Column #224 Jim Widmayer
February 23, 2006
What will I do with my ten minutes on television? I’ll celebrate my World Series of Darts victory on stage with my family!
— Jim Widmayer
Date of Birth: August 23, 1969
Place of Birth: Staten Island, New York
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Hobbies: Basketball, softball, and cards
Television Show: Lost
Meal: Chicken Marsala and Budweiser
Favorite Night on the Town: Going into the city with my wife and daughter
Sports Team: New York Mets and New York Giants
Music: Queen and Greenday are my favorite groups but I like all kinds of music
Book: Who needs a book when you’ve got the New York Post Sports Section?
Pet Peeve: Bad drivers and (in darts) bad scorers (I don’t know how some people made it out of grade school)
Worst Habit: Licking my fingers before I throw my darts
What Most People Don’t Know About Me: Actually, what many people don’t know is that I played darts in the 90’s and was actually pretty good.
Weapon of Choice: 24-gram Bottleson Hammerheads – model 244E, extra short nylon shafts and standard flights
I think it was the winter of 1988 or 1989. I was nineteen years old and still hanging out in the streets. I remember that it was cold. So what do you do when you’re an underage kid hanging out and freezing on some street corner? You try to get into some bars!
Well we got in. Some people were playing darts so I thought I give it a try. Believe me, I couldn’t stick one in the board if you gave me a hundred bucks. I played basketball in college – in fact, I played in the Division III NCAA Tournament for the College of Staten Island – but I’d never handled a dart. But I’m stubborn. It took a couple of weeks of losing two bucks a game to get me going. In no time I was on the dartboard all night, taking money from everyone. Then I joined the team from the bar.
People say I have a natural talent for the game because it didn’t take me long to get pretty good. Rudy Hernandez played in my league and the first couple of years I was involved I used to go to the tournaments to watch him throw. Then in 1992, I entered the New Jersey Open and hit it big time. I won both singles and the doubles with my friend Jay Harrell. All the top players from the east coast were there. Over the next few weeks of tournaments I seemed to just win everything. I guess I just needed that first win to get me going and hungry. From there I just rolled…
In 1994, I participated in the World Matchplay. In 1996, I made the U.S. World Masters Team, was U.S. National 501 Champion, and finished second in the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) point’s standings. In 1997, I was on the U.S. World Cup Team and the U.S. National Team.
Then I kind of hung up my darts for tournaments and just played league.
I didn’t throw seriously until the New Jersey World Series of Darts (WSOD) qualifier – and I was thrilled to take the final 4-1.
I never really had much of a practice routine. I just considered tournaments practice! Now I’m throwing league a night a week and I’ll be traveling to some tournaments to stay sharp – but what I’m doing to be ready for the showdown at the Mohegan is not something I am prepared to share. Why should I? Let’s just say that I guarantee I’ll be on the top of my game in May!
I have to say that I credit Rudy Hernandez and Jay Harrell with my development in the sport. Rudy set the standard for where my game needed to be to compete with the best players around the country and Jay was always there to critique my throw and help me adjust. I’ve partnered with both of them and also Roger Carter and Bill Davis. I threw mixed with Marilyn Popp (we won both 501 and cricket at the 1996 Las Vegas Open), Bridget Burke and Marcia Loche.
Who do I look up to in the sport? That’s easy – Larry Butler showed that an American can win a big tournament overseas. No other American accomplishment in this sport is as great or ever will be as great as being the first American to win in England. Do I have a nemesis? That’s easy too – no. I can beat anybody. Just ask the hundred guys who didn’t win the New Jersey qualifier.
If darts is going to grow and be televised, watched and appreciated by the general public, I think we need to clean it up some. A dress code and restrictions on headgear should be enforced. I’m pleased that a big sports network like ESPN is involved in the WSOD, and think we’re definitely moving in the right direction. Hopefully this will lead to more and more televised darts and encourage sponsors to get involved.
I’m married. My wife’s name is Tina and we have a daughter, Megan who is eight years old. We also have a dog and a cat, Gadget and Ruby. They’re all behind me now that I’ve picked up my darts again and qualified for the WSOD.
And they’ll all be with me after I win the million dollars, pay off some bills, buy a new house and take a long vacation.
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