Actively serving the polo community into his 70s as U.S. Chairman of the Rules Committee and board member of the Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame, Stephen Orthwein lived a life highlighted by both his uncompromising code of conduct on the field and desire to give back to the sport he loved. Winning the Hugo Dalmar Trophy in 1988, Mr. Orthwein was posthumously recognized again three decades later, his 2018 award accepted graciously by his wife, Ginny Orthwein, and son Stephen Orthwein Jr. during the USPA/Polo Training Foundation (PTF) awards ceremony at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Presented in memory of American player Hugo Dalmar and his contributions to the USPA, this national award is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the sportsmanship characteristics inherent to the sport of polo. Dalmar himself was honored after his passing with the 2009 Philip Iglehart Award for his contributions to the game of polo.
Born October 28, 1945, to the renowned Busch brewing family, Mr. Orthwein spent his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. Polo was a way of life for the Orthwein family and he, along with his brothers Dolph Jr. and Peter, learned to ride and swing a mallet at a young age from their father, Dolph Orthwein. Mr. Orthwein carried his love of the sport to Yale University, where he captained back-to-back national championships in 1967 and 1968 beating the Cornell team captained by his brother Peter. Also in 1967, he won his first major USPA tournament, the National Sixteen Goal, with a family team consisting of his father, twin brother Peter, and Benny Gutierrez.
Throughout the next several decades he competed in many national and international events, and in 1969 he was selected to represent the United States in Pakistan and won the Pakistani Open. His numerous polo accomplishments include the Butler Handicap in 1975 and 1979; and the Monty Waterbury title in 1977. Additionally, he won the National Copper Cup® title in 1997 with the St. Louis Polo Team. Mr. Orthwein achieved a 6-goal handicap, and at one time was the highest-rated amateur player in the United States.
In the early 1970s Mr. Orthwein was elected Captain of the St. Louis Polo Club, a position he held for most of the next three decades and introduced many great players to the sport. As the St. Louis Polo Club Delegate, Mr. Orthwein became involved in the United States Polo Association and played an integral role in the development of the sport across the country. While working with the USPA, he served as Secretary from 1984 to 1988, President from 1988 to 1991, and Chairman from 1991 to 1995. In 2001, Mr. Orthwein became Chairman of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, a position he held until 2010. While serving there, one of his major accomplishments was to bring the illustrious Westchester Cup back into play on U.S. soil for the first time in 70 years, when it was played in February 2009 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Losing his father a little over a month prior to the awards ceremony, Stephen Orthwein, Jr. was touched to receive the tribute to his father’s legacy and accomplishments for polo. “The Hugo Dalmar Trophy is an award which encompasses all the aspects of the sport that my father loved – the competition, fairness, team play, camaraderie and the community,” Orthwein Jr. shared. “When he won the award 30 years ago he felt that was his greatest achievement. He was humbled by it then and my mother says she remembers him going to tears when he won because he was so proud. He would have been very honored to have won this year, as we are.” Instilled with the values of sportsmanship and integrity growing up, Orthwein Jr. emphasized his father’s commitment to fair competition and ethics even at the cost of winning. “It was never about a single game, but about many games and the idea that there’s always another one,” Orthwein Jr. said. “Andy Busch remembers my dad hitting a game winning shot which the flagger said was in. Everyone thought it was in except my dad who called his own shot as being out. He enjoyed the challenge of polo, but he couldn’t handle winning if he didn’t feel like he deserved it.”
Establishing Port Mayaca Polo Club in 2007 in Okeechobee, Florida, Mr. Orthwein made his vision a reality, creating a new haven for polo enthusiasts to collaborate not far from his residence in Wellington, Florida. Serving in many capacities over the years from United States Ambassador to the Federation of International Polo to Zone A Director, Mr. Orthwein seized numerous opportunities to ensure the health and longevity of the sport for years to come. Following in his influential footsteps, USPA Governor-at-Large Orthwein Jr. is on a similar path to shaping the development of polo in the United States to inspire the next generation.