Column #383 The Music City Classic
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Music City Classic
My first look at a double – at Rodman Rodman – came the moment my plane landed. The man with double first names (or double last names) – no one frickin’ knows which – was kind enough to pick me up, show me around the city, try to indoctrinate me to country music, and whoop my ass six legs straight at the Edgefield Sports Bar (921 Woodland Street), an excellent darts joint with even better cheeseburgers. I did get a look at some real doubles here but just couldn’t close the deal.
My next look came in the lobby of the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. Actually, I heard this double before I saw it. That’s the way it is with Dayton’s Dayton Strawbridge. He just ain’t a quiet and unassuming kind of guy.
My next, and potentially most exciting look at a double, came just a while later in the tournament hall. Lesleigh “Dragonfly” Hayes was her name and, here and now, I am inviting her to send the photos necessary to be considered as a future Dartoid’s World Double Out girl. I make the same offer to Nancy Jo Sebring and Vera Emons.
I expressly do not extend this offer to Dayton Strawbridge.
My final double came on the second day of the tournament and it was just plain weird. I’d say it was frickin’ weird but I’ve already used the bad, bad word twice in just the first two paragraphs so to use it again would be a gross violation of proper writing style. Plus, this is a frickin’ family oriented column.
The guy’s name was Jon Dreher. On two entirely separate occasions he did the double with a train – a real live frickin’ freight train – and lived. Without a doubt this double has never been done before, ever, anywhere on Earth, in the history of mankind.
The first time he fell asleep while driving his Nissan Pathfinder. He drove into a ditch and popped out on a railroad track. Choo-choo-choo… BOOM! The second time, for reasons I still can’t comprehend, he was actually driving his new truck alongside a train track, got stuck or something, ran to his buddy’s house, raced back to his truck, and, well, BOOM! Again! Except for having no arms and legs and having to be duct taped to a skateboard and pushed around by a kid Dreher is fine today.
The Music City Classic is held at a damn posh venue, the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. The walls everywhere are accented in framed old country music concert posters announcing appearances at Ryman Auditorium (the former site of the Grand Ole Opry) of literally every country star ever to flex their cords. Name ‘em – Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Elvis and on and on. There are fancy memorabilia displays with signed guitars and old sheet music autographed by the artists. In a shiny glass case by the elevators there’s even a harmonica once wailed on by Bob Dylan.
Over a century ago – when rooms went for four dollars and restaurant fare included calf’s head, black bear, and opossum – the hotel’s namesake stood at a downtown location in the center of Nashville’s bustling social and political activity. Built by Colonel John Overton, Jr. and named for his wife, Harriett Maxwell (hence the future connection to coffee fame), famous visitors included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and “Buffalo Bill” Cody, among others. Legend has it that it was Theodore Roosevelt’s comment that the hotel’s coffee was “good to the last drop” that lead to the Maxwell House coffee advertising slogan. The original hotel burned down on Christmas night 1961.
For two decades, the Music City Classic has been one of the more popular stops on the American darts circuit and this year – the twenty-first – was no exception. It started off crazy as ever with the Friday night draw seeing three members of the World Cup team on stage, with one of the unfortunate trio (Brian Blake) encumbered with a bozo – yours truly. Blake and I lost in the final to Ryan Barnette and Jim Widmayer.
Most impressive was North Carolina’s Robbie Phillips who I remember first meeting in Greensboro when he was something like four-years-old (but even then had spiky hair). In the Pro Singles event Phillips took out Roger Carter (who just couldn’t seem to find a double sixteen) to get to the stage, only to fall short to a sharp-shooting Dayton Strawbridge (who himself got by St. Louis’ Steve Brown, who just could seem to find tops). Phillips continued to strike well throughout the weekend, losing to Chicago’s Steve Panuncialman in the Men’s Singles 501 final and finishing in the top eight in cricket.
For the ladies, it was Cali West over Andrea Taylor in 301 and Stacy Bromberg with two wins over Paula Murphy in 501 and cricket.
In other activity, Joe Swick teamed with Mat Malone and Tracy Friertag to claim Mixed Trips 501 over Dan Lauby, Steve Brown and Robin Curry (Lauby and Brown also got the job done in Doubles 501 over Donnie Joe and Shane Hvamstad). Paula Murphy and Shea Reynolds topped Stacy Bromberg and Nancy Huntoon in Women’s Doubles 501. In Women’s Doubles Cricket Brenda Roush and Andrea Taylor prevailed over Stacey Pace and Carin Theodoru. And in 4-Person 801 it was Lee Blair, Todd Rooney, Bobby Sluder, and Ryan Barnette with the victory.
I must say it was my pleasure to finally make it to Nashville. For years and despite the best of intentions I had not been able to slot this tournament into my schedule – and I’d never been to Music City USA before for any reason…
Of course, I had a chance to listen to a LOT of country music. Indeed, I am told that it was after listening to the following Guy Clark song for a day straight (and drinking a fifth of Jack Daniels) that John Dreher’s brain turned to mush and convinced him to start wrestling with trains:
I had a chance to get two hours of instruction from Timmy Nicoll on how to make flights from a dollar bill (advice I had already received ten years ago, during a four-hour conversation, from his sister, Julie).
I had a chance to have lunch with Houston’s Donnie Joe, who has two first names or two last names, even though they are different, unlike Rodman Rodman. Joe and I have long-talked about partnering somewhere. Someday, perhaps – but after watching what I describe in the next paragraph the likelihood is that Joe will steer clear of me forever…
I had a chance to partner with the one and only silver-haired, snappy dressing Bob Bettis – once one of the best shots in the nation (featured on the cover of the December 1999-January 2000 issue of Bull’s Eye News) – and get crushed. We couldn’t possibly, not under any circumstances, have thrown worse. But I do not mean for a moment to be a sore loser or to take anything away from the team who beat us fair and square but who shouldn’t have and are just a couple of frickin’ dummies.
I had a chance to renew acquaintances with Stuart Burris who I shocked (along with myself), after ten beers and while standing on rocks the size of baseballs, last June with a 164-finish at the Chicken COOP Open in Noel, Missouri. He is the only person on Earth who has ever seen me do this.
I had the chance to spend time with my old friend Marshall Popp. We meet regularly at tournaments and have long discussions about problems in the world, solve them, and move on until we meet again and realize two things: 1) that we didn’t solve squat and 2) that Marshall’s wife, Marilyn, can still kick our asses every which way at darts.
I had the chance to meet Connie Turbeville from Iggie Art and am thrilled with the abstract lithograph I purchased (and which now hangs on a wall in my family room). Turbeville is a hell of an artist and if you have not had the pleasure of making her acquaintance you should make a point to do so. Her work is quality!
Finally, I had the opportunity to meet Davin Burgess, a damn nice guy despite the fact that he frequents The Website that Shall not be Named. And he can shoot! Burgess teamed with Fred Kruger to take home first place honors in the Saturday night Draw. What I don’t understand is why he insists on wearing a pink dress and heels.
The Music City Classic is a great tournament, held at a terrific venue, exceptionally well run, and attended by many of the best shots in the country. I truly regret that it took me so long to make the trip but I will be back, and hope to see you there. Maybe we can race a train?
From the Field,
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