ON POINT

Dan William Peek
Special to PhillyDarts.com
February 2002
 

 Pebble Publishing


My wife, Joy, and I had planned to take the month of February off from our book promotion tour. To The Point: The Story of Darts in America is doing quite well in the market and we thought a few weeks of rest at our home in rural Missouri would be beneficial. Then Linda Stockman, a fellow Missourian who happens to be the ADO's National Youth Director, told us about the 21st Joplin Tri-State Open, in Joplin, Missouri on February 15-17. It's a four hour drive from our house, so we'll be there.  Dart tournaments are just too much fun to miss.

I have committed to write a piece for PhillyDarts.com every two or three months. I want to thank Mike Broderick and PhillyDarts.com for providing this opportunity to discuss To The Point and darts in general and to report on the adventures of the road. Joy and I look forward to hearing from readers of the book and of this column.

In the course of our travels and about twenty interviews with newspaper, radio and television reporters during these past couple of months, we've identified a few frequently asked questions. Here's the top 5 FAQ on To The Point.

1) Q. Why did you write a book about darts in America?

A. The short answer is that I discovered a unique and very interesting part of America's cultural history that had been completely overlooked. As I researched the sport in this country, I found that there was huge story there that had never been told. At that point, I really had no choice but to write the book. I always say that I didn't find this story, it found me.

2) Q.  Why do you think no other writer found the subject of interest?

A. I think there are a lot of reasons. As I point out in the book, the media has not been particularly kind to the sport of darts. The journalism community has taken a dismissive attitude toward darts, for the most part. That attitude may have turned prospective writers away from the subject.
I think too that the degree of difficulty had something to do with it. There were several times in the five or so years it took me to complete the research and writing of the book that I felt discouraged of ever gathering the kind of information that is necessary to make a story real. Darts is folkloric in nature. Most of the stories in the darts culture are oral. That's why I went to such lengths to find written documentation. I had to sift through thousands of pages of newspapers, periodicals, trade journals and so on, to find any darts documentation. The bibliography of To The Point is the most complete darts reference ever complied.
I should note that darts has gotten some great ink over the years. I like Dartoid's writing very much. His prose is crisp and original and I think his voice and persona are perfect for the subject of darts. There was a darts shooting writer back in the 1970's, Steve Warner, who was a terrific darts scribe and Jay Tomlinson and the BEN writers have been right on target for two decades now. The media problems darts has experienced have mostly arisen because editors and journalists from the general media are often unfamiliar with the sport and have retreated into that ignorance in their reports.

3) Q.   How did you decide what stories to put in the book?

     A.    Sometimes it was obvious that a single story could represent a group of stories. In the book I  identify the three "types" of darts stories and give examples of each. Keep in mind that the book covers over 100 years of cultural history. It is a huge story and at times I thought it so broad as to be unmanageable. One of the interesting things about writing is that often problems of structure and style have to be solved before the story can emerge. Because I wanted to write a book that would appeal to the general public as well as to darts shooters, there were numerous such problems to solve.

One thing I discovered which made the story much more manageable was that, in the story of British-style darts in America, I was often dealing with archetypes. This story dates from about 1960 - before that time darts in America was almost exclusively baseball darts. But in the 1960's and '70's a confluence of events led to what has been called the "Darts Explosion" in America. What I found was that, during that time, in each major metropolitan area of this country, a standard cast of characters were at work to promote British-style darts. They were: A) British and Irish immigrants and expatriates who put up dartboards upon their arrival in the USA. B) Vietnam-era veterans who had learned British darts while stationed overseas and brought the sport home with them. C) One or more local promoters, who were often darts vendors. D) Darts shooters who had grown up playing widdies or upstate New York American-style baseball darts and who had taken up British-style darts. E) Women who had discovered the sport and were determined to participate, even though it meant braving the often hostile atmosphere of traditional "men's" bars. F) Youthful Americans just discovering the sport of British-style darts.
This cast of characters, I discovered, was assembled in every city. I could have chosen any locale and gotten pretty much the same story. In Boston, there were people like Phil Jackson (the Brit expatriate), Danny Gorman (the Veteran) , Paul Hong (The promoter/vendor) D) Ray Miscavage (the transplanted widdies shooter) E) Carol Robinson  F) Dave Kelly (the youthful American). Every city had the same cast of archetypical characters. For example, in Cleveland there were Tony Money (The Brit expatriate); Tom Yuricich  (the Vietnam-era Veteran); Bill Nicoll, Sr. and Dave Servis (the promoter/vendors); Julie Nicoll; and George Silberzahn (the widdies shooter).  Once I realized the archetypical nature of these characters, many the problems created by the gigantic proportions of the story of how British-style darts came to America were resolved.

