East County Horseshoe Club perfects the long pitch

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Sometimes the simplest games are the best, bring out the greatest in players, and never grow old. Two stakes, soft earth, and two arcs of metal are the only necessities for a game of horseshoes. Playing this simple game competitively for 39 years may explain the longevity and vitality of Everett “Red” Seaman. Horseshoes could be the secret ingredient in Seaman’s recipe for a long, happy life.

Sometimes the simplest games are the best, bring out the greatest in players, and never grow old. Two stakes, soft earth, and two arcs of metal are the only necessities for a game of horseshoes. Playing this simple game competitively for 39 years may explain the longevity and vitality of Everett “Red” Seaman. Horseshoes could be the secret ingredient in Seaman’s recipe for a long, happy life.

“Red” Seaman, regarded by many as the granddaddy of San Diego horseshoe play, turned 88 on Aug. 18, and members of local horseshoe clubs he helped foster turned out to celebrate his birthday and his best-ever finish taking second place in July’s National Horseshoe Pitchers Association World Tournament in St. George, Utah. Seaman’s ride arrangements for attending the Utah event collapsed, so he took buses for travel to the competition, and then scored his highest win.

Seaman has been in 11 World Tournaments and earned his last win in 1993. He serves as local contact for the Senior Olympics, where players pitch according to age, not percentage-wise. He has racked up over 30 blue ribbons at the Senior Olympics and taken home a couple of silver medals too.

Horseshoe contests are family events, featuring players of varying ages, with competitive joshing as much part of the game as pitching. Women, juniors, seniors, and disabled can compete in the 30 Foot Division field of play, while the open men’s competition is in the 40 Foot Division. Players vie in different assigned classes, based on their skill levels. Seaman now competes in the Elder Division. He notes that even with seniority, the mental aspect of the game never disappears, as his recent World Tournament opponent accused him of stepping outside the pitching box to throw off his game.

“You can’t let the pressure bother you,” he said.

After the couple enjoyed 10 years of backyard pitching, Seaman’s wife read a newspaper article about the Balboa Horseshoe Club, where “Red” began formal, sanctioned play. He earned his nickname for his then-red hair. Seaman confesses, laughing, to being a “complete nut” over the sport. Seaman was a charter member of the East County Horseshoe Club (ECHC), assisted organizing the club in 1988, based on his East County ties. He lived in El Cajon until the early 1950s and he remains a member of American Legion Post 258 in Alpine, where ECHC currently conducts official meetings. Seaman has been elected to the Southern California Horseshoe Pitchers Association Hall of Fame.

ECHC membership is drawn from throughout East County. Officially founded in Santee in 1990 with 85 members, the club now has 55 horseshoe pitchers on its roster and conducts official meetings at American Legion Post in Alpine. For friendly, weekday evening games, club members gather at member Mike Garcia’s El Cajon home, where Garcia built two “horseshoe pits from heaven.”

Steve Carrillo, Jr., currently serving as ECHC vice president, in early August took this year’s bounty at the 17th annual Horseshoe Tournament at Fisherman’s Landing Resort on the Colorado River, beating winners from the prior four years. Carrillo was a third-place champion at St. George, Utah’s National Horseshoe Pitchers Association World Tournament. Jay Stahl, ECHC president, was a 2009 World-Class Champion at the World Competition

A year from now, the California State Championships for 2014 competitive horseshoe pitchers will be held in Balboa Park for the first time since 1988, and Seaman is assisting with maintaining and improving the 17 clay pits there.

“Horseshoes,” he said. “It’s about fun, fun, fun. I believe in that, always have.”

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