Column #HR 218 A Party at the Tuscany

Friday, January 26, 2018
Column HR218
A Party at the Tuscany

You Can’t Go Home Again was a 1940 novel published posthumously for author Thomas Wolf. Posthumously means Wolf had “assumed room temperature” as the guy on the radio says. The premise of You Can’t Go Home Again, for those that got no farther than the title, is that once you leave home you can never go back. That of course is ridiculous. What’s true is that you can go home but it’ll be very different from your memories.

For almost 25 odd years the Old Dart Coach found his home in darting venues around North America, Europe and Asia. Luigi Pirandello wrote the play Six Characters in Search of an Author. The ODC was in search of a win or a cocktail party. Home was a place to refuel, wash clothes and provide a mailing address.

Once a year it’s the ODC’s pleasure to attend the Las Vegas Open. The Las Vegas Open has an added attraction, to say nothing of adding entrants, of being the site for the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) National 501 and Cricket Championships.

The ODC’s appearance was a little like when singer Ricky Nelson was booked to do a gig at Madison Square Garden in the 1970s – the Rock ‘n Roll Revival. When Nelson took the stage, dressed in the then current fashion of bell bottoms trousers and purple vest shirt, he was initially welcomed. When he started to play the Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women” the cheers turned to jeers as he was booed off the stage. From his experience came the hit song “Garden Party.”   The opening verse says it all.

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same

In truth, the ODC is still the young looking, suave, debonair, smooth talking individual he always was. There were a few old friends so stories of The Oche were floated about the venue. The fact was that not many knew his name and fewer cared. It doesn’t take much to play Whack a Mole with the ODC’s always fragile ego.

What remains and is generic to the sport is the general hubbub of “played well but missed doubles,” “playing good,” “good average but I lost,” “who you playing with” and on a rare occasion “wanna beer?” Really rare.

The biggest change was that the dart players, especially the men, appear to be much more professional, stunting the old party atmosphere. Perhaps it’s the influence of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) but the player’s demeanor appeared more professional.

Back in July when the PDC paid a visit to Las Vegas, a gentleman by the name of Willard J. Bruguier Jr. exploded onto the American steel point darting scene as he captured the initial PDC North American Championship. Many American regular tour players knew of Bruguier as he played in the 2016 world masters representing the ADO.

Bruguier had been a well-known soft point player in his native South Dakota. He was inducted into the “South Dakota Dart Hall of Fame for machine players. Back in July, on his way to the North American Championships he defeated Ohio’s D.J. Sayre 6-3 before taking the title with a win over Canada’s Dave Richardson. Willie J. snatched the victory from defeat coming from 3-1 and 4-2 down for the 6-5 win. The winning leg was 140, 140, 123, 98 – which is as straight forward as Bruguier’s topography in his “homeland” of South Dakota. As the North American Champion he competed in the PDC World Championships. A Native American representing America. How about that?

“When I was in England I’d tell them I was an Indian. They usually replied, ‘Feathers not dot?’”

Bruguier rode in from his home in Wagner, South Dakota taking no prisoners in both the ‘01 and Cricket ADO National Championships. “Sitting Bull” was a piker compared to “The Chief” in Las Vegas. The American Bald Eagle, Larry Butler, got Willie in the cricket final 5-4. Bruguier took the ’01 title beating North Carolina’s Robbie Phillips 6-2. Along the way he beat Tom “The Gentleman” Curtin (5-3), Jason Miranda (4-2) and Leonard Gates (3-2).

Bruguier is polite with an infectious personality and a million dollar disposition that should make him a prime candidate for the face of darts. His attitude couldn’t be better.

“What drove me to get to where I’m at today is the fact that you can’t beat the game. You just can’t beat the game of darts and what I mean by that is, I could come out and throw a perfect game one game and then the very next game I might throw really bad and get beat. Everybody in this game strives to be better.”

The star of the 4 days of Las Vegas though was Titian-haired Paula Murphy. She had what for many might be considered a “career week” but for her it was business as usual. She was runner up in both ADO Championships losing in the ’01 to Sandy Hudson (5-2) and in the Cricket to Robin Curry (4-1). Then it was take no prisoners with wins in the mixed triples, both doubles and both singles.

Anette Richardson made the trip from Sweden for the Las Vegas Open. Ms. Richardson was a teammate of the ODC’s in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, in 2016 when both played for I-Rovers Sports Pub. Having survived that experience her mind set was probably “I can handle anything.” She played admirably, losing in the ’01 singles to 2018 ADO National Champion Sandy Hudson. Anette got an introduction to Cricket. “I like Cricket,” she said after a round of 32 Cricket singles finish. The Swedes are great friends.

Thanks to book sales at the Las Vegas Open of One Night While Drinking with the Fat Swede the Old Dart Coach became the largest selling author in Sweden from Las Vegas. WOW.

For the edification of young’uns, Rick Nelson never returned to Madison Square Garden. He died in a plane crash on December 31, 1985. Unlike Ricky, the ODC never came up with a hit song but he will return to the Las Vegas Open – that’s a warning – looking for old friends, hoping to make new ones, share some stories and maybe partake of a few adult beverages. It’s always a good time to enjoy aiming fluid and group tighter.

As one very great lady darter posted on Facebook…

“Good to be home after 5 days in Las Vegas. My liver needs a rest.”

Amen.

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.