Elmer Boeseke

It was no surpise when the late Elmer Boeseke decided to take up the sport of polo. For starters, it was the Boeseke family that started polo matches in Santa Barbara on a dirt field on San Andreas Street back in the 1890s. And at one time, there was an all-Boeseke polo team that competed.

Elmer Boeseke, whose father was a two-time mayor of Santa Barbara, got interested in riding horses at a very young age, according to his cousin Cedric Boeseke. “I think he learned how to ride before he learned to walk. He was always on a horse on his Dad’s ranch.” Elmer’s talent in polo was such that he is the only native Santa Barbara polo player to achieve the ranking of 10 goals – the highest honor bestowed upon a player.

Elmer achieved international recognition as a polo player back in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a member of the United States’ polo team that won the gold medal in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. The Olympic Committee dropped polo as one of its sports after that. In addition to winning a gold medal in the Olympics, Elmer Boeseke was on the American polo team that upset the Argentines in Buenos Aires in 1932. That same year, he played a team of western players that defeated the top players from the East in a challenge match. In 1933, Boeseke was on the National Open Championship team.

Whenever local polo players today talk about their sport, the family name of Boeseke is always brought up, especially the name of Elmer Boeseke, the greatest polo player to ever come out of Santa Barbara.