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16th Annual National Darts Hall of Fame Tournament

"All warfare is based on deception."
--Sun Tzu (The Art of War)

It was a crisp, gray September morning as my uncle and I finished our coffee. "Well Al, time to hit the road," I said. The road-a five hour drive from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Chicago O'Hare airport to catch my flight to Clarksburg, West Virginia, site of the 2002 National Darts Hall of Fame tournament. This time last week, I was preparing to depart for the Windy City Open in Chicago-but that is another story.

Waiting at Clarksburg Benedum Airport was that crusty old Marine, Jim Wall to provide my ground transportation. Jim said we were stopping by a pre-tournament demonstration match and I had no objections. We entered the "Loop" to discover that the event had finished in his absence. A hearty welcome from Charity Dart Systems founder, Jim Poliquin and greetings from the locals made me feel right at home immediately. There were still quite a few players hanging around so Jim Wall and I paired up for a few fun doubles games. Facing us were Keith Mascia and Scott Greene. We started off with cricket and to say the least-we were pretty awesome. The first game was a spanking. Scott got called to his pool game, so Terry Stromer joined Keith as his partner. Terry immediately began abusing me about not having the article from the 2001 tournament published-hey, I just write them-I don't publish them… It just didn't matter-we snatched the victory in the next two games. They decided it was time to switch to 501. This time it was the doubles that failed us-and we ended the evening 3-2 overall. Such is darts. Time to check-in to the Greenbrier, my accommodations for the weekend. We piled into Jim's pickup and away we went.

After making the necessary adjustments to my reservations, I think I got to kick Jerry Umberger out of his room, I head to MY room-another fine accommodation. A stop by the hotel bar to stock the refrigerator-and start these notes-and for me, the tournament has officially started.

It's Friday now-having had a restful night-I was ready for the tournament to begin. How do you say "sombich?" As the opening quote above alludes, deception-the art of war…Jim Poliquin stated there would be some surprises tonight-and this was one of them. It wasn't the darts, the appearance of many top darters-no, it was definitely something more personal. He drew me here under false pretenses-even if I had already made plans to attend. "Stay close," he said, "there's a guy who will only be here tonight-he has season tickets to the University of West Virginia football games-and won't be back tomorrow." Of course I complied-the induction of someone into the National Darts Hall of Fame-a definite Kodak® moment. I waited for the mystery name to be announced. The speaker bellowed-"How many Veterans are in the crowd?" There were about a dozen of us in the crowd with hands raised. "How many ever threw darts overseas?" Many of the hands lowered. "Who threw darts in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore?" SOMBICH! I then realized amongst the assembled crowd-there could only be one-ME! And with that-Jim Poliquin presented me with my plaque inducting me into the National Darts Hall of Fame-Class of 2002. I think my old friend Dartoid summed it up best-"what the hell did I do to get here?" Obviously, it wasn't for my playing ability-even if I can beat Dartoid. Maybe, it was for my Top Eight finish in the Penang Open in Malaysia in 1994 or maybe the Yokosuka Naval Base Singles Championship in Japan in 1989? Needless to say, it is a humbling experience-wished upon all who throw darts-because as Dartoid pointed out in his 2001 article: you don't run for this; you can't bribe the judges-it's a secret ballot among a mystical, unnamed group compromising the selection committee. As I sit in my room later-watching ESPN®, I hear Larry Bird announcing the induction of Ervin "Magic" Johnson into the Basketball Hall of Fame…how special is tonight? Just a couple of Michigan guys-who done good. Only those who have been there will know…and, personally-I wish all dart players to have the night I have just had.

As I peer out to the back of the hall-I notice a new entrant-none other than 1988 Hall of Fame inductee-Jerry Umberger. It gets harder to express the emotions-considering the elite fraternity I have just been added to. How did I get here? Had to be the times I beat Dartoid.

Speaking later with Jim-he has stated that future selections will be done differently-sort of. Rather than trying to monitor all tournaments across the nation, getting input from selected groups of regional 'sources' and throwing in the miscellaneous ballot here and there-they want to go to a national nomination system. If you have someone you consider deserving of consideration-send it to him…snail mail or e-mail (Dartmannational@aol.com) or Jim Wall (DartsCAD@aol.com). Bulletin boards, street signs, TV commercials and flyer campaigns will not be accepted.

