This is the story of when a genius mind and a all-American recreational activity COLLIDE! Franklin Anderson Gilmore had a dream to bring the sport of Horseshoes to the nation in a BIG way - and he almost made it happen.
It all began in his home town of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Franklin (lovingly called FAG by his friends) and his wife, Henrietta, (loving called HAG by her friends) were relaxing on Ft. Lauderdales famous Hallandale Beach sipping on their favorite drink the "Mongolian Mother" when FAG notice some "dudes" tossing horse shoes into a makeshift pit. He was amazed by all the other men this team of guys had attracted to their affair and... well lets just say a light exploded in FAG's head! He turned to the love of his life and said "...HAG my dear, I'm gonna start a horseshoein' league ..."
HAG wasn't blown away by the concept initially because the group they were watching that afternoon were primarily what HAG called "dandies" and she wasn't sure that they should be associated with a sport that appeals to folks like that. FAG assured her that the sport had a diverse and historied background of "normal" people and that she should not worry that all they would attract is "funny boys". She relented and agreed to "come along for the ride" as she put it.
FAG's vision was to stay on the Florida coast originally and make it a beach competition. Quickly he found that by limiting the area to Florida beaches exclusively all he could attract were the "dandies" - so he quickly nixed that idea and expanded his vision to a national focus. He wanted to bring Horsehoein' to the small screen (television) too!
FAG began roaming the country to drum up league franchises. Original fees were based on location and population of areas agreeing to start a team. First tier areas like Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta would pay $75,000 as an entry fee to get the league started. He found NO takers at this price. So he decided to focus on the second tier markets such as; Rancho Cucamonga; Poughkeepsie, NY; Worchester, MA; and Gary, IN to name a few. These teams would have to pay only $50,000 as an entry fee into the league.
He ran print advertisements and radio commercials in these areas hoping to gain interest and league franchise agreements - he hit pay dirt! Before you knew it not only did he have Rancho Cucamonga, Poughkeepsie and Worchester signed up, but he also had the towns of Gary, IN; Bakersfield, CA; Grand Forks, ND; Billings, MT; and Rochester, MN banging on his door to get information on how to establish a franchise. Every group signed up and paid their respective franchisee fees, except Billings who (as FAG put it) "...turned ghost white and ran for the door..." when the amount of a franchise was disclosed. Everything seemed to be progressing nicely when... something (a nasty sore) began to fester in Rochester, Minnesota.
It seems that a local pastor, Pastor Dick Cocks, was spearheading the group purchasing the Rochester, MN franchise. There became some concern that the good pastor had illegally obtained money from his congregation to purchase the franchise and was now under scrutiny from his "flock" as well as Uncle Sam (IRS). He began a campaign to terminate the franchise agreement and get the franchise fee back from FAG and the league. The Pastor issued accusations that FAG had made verbal assurances about a 500 mile buffer zone from competing cities to be granted franchises, both Grand Forks and Gary were well within this buffer zone. And that this constituted a breach of contract. Well FAG would have none of it and instructed Benjamin "Scooter" Anderson Gilmore (league trustee) to give a league reply to Pastor Cocks - stating that he could basically "...wish in one hand and you know what in the other...(paraphrasing)" if he ever thought he was going to get that fee back.
Then other owners began to question the management of the league (made up of FAG, HAG, Scooter, and Scooter's wife Nola) as to season ticket mismanagement, league merchandise being sold and the proceeds disappearing, and the fact that FAG paid only $50k for his Ft. Lauderdale franchise instead of the $75k that would be insisted on for a first tier region such as Ft. Lauderdale. FAG basically told them to (I'm paraphrasing again) "...take their complaints to the complaint department, they could find it right behind the 'go to hell' department..." or something like that anyway. Interestingly enough the Rancho Cucamonga and the Worchester franchises did receive their intial fees back - no coincidence that the owners were related to the Gilmore family in some fashion. The rest of the team owners lawyered up and began a suit against the league and FAG individually.
The results of the litigation are sealed to this day but lets just say that FAG made out like a bandit. As a matter of urban legend the team owners involved in the law suit called him "racoon" or just "coon" because of the famous eye covering that resembles a bank robbers that the nocturnal animal sports. Some folks say that is just rumor and they called him "coon" for other reasons.