...

Malcolm Ramsay

Malcolm immigrated to the U.S. from Glasgow, Scotland in 1960. It was only a few weeks after he arrived here that he attended his first Calie Club meeting and a short time later he joined the Club. He was Sgt-at-Arms in 1968 and Chief in 1971-72. He was responsible for making the connection thru David Webster to get the ball rolling for high class Scottish heavy events at our games. In 1973 he was a Trustee and took the Second Chieftain’s (treasurer) job in 1977 as well as taking a new post of Heavy Events Chairman, along with Gordon Varnedoe. He stayed as the man in charge of the Heavy Events until he “retired” in 1994. As Chairman Emeritus he still comes to give a hand, is still good at finding sponsorships and is probably the only person alive that really understands the 18 trophies and box full of plaques that are awarded each year to the winning athletes.

Malcolm trained and worked in Scotland as a construction design engineer.  In the U.S. for many years for Kennedy/Jenks on the San Francisco peninsula. Evidence of his organized, engineering-type thinking can be seen in the applications, summaries and schedules that allows the competition to dovetail into the other events in the Games.  Malcolm brought all of these organizational skills to bear on this, his avocation, and the results we see today in a well-run and world-famous competition.

From Malcolm’s writeup in 1994: “All-in-all the Caledonian Club can be proud of their contribution to the growth of Heavy events. No one can disagree that they have helped the growth on the west coast and probably throughout the U.S. One thing is sure, the Santa Rosa Games and from now on, the Pleasanton Games, are well known in Scotland. During one of the years when our Games did not land in the same weekend as the Royal Games at Braemar, the secretary of the Braemar Gathering was quoted in the Aberdeen newspaper as saying, ‘We have a much better field of Heavies this year as we are not competing with Santa Rosa.’”

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David P. Webster, O.B.E.

This writeup is from material David submitted as an introduction to one of the World Heavy Events Championships held in Pleasanton.

"I have been interested in and attended Highland games since the late 1930's and first became involved in the organisation of these in 1947. I organised my first major international Highland games in 1963 when 1,500 competitors participated in the Boys Brigade World Highland Games. The following year I took a team of top Scottish athletes to North America, the line up including the great Bill Anderson M.B.E., Jay Scott, Sandy Sutherland, Louis McInnes, Jock McColl and Andy Robin. We toured major venues in New York State, Baltimore, Washington, Rochester, Toronto and Montreal. It was the start of a new life-style for elite Highland heavies and me.

"The main item for the team the next year was the first International floodlit Highland Gathering at the International Sports Exhibition. This was held at the historical and famous Crystal Palace, London. Supplementing our usual stars we had Arthur Rowe, Britain's best shot-putter at the Rome Olympics and my good friend, massive Dave Prowse, who became legendary in his depiction of Darth Vader in Star Wars. Helping a British trade exports drive during that era we appeared in many overseas countries including Sweden, America and Japan and it was as part of this program that we became acquainted with Malcolm Ramsay and the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, in 1971. I loved California and the people, regardless of whether or not they were of Scottish descent and I was determined to forge closer links to cement these sporting and cultural relationships.

"Ideas of major international competitions at overseas Highland games began to be formed at this time. My home town of Aberdeen, Scotland had not had Highland games in the city for more than half a century and the revival of these needed a star attraction to make it unique amongst the many games in the north east, still a stronghold of such gatherings. In order to maintain balance with progress and development at home as well as abroad, in 1970 after discussions with Arrol Winning, noted local authority Parks Director, I proposed a World Caber Tossing Championship. As sponsorship was crucial I was extremely appreciative to obtain assistance in this from John Burns, a whisky executive who later became well known in Highland Games circles. Amongst the international stars I persuaded to compete in World Caber Championships were Eric Hedin, Scandinavian Champion, the Rev. Arnold Pope from America and Colin Mathieson of Australia.

"I learned a lot from these experiences and took the next major step in 1972 when I invited Lord and Lady Aberdeen to travel to Australia for a one-off World Caber tossing championships. It was a one-off, as we wanted to have Aberdeen as the home base for World Championships. Aberdeen City has been blessed with excellent Parks administrators and Arrol Winning's successor and his assistant Forbes Copeland did sterling work for Highland games.