Of course some cities have unique darts cultures. Philadelphia is the hometown of darts in America, it's where the first dartboard in America was hung and where most of the American dartboard manufacturers were founded. The New York Capital region developed it's own style of darts sometime in the 1920's. Milwaukee is Dartball city.
One of the things To The Point accomplishes is to document that darts in America date almost to the dawn of modern darts in England and that darts is a very American sport.

4) Q. Have you seen Patrick Chaplin's review of your book on www.planetdarts.co.uk ?

A. I have and I appreciate all of the people who have brought it to my attention. I don't know Patrick personally - I have exchanged emails with him - but I hope to meet him at his local pub over in Essex, England for a pint or two some day. I'd heard about him over the years, John Lowe once told me that Patrick Chaplin was The darts historian. I'm glad that Patrick liked the book. His review shows a real understanding of the degree of difficulty and structural issues that I spoke of above. I'll be very interested in reading his work sometime soon.

5) Q. How's the book doing?

UPDATE: Prime Time Weekend will be airing the show on April 13th, 2002

A. Very well. It is in bookstores across the country and the on-line booksellers have had trouble keeping up with the demand. The response from the media has been gratifying too. On April 13th, 2002, WPVI-TV Channel 6 in Philadelphia is running a lengthy segment on its magazine-format show ("Prime Time Weekend"), on the book and the sport of darts, which we filmed at the Rae Chesney Memorial Tournament in January. We've been on television and radio talk shows and news reports all over the country. We'll be appearing on "Good Morning 4 States" on Joplin, Missouri's KODE-TV Channel 12 on February 15, 2002.  So far most of the reporters and interviewers we've dealt with have taken the sport seriously. We've even met a few who actually shoot darts. I think our book tour is going to have a very positive impact on the sport of darts in America. It's a great sport and a great story.

 

Next time "On Point": Some of the stories that were not included in : To The Point: The Story of Darts in America - exclusively to PhillyDarts.com
  

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I'd like to thank Dan Peek for writing this article for the dart shooters in Philly. If you enjoyed this article, please take the time and post your comments on the ON POINT forum. I created this forum to allow people to post questions and comments about the articles he writes for PhillyDarts. Comment about the book too!! I'm sure he will be thrilled to read comments from the city that hung the first dart board in America!!

- Mike Broderick

 

 

 

 


PhillyDarts Exclusive

Dan Peek Author of "To The Point: The Story of Darts in America"  was at the Rae Chesney Tournament January 2002. I was able to get a picture of him with Frank Ennis. We talked for a while and I asked him if he would be interested in providing any articles for my website. He mentioned he wrote about 1000 pages for the book, but the book was edited down to 308 pages, therefore he had extra articles about Philadelphia Darts and shooters!

 We worked out a deal and he will be allowing me to publish some of his work here on PhillyDarts. I've created a link so you can check out he book and order it online. Please support him and his efforts to document stories and history of darts. He will amended the book in 2005.


I'm looking for people to write articles for PhillyDarts. If want to submit an article to PhillyDarts, contact me.