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National Dart Hall of Fame Tournament 2004

"Christmas in July"

"Generosity lies less in giving much
than in giving at the right moment."

--Jean De La Bruyère
"Of the Heart," aph. 47 (1688)

"The best laid plans"…yada yada. I know this weekend will be good-it has already started out on Plan "B" or maybe "C." My favorite bar proprietor and dart promoter, Marty Huver from Grand Rapids, Michigan, had decided to attend the tournament this year with me. We were supposed to meet at the airport to fly down to Frederick, Maryland together. A bit of traffic congestion and I soon discovered that they strictly enforce the 30-minute early check in rule. I was only two minutes late, for cripes sakes!

Therefore, off Marty flew to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport without me. Fast talk and a sweet smile got me on the next flight-and a quick call to Marty to let him know that I would be along later.

Fast forward-I arrive at Ronald Reagan, and there is Marty patiently waiting. Retrieve my luggage and board the bus to the car rental - seemingly located in another county-and pick up the car.

Just prior to leaving home Friday morning-I did a quick MapQuest® print of the directions from the airport to Frederick, Maryland. Usually, MapQuest® is pretty accurate. Well, either we zigged when we should have zagged or, I do not know-but we had a wonderful tour of Downtown Washington, D.C., the Monuments, and various parts of the Maryland/Northern Virginia countryside. With me driving and Marty navigating-we eventually figured out that we needed to take our other left, and lo and behold-Frederick, Maryland appeared in front of us.

Check-in time. The hotel elevator is under repair, fortunately-my room is on the first floor. Marty, on the other hand, was on the second floor. We trundled to our respective rooms, dropped off our baggage and proceeded to the ballroom-where all the action was about to begin. In my traditional fashion, the Three "B's" - Boss, Boards, and Bar. Standing at the entrance was the Boss, Jim Poliquin. Hearty greetings were exchanged and the "how you been's" began with Tom and Deb Stewart, Alan Matthews, my old Navy buddy Chris Bender and his Virginia Beach cohort and fellow sailor, George Sizemore.

More familiar faces and greetings later, I finally was directed to my "personal corner" for writing this tome. This year, I 'acquired' two assistants: Ashley Manuel and Courtney Axline, Jim Poliquin's grand and great grand children. Both were "knee high to a grasshopper" and just as cute. They quickly began providing editorial commentary on yours' truly' writing already…

To quote Dartoid,"Damn, Everyone is a critic…" Speaking of whom-he already declared his "pussy" status BEFORE he went to Las Vegas. "I have to go somewhere," he moaned.

A table was set up in the corner where contributors could drop off their "Christmas in July" presents going to the Frederick Memorial Hospital Children's Cancer Ward, Frederick, Maryland. The pile of toys seemed to grow as the evening progressed. A well deserving organization gets an early Christmas.

The calls are made-Game On! The Luck of the Draw 501 is underway. Some interesting pairings-time and darts will give us our winners. The final pit Johnny "K" Kuczynski and (can you believe it-another former sailor!) Joe Calogero against West Virginia's Jim Schmuck and Chris Axline. The winners are Johnny K and Joe.

The van was missing this year-everybody had a room. There you go, Rudy.

The final event for Friday evening was the Luck of the Draw - Chicago format-501/Cricket/Cork for Choice. Another excellent turnout means it will be a long night, but that is all right-it is a dart tournament. In a thrilling finish-Brad White and David Thibault defeated Don Green and Tom Stewart to claim the top prize.

It's that time-pack up the laptop and head to the room for a few more hours of typing, searching the Internet to find a tournament date for Alan Matthews, a brew or two, and then bed. Having successfully found the tourney dates for Alan, I know the crack of noon comes too soon at a dart tournament. Pillow-here I come.

Some idiot set off their car alarm-but it was time to get up anyway. Jump in the shower and it is back to the hall. My first mission is to find coffee. Amazingly, there was none to be found. The restaurant was closed, so I checked with-whom else-the bartender! He graciously trotted off to the kitchen and retrieved me a cup of joe. The world is good.

The most ominous sound is that sickening click you hear as your hotel room door closes behind you and you realize-I do not have my key. Marty swears it was my entire fault. It was not really. Fortunately, housekeeping was just down the corridor and she came to the rescue.

The morning started with the 501 Doubles-Open and Ladies. The finals for the men featured Alan Matthews and Jim Schmuck facing off against Mark Daly and David Thibault. When the final dart was thrown-Alan and Jim claimed the first place prize. On the distaff side-Lisa Lima and Lou Boone toed the line against Deb Bond and Belynda Hicks. The Ladies Double 501 champions were Lisa and Lou.

It seems that every tournament I go to-there has to be a Leprechaun sighting. This tournament was no exception-and it wasn't Phil Fried this time!

Next on the line-up, Cricket-Men's and Ladies. The men presented John "Johnny K" Kuczynski against Roger Wrisley. In a thrilling final-Johnny K proved too strong and claimed the Men's First Place. The Ladies final brought together Lisa Lima and Doreen Berry. Another thrilling match to the wire and Lisa claimed the first prize.