"While in Australia numerous discussions took place and as a result of these the World Highland Games Heavy Events Championships was legally registered in London on 25th May 1973. (Registration Number 28203)

"We consolidated over the next few years with numerous international TV appearances to gain the profile sought by sponsors and I was honoured when the Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire asked me to organise the Queens Jubilee Highland Games at Blair House. This is mentioned as once again it is Jubilee year and the explosion of Highland games, world-wide, as compared with the previous Jubilee is astounding and heart-warming.

"The first World Championship organised in America was in Pomona in southern California near Los Angeles. America’s entries included Fred Vaughan, Tom Johnstone and John Ross. Sir Billy Sneddon, Australia's Speaker in Parliament accompanied Colin Mathieson, the athlete representing Australia in the competition and Sir Billy made a successful bid to host the championship in 1981. It was an outstanding success.

"The World Championships were now well established and have never looked back. The competition for the title has by design moved all over the globe - Europe, Africa, America and Australia, Scandinavia and of course, Scotland, all included. Only this week as I write, Bruce Campbell, the energetic editor of Celtic World, the super newspaper giving the best coverage of Highland games, commended this wide ranging policy."

In addition I need to say that David is the author of over 30 books on Scottish highland heavy events and sports. The most general and well known of these is Scottish Highland Games, published originally by William Collins and Sons, 1959; and his most recent (as of 2002), Donald Dinnie, The First Sporting Superstar, co-authored with Gordon Dinnie, published by Ardo, 1999.

In addition to providing the impetus to get these Games up and going in their present (and Scottish) form, David has encouraged, informed, motivated and generally made certain that Scottish and other international  athletes are available to compete here. He has also provided his expertise on our field as both announcer and interpreter of the events since 1984.

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John Ross

John began competing 1964. In 1958 the Games were held in Kenilworth Park in Petaluma. John, a track and field man at San Jose State, rode his bike to the grounds, heard the bagpipes and knew there was something athletic going on. However he "was too cheap to pay admission and didn’t enter the grounds." (sic)

The winner of the caber competition in 1962 was Al Jongewaard, who was a teammate of John’s at San Jose. John also credits him with being a fine Olympic hammer man. In 1963 Al won the caber again, and in 1964 it was taken by Mike Reid of Pacifica, another friend of John’s and a discus thrower from City College of San Francisco. Mike invited John to try the Games and John was hooked.

In 1965 Richard Gilda of Bellingham, WA, took home the prize (author's note: this may have been the Ballentine caber trophy, as Gilda's name is not on the McClure trophy), and finally, our reluctant participant, John Ross, won the caber toss competition in 1966. In the years between 1967 and 1971 the title moved around between John, Stan Russell, Gordon Varnedoe and a fireman from San Jose named Mike Gilligan.

Here’s is John’s account of how our throwing stones came to be at our games. And I must add a note for outsiders: once you get involved in these games, no river rock can be left without hefting and checking, nobody’s garden with river rocks as decoration is safe from a visiting Scottish athlete!

Origins of Pleasanton Stones

"17lb 6oz – Pros and Amateurs – Calabazas Creek
26lb Braemar – all – Calabazas Creek
This creek is near Glen Ellen in Valley of the Moon, in Sonoma County, California. The Sonoma Aqueduct of the Sonoma County Water Agency (for whom John worked) crosses under the creek at this point. I found these stones while we were working on the pipeline in the 1970s.

"17lb 10oz – masters only – (the round one) 
I found this one in Big Chico Creek, Chico, California, where it runs through Bidwell Park. My brother used to live in Chico and I’m always on the lookout for putting stones.  This was also found in the 1970s. By the way this is the stone that Brian Oldfield used to set the record of 63’ at the Campbell Games."

In addition to all of his throwing through all of these years John has maintained our throwing implements at his own home during the year, brought them to the games and then hauled them back home on the Sunday afternoons.  All of the implements have a blue color code to distinguish them from the SAAA's green coding.  Here is a picture of John and the very stones mentioned here at the 2002 games.

