ON POINT
By Dan William Peek
February 20, 2003

Exclusive to Phillydarts.com
 


News and entertainment magazines often feature retrospectives at year’s
end entitled something like “The Year in Photographs”. I thought
PhillyDarts.com visitors might find my Philadelphia-related travels and
experiences in 2002 to be of interest.

In January 2002, Joy and I visited Albany, NY and then traveled to the
Rae Chesney tournament in Philadelphia. A photo taken by Mike Broderick
at the Philly tournament appears elsewhere on this site. In Albany, NY I
gave a talk and did a book signing at an exhibit of American-style
dartboards sponsored by the Office of Cultural Affairs at Albany
International Airport. The exhibit featured many dartboards made in
Philadelphia. In the photo () you will note the large Apex dartball
board and the Widdy boards above and to it’s right. Philadelphia is
where almost all American-style dartboards have been manufactured for as
long as darts has been played in this country. As a matter of interest,
the boards in the photo which have only one multiplier band are made in
upstate New York. It is generally believed that they are derived from
Philadelphia-style boards.

Early April found us in Milwaukee for the State Dartball Championships.
The Photo () shows the teams and spectators early in the contest.
Dartball was invented in Philadelphia in the early 1920’s by Charles
High, the founder of Apex Manufacturing. The company is still in
business in Philadelphia. As was our custom in most of the cities we
visited, we did a signing at a bookstore of To The Point: The Story of
Darts in America ()

Later that month we traveled to St. Louis for the Blueberry Hill
tournament.
Here’s Blueberry Hill (). Of course, the Philadelphia area was
well represented. Here’s Joy and me with Jerry and Gloria Umberger (#5)

In October, the Missouri State Championships came to our hometown,
Columbia, and we caught up with Jerry Baker (). Jerry grew up in
Pittsburgh, but as a young man, he used to drive to Philadelphia to
shoot darts with the likes of Valletto, Daniels, Lippman and the other
greats of that day. Jerry moved to Kansas City a quarter of a century
ago, but has continued to shoot world-class darts. He has inspired and
encouraged a generation of dart shooters in the Midwest.

In November, we made a trip back east to visit Boston, New York and
Philadelphia.
At the Witch City Open in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, I got my picture
taken with the great Dave Kelly (). Dave is a darts professional who
has often visited Philadelphia.

These next photographs have mostly to do with my campaign to be
photographed with the glamorous young women of darts. But those pictured
are all also world-class shooters who have graced the hockey in Philly
at one time or the other. There I am at the Kettle of Fish in Manhattan
with Tina DiGregorio (); at Blueberry Hill with Lori Verrier () and
Holly Carver ().

Our visit to Philadelphia in November, 2002 is pretty well documented
elsewhere on PhillyDarts.com but here’s a shot of some of the legends of
Philly darts. That’s Dick Del Castillo on my right, George Silberzahn
and Frank Ennis on my right (). We’re at the famous Mt. Royal Inn,
owned by another Philly-area darts legend, Joe Baltadonis, over in
Jersey. We also spent a good part of that day in Delaware, the result of
a couple of wrong turns in Pennsylvania (and my reluctance to stop and
ask directions).

Just before we left Philadelphia, Channel 6 TV’s Don Polec and Tim the
cameraman caught up with us at the hotel for a quick interview ().

Probably the most exciting moment for me, in 2002, was our visit to the
Philadelphia City Archives during our November visit. There we
discovered that John Pearson was listed in the 1900 Philadelphia
Directory at the corner of Ridge and Nicetown Lane. Pearson is the
Englishman who hung the first dartboard in America, at that very
location
. Although his occupation is listed in the archives as
“salesman”, it seems likely that he ran the tavern on the first floor of
his home at the same time. This means that darts may have been
introduced in America as early as 1900
. If so, that date would have been
almost simultaneous with the appearance of the sport in England.

We have requested further research from the Archives, paid the $35.00
fee and met the person who is going to retrieve the information. The
matter is now in the hands of a very thin, very pale, very disheveled
researcher. He’s probably a nice guy, but his nerves didn’t seem too
steady. We’re hoping to hear from him further sometime this year. In any
event, fixing the date at which Pearson took up residence at Ridge and
Nicetown is a very exciting development for us not so thin or
disheveled, but perhaps a little pale, researcher/writer-types.

That’s what it was like to be on a book promotion tour in 2002. Joy and
I are having a great time traveling around the country promoting To The
Point: The Story of Darts in America and the sport of darts. We also
visited tournaments and pubs in Joplin and Jefferson City, Missouri last
year. We’re looking forward to more great adventures on the road this
year.

The Next ON POINT for PhillyDarts.com will tell the story of the
Philadelphia-area master darts shooter, the author of “Mastering the
Sport of Darts”, George Silberzahn.
 

- Dan William Peek