The Charity Dart System National Darts Hall of Fame has selected the University of West Virginia Children's Hospital as the recipient of the monies raised from the tournaments. Sounds like a good investment to me. Jim also announced that the National Darts Hall of Fame is inching closer to having a real home. Negotiations are underway and only time and finances will tell. It may not be Canton or Cooperstown-but it will be ours in Clarksburg.

But back to the tournament-it's Friday night and there are two Luck of the Draws to start off the tournament. In the first 501 Luck-Ed Rebstock and his partner, Tom White, gave it a Herculean effort-Ed throwing a maximum in both the second and third leg-but all for naught as Tom Stewart and Kerry Anthony found the winning doubles in the third leg to take the top prize.

In the final draw doubles of the night (Chicago Format)-Howard Grimm and Pattie Rodgers faced off against, guess who, Ed Rebstock and partner Alan Matthews-just mentioning those two names in the same sentence should bring some fear into many hearts...yes, you guessed it-Ed and Alan split the winning paycheck.

The bar signaled it was time-and those who remained agreed. Jim gathered up his paperwork and back to the Greenbrier we went-he, most likely to bed-and me, here on the keyboard. One more and the pillow calls. The crack of noon will come too soon-it's a dart tournament!

Coffee, Java, Cuppa Joe, what ever you call it-it beckons. The above referenced crack has appeared.

We are off to the Moose Lodge 52 hall-a very nice venue-for a full day of darts. The Tom and Deb Stewart Taxi Company provided transportation. Next time, I'll tip the driver better… Today, I have the laptop in tow (and Hall of Fame plaque securely tucked away!).

Today's events include Mixed Doubles 501, Men's Singles Cricket, Ladies Singles Cricket, Ladies Doubles 501, Men's Doubles 501, Men's Doubles Cricket, Ladies Doubles Cricket, the National Dart Hall of Fame Banquet and Award Ceremony, and Luck of the Draw. Truly, this should be a full day of darts and fun.

Coming all the way from Virginia Beach, Virginia, "Sir George" Sizemore, another of us crusty old Navy Chief's, has the "Bit of England Dart and Game Shoppe" set up in the corner to provide the needed supplies for the players-flights, shafts, shirts, etc.

Starting off the day-Mixed Doubles 501. Meeting in the finals, Chris and Linda Bender faced off against Tim Hopkins and Jennifer Ehlert. With a marvelous 129 finish, Chris and Linda took the first leg. In the second leg, Chris missed the double bull on the attempt at 89, leaving the door open for Tim to peg the Double 10 for the win. The third leg saw Jennifer hit the 78 finish for the win and the top prize.

ADA President Glenn Remick was here to announce the joining of the ADA with the Charity Dart System National Dart Hall of Fame for a unified Hall of Fame. This union will present even greater opportunities to raise needed money for charity, with both steel tip and soft tip tournaments generating money for the cause.

Men's Singles Cricket is underway…and the field has been whittled down to Jerry Umberger and Tom Stewart. Displaying his form of old-your 2002 Men's Singles Cricket Champion-Jerry Umberger.

The Ladies Doubles 501 finals have arrived. Mary MacDonald and Christine Campbell squared off against Deb Lewis and Jennifer Ehlert. When the final double was thrown-Mary MacDonald and Christine Campbell claimed top prize.

Men's Doubles 501 has seen some serious competition-but now we are down to the final pairings. Gary Stone and Darren Parzow and Jim Schmuck and partner Larry Jenkins will meet in the finals. Gary and Darren proved too strong and claimed the top prize.

Ladies Singles Cricket finals saw Christine Campbell facing off against Kathy Kneff. The Ladies Singles Cricket Champion for 2002 is Christine Campbell.

Taking a pause in the action, Jim Poliquin announced the inductees into the National Dart Hall of Fame for 2002. Ladies and gentleman:

Hall of Fame Class of 2002:

Gary Stone (Player) England
Tom Bell (Player) West Virginia
Mary McDonald (Player) Canada
Sharon Borgeson (Player) Virginia
Glenn Remick (Promoter) Missouri
David Thibault (Youth) Virginia
George Sizemore (Behind the Scenes/Promoter) Virginia
Bruce Gerber (Behind the Scenes/Promoter) Michigan

Special Award:

Tournament Darts International Jerry Umberger Legion of Goodwill Award - Tom and Debbie Stewart (Pennsylvania).