I would also like to set the record straight about John's competing as a Master in 1993, after being a Pro for so long.  In the first place, the Caledonian Club rules of competition provide that the person in last place get no compensation.  The practice has been to pay thru a good number of competitors.  It was through 8th place in 1985, 12th place in 2002.  I drew Malcolm Ramsay's ire in 1997 when - ignorant of the "there must be a loser" rule - I provided something for everyone!  So, back to John.  From 1975 through 1986 John was in last place five times, he missed (or couldn't throw) two years, leaving only four games where he got a few dollars for his efforts.  Combine this with his taking the responsibility for our equipment, and you see an athlete dedicated to his sport, who resisted the move so many others had made over the years of dropping back a class.  In 1992 (at 53) he finally did move down to the A Class, but again, as good as his throws were, the A Class had picked up so John came in 14th out of 16.  If he had chosen to compete in the Bs he would have placed 2nd or 3rd.  In 1993, with the Games moving from his home town of Santa Rosa, John bit the bullet and - at 54 - elected to compete in the Masters Class.  There was some grumbling, but John was merely the forerunner, as can be seen by the record, as all of his "amazing" throws of the 93-96 years have been replaced by "fresh" 50-year-olds coming in from around the country.

Along these same lines there was another incident worth sharing: due to some oversight on my part [didn’t tell him he had a free hotel room??] I owed John some amount of money. Instead of the cash he asked me to please correct the 1975 Open caber championship credit in the program, as it had been wrong for a long time, Brain Oldfield had received the credit for 22 years.

In an award given to John by the Caledonian Club in 2001 we detailed some of John’s contribution in retrospect. Included in this are David Webster’s comment about John.

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Abbreviations and explanations

AD – Athletic Director, usually called Athletics or Heavy Events Chairman in the Caledonian Club literature
Aggregate score – Under our old system the highest score won, while the SAAA system had the winner getting less points and the lowest aggregate won. We switched to the SAAA system in 1997 for uniformity as well as using a single computer program for all Northern California games. 
Braemar – heavy stone named for the Braemar Games and thrown from a fixed position
Calie Club – The Caledonian Club of San Francisco
CCSF – The Caledonian Club of San Francisco, also Calie Club
Games Souvenir Programme – official, printed title for the games program issued each year with its original spelling
nf – not found
PB – personal best or personal record, the athlete’s own record of his or her best throws.
P.C. or P/C – Past Chief, an honorific bestowed upon past Caledonian Club Chiefs, and out of respect for this position they are addressed as such during club meetings and other formal occasions.
PR – see PB
SAAA – Scottish American Athletic Association
SHA - Scottish Heavy Athletics, LLC, who took over Northern California Games servicing in 2003 as the SAAA was experiencing difficulties
– weight for distance
WHGHEC – The World Highland Games Heavy Events Championship
WOB – weight over the bar, also known as weight for height

Standard weights in use today:
Stones vary from games to games but ours are unique!
  - light stone = 17# 6oz 
  - braemar stone = 26#
    (both were acquired by John Ross from Calabazas Creek)
  - masters only = 17# 10oz
    (John found this in Big Chico Creek in Chico, California)
Weights for distance:
  - men’s light = 28#
  - men’s heavy = 56# = half a hundredweight (cwt).  A cwt is 100# in the US and 112# in England, but the weights used in this report are current, real-world weights.
  - masters heavy = 42#
  - women’s light = 14#
  - women’s heavy = 28#
  - men’s light = 16#
  - men’s heavy = 22#
  - women’s light = 12#
  - women’s heavy = 16#
Weight for height
  - men’s = 56#
  - masters = 42#
  - women’s = 28#

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Honors titles  -  Click here for a link to the explanation on the Royal website.

O.B.E. Stands for "Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire." 

M.B.E. Stands for "Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire."

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- Donaldson, Emily Ann, Scottish Highland Games in America, Pelican, 1988.
- MacCollister, R. S., F.S.A. Scot, The Caledonian Club of San Francisco - The First Hundred Years, CCSF 1966, unpublished
- SAAA, The Heavy Events News, the journal of the Scottish American Athletic Association from 1990 ? to 1994?
   - Here are three articles from the SAAA News, written by Charles Black, who always took a scientific approach to his throwing:
     History of the Scottish Heavy Events, Part II - The Individual Events, and  History of the Hammer Throw
- SAAA, 56# Notes, the journal of the Scottish American Athletic Association from 1994? to present
- Webster, David, Scottish Highland Games
 - Webster, David, and Gordon Dinnie, Donald Dinnie,The First Sporting Superstar, Ardo Publishing, 1999.  Ardo is run by Charlie Allen, yet another well-known Scottish athlete, as you will see if you follow the link.
- David's latest work, World History of Highland Games, Luath Press Ltd, 2011, is a wonderfully documented opus magnum and a pleasure to read.


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Copyright Caledonian Club of San Francisco and Jim Jardine, 2002-15.  All rights reserved.
Last updated on December, 2014
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