It was time for the break-and the "Hall of Fame" banquet and award ceremony. As the dinner line wound down, the microphone came alive. It was time to announce the National Dart Hall of Fame Class of 2004.

Ray Carver - Player, NH
Tom Vigna - Player, PA
Joe Hogan - Player, NY
Darren Parzow - Player, VA
Christina Campbell - Player, KY
Chris Bender - Promoter, VA
Martin Huver - Promoter, MI
W.A.D.A - Promoter, Washington, DC
Robyn Bishop - Behind the Scenes, MD

After a wonderful dinner, the induction ceremony, and a special presentation by Tom Stewart, on behalf of the Hall of Fame Board, it was time to start playing again. Mixed Triples-Game On!

This may sound exciting-but, that "Old Marine" Jim Wall declared-"Squid-you, me and Sandi Loveless" we are a triples team." You really hate to argue with a Marine-even if you could. So, a "Hall of Fame" team was set…and whom do we draw for the first round? Almost another "Hall of Fame" team-Tom and Deb Stewart (2 out of 3) and John Brown (a.k.a. JB). The giggles abounded, and in the end-let us just say-time for me to set down and keep writing. Probably the best part was the fact that I had drawn Marty into a "forced" triples union-with Linda Bender and another guy. They won their first round-and I applied the curse-they had to play against the trio that sent us packing… It worked-Marty, Linda & Co. got the Stewart's & Co. Technically, they "performed" better-however, the result was the same. Grab some bench Marty. No offense meant or intended.

And then there was the Big Dog…wait, that's not how the story goes. How about "bulldog." That is the real story. Ask Darren Parzow about it-it really is a good story.

Amazingly enough, the Stewart's & Co not only survived, they survived to face the trio of Mark Daly, Ronda Thrailkille, and David Thibault. When the last dart was thrown, Tom and Deb Stewart and John Brown claimed the top prize in mixed Triples.

The next event of the evening was the Doubles Cricket-Men's and Ladies. In the Men's category, John Brown and Tom Stewart, (their names are showing up too often here), faced Mark Daly and David Thibault (again). Tom and John showed their mettle and claimed the victory. On the distaff side, Debbie Stewart and Christine Campbell squared off against Lisa Spritz and Paula Bushey. Your Ladies Doubles Cricket champions-Lisa and Paula.

It was that time-pack up the laptop and head to the room for some writing, check e-mail and call it a night. Sunday is already here-it is going to be another long day. The first event of the day was a solo shot-I had been nominated by Jim Poliquin to shoot a "Rapid Fire for Charity." A young boy named Kyle Jenkins of Inwood, Maryland is suffering from a rare muscle disease-so rare that they do not even have a name for it. In an effort to assist the family in defraying their mounting medical bills, the National Dart Hall of Fame set up cans to collect money for the family. I had five minutes to see how many points I could score with sponsors donating money. With the able assistance of Hall of Fame member Chris Bender, serving as the keeper of time and score, I was able to score 983 points resulting in a personal total of $203. The total raised by the Hall of Fame was $950.

Hall of Famer Jerry Umberger stopped in to participate in the first tournament event of the day, the Mixed Triples Cricket. In the finals, we have Johnny Kuczynski, Chucky Kuczynski, and Laurette Meddis facing off against Howard Grimm, Christine Campbell, and Bob Walton. Your Mixed Triples Cricket champions are John, Chucky, and Laurette.

We have come to the premier event of the tournament-Singles 501. Facing off in the Men's category-John Kuczynski and Howard Grimm. Claiming the top prize-Johnny "K." For the ladies, it was defending champion Sandi Lawless versus Lou Boone. Claiming her second title-Sandi Lawless.

In a tradition started in Clarksburg in 2003, Jim Poliquin then presented the National Dart Hall of Fame autographed dartboards to John and Sandi, the respective Singles 501 champions.

So, now it is over. The teardown crews are attacking the stands like ants at a picnic. Boxes are being stuffed with notebooks, markers and all the accoutrements used during the weekend. As the cacophony and dust settle in the Holiday Inn-a board meeting is held. The primary topic - the future. One of the initiatives has come to fruition. The National Dart Hall of Fame is proud to announce their new website: It is still "under construction" but all are invited to see the progress that has been made on the website. I suggest you check it out!

The matters at hand taken care of, it is time to toddle back to the room and put fingers to keyboard to finish this tome. The final chapter, of course, will be the ride back to the airport on Monday-hopefully, a little more direct than the trip to Frederick.

Monday morning arrives too early as usual. My traveling companion and newly inducted Hall of Famer, Marty Huver, tosses his bag in the rental car and off we go toward Reagan Airport. Aside from basic Washington, D.C. morning traffic, the return trip is just a lovely ride through the countryside of Maryland. Bus ride back to the terminal, board our plane and we are Grand Rapids bound. A gate change in Detroit slowed us down a bit-but we returned in a timely fashion overall.

Another excellent National Dart Hall of Fame tournament and banquet are in the books. The tournament committee and the Holiday Inn-Fort Detrick had performed flawlessly as usual. I just cannot wait until the next one.

Reporting from the Holiday Inn-Fort Detrick, MD, Bruce Gerber.

Copyright © 2004. Bruce W. Gerber. All rights reserved.

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