Tourney honors horseshoe pitcher

June 15, 2013

The Dallas Area Horseshoe Club will honor the long career of Al “Peanuts” Long during its next National Horseshoe Pitchers Association-sanctioned event, a tournament scheduled for June 22 at the Luzerne County Fairgrounds.

The event will be known as the Peanuts Long Appreciation Tournament.

Long played a prominent role in building the game locally, served as tournament director for the Dallas club for 19 years and remains a strong competitor. The 86-year-old, who is a former Dallas resident, currently lives in Hunlock Creek.

Tournament director Dale Estep said it is common for the club to name one of its two yearly events after a recently-deceased member in a one-time memorial. This time, they will celebrate the contributions of one of their most decorated members, who is still a big part of the competition.

Long won six sanctioned events last year, took second in another and third in two more.

Pitchers have to be members of the NHPA to participate in the Dallas Area events, which are also part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Estep said most tournaments at the fairgrounds draw fields between 45 and 50 pitchers with most from Pennsylvania and New York and sometimes a few from New Jersey or Maryland.

Estep said the tournament consists of three flights of about 16 pitchers. The first flight will compete from 8 a.m. to noon. Long will be recognized during a ceremony between noon and 1. The last two flights compete from 1 to 5 p.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m.

In 1977, Long was part of a group that bought a horseshoe building in southern Pennsylvania for $1,400 and paid another $100 to relocate it as the first building on what is now the Luzerne County Fairgrounds. They later put in five outdoor courts, then added three more.

“The two indoor courts in the horseshoe building give us the ability to pitch all winter,” Estep said. “Peanuts has been instrumental in bringing horseshoes into the area.”

Long was inducted into the Pennsylvania Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame in 1991 as both a pitcher and a presenter. He has competed in eight world championship events, winning once, and has won multiple state titles.