Column #HR202 The rest of the Rick Ney Story

Monday, June 26, 2017
Column HR202
The rest of the Rick Ney Story

With the advent and growth of the PDC and the worldwide explosion of soft point darts more people are playing darts today than ever before. This is especially so in Asia.

While steel point players in North America bemoan the loss of the old tournament trail many have become “convertible dart players,” working both sides of the darting street and taking advantage of the opportunities to play for more money. It’s human nature to look on the Dark Side rather than just continue to stroll along on the “Sunnyside of the Street.”

Growing up, there was a cartoon character called “Gloomy Gus.” My beleaguered mother, Irene Maude, would call me that on occasions when I would go into full pout mode, protruding lower lip and all. “Watch out,” she’d say, “or you’ll step on your lip.”

With the announcement that the PDC was due to hit Las Vegas July 11-15 the Gloomy Guses of North American darts were out in force. As part of that visit the North American Championship Open offers four Qualifiers with a total purse of $61,200 (the eight finalists will compete for another $25,000). Still many whined. The pater would say, “They’d complain if they were hung with a new rope.” Possibly this is just in the dart player’s DNA.

Players were required to book at the host hotel for two days. Oh yes, and they had to enter all four qualifiers at once.

Another of Irene Maude’s saying was, “My God, the Bridge!” – which was her answer to the occasional whine from the ODC who was just a work in progress at the time, and still is. I doubt she borrowed the quote from the Little Jimmy Dickens song – “The Bridge Washed Out, I Can’t Swim and My Baby’s On the Other Side.” Maybe Jimmy copped it from Mom.

Relax North American Dart players and take a deep breath. The tungsten god, who works in mysterious ways, has now decreed that “registering at the Tropicana hotel” is no longer required. Sold out. Bet you can still go on line a book a room.

Entries for the North American Championships close on June 27. A player can enter by going to the PDC web site.

The Old Dart Coach always like to issue kudos to players that have maintained a high level of play over the years and are really good people. The first kudo goes out to one of the nicest ladies in darts, Canadian Kim Whaley Hilts. Hmm, she didn’t get hyphenated. She won this year’s Canadian women’s singles title, then joined up for the women’s doubles crown also. Even when she doesn’t win she’s a champion.

Internationally, Lim Leong Hwa took Stage 2 of the DARTSLIFE event in France. The win moved him into the lead for the year over USA’s Alex Reyes by 11 points. Reyes has a 3 point lead over Harith “I’m Not His Brother” Lim with Japan’s Yuji Eguchi 4th, only 3 points ahead of Yank Darrin Young. Leong Hwa, aka Paul Lim, who defeated Francis Emouts from Belgium for the win in France is the defending champion of the profitable series. Next up is Taichung, Japan, starting July 30th.

Cherish your kudos as they are rare.

Throughout the years one fact has remained constant in darts: along with winning all darters are looking for sponsors. Of course that’s true for all competitors regardless of the sport. It’s more difficult in darts.

“You play what?” are usually are the first words out of a potential sponsor’s mouth. In the early days of darts one of the North American sponsors that stepped up big time was Walt Bottelsen of Bottelsen Darts.

He produced the first and best “movable point” dart. In England, Staymaster made a movable point which relied on a small watch spring that would wear out quicker than a $2 Walmart watch. Staymaster sponsored players Linda “WB” Batten and Keith Deller, to name two. The BDO dictator Olly Croft wouldn’t allow the darts to be used in BDO play which certainly didn’t help the marketing. That and the fact the dart had serious durability problems sunk the venture.

Walt Bottelsen sponsored Jerry Umberger, Rick Ney, and John Kramer, among an other. Yes, the ODC does know the “other” but won’t use his name. He’s a jerk. That’s not merely the ODC’s opinion; it’s the consensus of anyone that knew him.

When Rick Ney died recently what wasn’t known, outside of a small circle of close friends, was that his family was having some serious financial problems. A group of Rick’s friends joined together to raise money for the family. Spearheaded by Jerry Umberger, Dave Kelly, David Miller, Julie Nichol Hyphenated and Russ Lopez formed the original group. Since then, donations have come from Jerry Feather, Paul “Dartoid” Seigel, Frank Smith, Dennis Hasset, and Ron Deane. Johnny K is planning a Memorial Shoot in the fall.

Rick Ney’s long time playing partner Jerry Umberger contacted their old sponsor Walt Bottelsen. He came through in flying colors. First, he made a direct monetary donation to Rick’s widow, Lynn. Walt then re-tooled his machines to produce a small number of limited edition “Rick Ney” signature darts in both steel point and convertible soft. The darts were made available to the “group” at no cost with all proceeds from the sale of the darts to go directly to Ney’s family.

The darts retail on the steel point is $125 and $100 for the convertible. With only 10 sets, five of each, every set will immediately become a collector’s item. Julie Nicoll-Jennings will be raffling off some sets at various tournament in the Midwest later in the year. A request has gone out to the PDC for permission to hold a raffle during the North American Qualifiers and Championship. At press time no response has been received from the PDC.

In addition a “silent auction” will be held staring now and running through September 1. The darts will be sold to the highest bidder or binders that the “group” approves. Bids may be submitted via the Dartoid’s World website – just click on “Contact” at the far right on the navigation bar.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.
Howie Reed

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