Returning to the action-Men's Doubles Cricket was the next event. In the final pairings, we have Ed Rebstock and Tom Stewart set to challenge Gary Stone and Darren Parzow for the title. This time, Gary and Darren couldn't keep the string alive and fell to your champions, Ed and Tom.

The Ladies Doubles Cricket featured Mary McDonald and Christine Campbell facing Paula Bushey and Sue Skinner. Continuing that winning tradition, Mary and Christine claimed the title.

What would a dart tournament with out a flasher-supposedly, she was a local showing off her new tattoo. It wasn't really a full flash-just a tease. Well, this is West Virginia…

The final event of the evening is the Luck of the Draw…two of the tournaments best were facing off-Tom Stewart with partner Matt Koons, and Mary McDonald and partner Chris Kohut. Once again, Tom and his partner took the top prize.

Jim gives me the high sign that the "bus" is leaving the station. The amber beverages have been flowing since the sun was over the yardarm-it must be pillow time.

Sunday has arrived…once again, way, way to early. Intravenous caffeine and we are ready to face the day.

The first event of the morning is a ten minute Charity Shoot for the University of West Virginia Children's Hospital. Alan Matthews organized this charity shoot. Local players gathered pledges for either a set amount-or the more daring-per point scored. Some gathered both to raise their combined pledge total. Each player had a pledge sheet and a scorekeeper to tally their point totals. Pledges ranged from one cent a point to 10 cents a point or more. The University of West Virginia Children's Hospital will receive the donation from this event. At the end of ten minutes of shooting, the totals were:

Name/points/total raised:

John Cutler/1069/$276.06
Chris Bender/702/$100.00
Tom Stewart/819/$100.00
Terry Stromer/576/$28.80
Mike McLaurin/478/$261.16

Total Points: 3644
Total Raised: $766.02

Not a bad total for ten minutes of darts-I'm sure the Children's Hospital will appreciate it.

Mixed Triples 601 start the official events for Sunday. The team of Tom Stewart/Deb Stewart/Ed Rebstock toed the o'che against the team of Gary Stone/Terry Stromer/Darren Parzow. The finals-a familiar site for all. With the last double-Gary, Terry and Darren claimed the team prize.

The winner of the raffle for the one of a kind 2002 National Hall of Fame Tournament jacket was Nancy McClain. Congratulations.

The final 50/50 raffle was held. Over the course of the weekend, $1009 was raised for donation to the Children's Hospital. Way to go folks! Total donations raised to this point--$1775.02.

Singles 501 is the final event of the tournament. For the distaff side, Mary McDonald and Sally Moran faced off for the title. Your 2002 National Darts Hall of Fame 501 Ladies Singles Champion-Sally Moran.

The Men's final brings together Alan Matthews and Tom Stewart. Ashley Holgate provided the throw-by-throw commentary-as only a Brit could. In a truly championship caliber final, Tom defeated Alan to claim the 2002 Hall of Fame 501 title.

For the Men's Most Valuable Player-the selection was easy-Tom Stewart. The Ladies MVP Award was nip and tuck-down to the final event. The 2002 Ladies MVP-and Hall of Fame inductee-Mary McDonald.

And now it's over. That eternal tournament scene-teardown has commenced. The crew of volunteers swarm the boards like ants on honey and in short order-the hall is returned to its' original condition. Now comes the paperwork-everyone knows that the job is never complete until all the paperwork is done. But this will be done back at the Greenbrier, so we pack up the laptop and mosey down the road. All that's left now is the wait until the zero dark ungodly flight back to Chicago to pick up my truck and the ensuing three hour drive-back to work first-then home.

To the staff, participants, and my fellow Hall of Fame inductees-a hearty "Job Well Done." It was another outstanding tournament run by the Charity Dart System and Mr. Jim Poliquin and his staff.

--Reporting from Moose Lodge 52, Clarksburg, West Virginia-Bruce W Gerber.

Copyright © 2002. Bruce W Gerber. All rights reserved.

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