Column #399 The “No Baloney” Maloney Reunion Charity Dart Tournament
Monday, November 1, 2010
The “No Baloney” Maloney Reunion Charity Dart Tournament
They don’t call her “No Baloney” for nothin’…
She was the best there ever was…
It was in an Orlando pub in 1979 where Kathy Maloney picked up her first dart. Endless hours of practice later and after a run of tournament victories throughout the south she ventured to Washington, D.C. for the 1982 U.S. Open.
The way Maloney describes it her upset victory over Terri Marcello in the final – a match the two still talk about today – was “the beginning of the insanity.” She returned to a hometown pub celebration and never looked back.
She was “the shit.”
She was determined.
She was about to set the sport on fire.
Maloney went on to win everything in sight. She won four Las Vegas North American Open Darts Tournament (NAODT) singles titles, including back-to-back victories in 1985 and 1986. Three times she was honored as the NAODT’s Most Valuable Player. At the time of her fourth win in 1993 her four NAODT singles titles saw her tied with John Lowe as the most titled player ever to compete in the tournament. (Subsequently, Stacy Bromberg eclipsed everyone with six.)
When the NAODT drew its last breath Maloney ranked ahead of Eric Bristow, Bobby George, Bob Anderson, Paul Lim, Dennis Priestley, Keith Deller and a young Phil Taylor as the most successful player ever to toss tungsten in Sin City.
It was also in 1993 – just eleven years after shocking Marcello to notch her first major victory – that Maloney hung up her darts. Back in Las Vegas for the World Cup it was Stacy Bromberg who she met in the final. Down 2-1, Maloney closed 141 to even the match and then struck 180 to open the tiebreaker. The result is history.
“It all just clicked for me… all the hours of practice… a decade of tournaments and playing the best. I wanted it so bad. I knew I had it. After I won I felt fulfilled. The desire to play and prove myself just evaporated. I was satisfied. I was done. I retired knowing I was the best in the world.”
In between winning the U.S. Open in her first major outing and winning the World Cup in her last, Maloney often paired with Brandon Naeve and cleaned up with Tony Payne and Kathy Karpowich. Karpowich and Maloney were virtually unstoppable in 1985 and 1986 and won the World Cup Ladies Doubles in 1987 in Copenhagen.
But now, with Maloney’s name suddenly being bandied about – she raked in the votes as “the best female player to ever represent the Unites States” in a recent Dartoid’s World poll, her newly created Facebook page has attracted more than 500 friends in a flash and she’s planning a “reunion/charity” tournament in April – the question arises:
What’s up? Has Maloney really retired?
To be sure, the darts community is wondering…
Stacy Bromberg – US #1 from pretty much the day Maloney walked away from the sport and current world champion – considers the question this way: “When she was playing, Kathy was setting the standard in ladies’ darts. Her slow, deliberate throw combined with her deadly accuracy always made her a force to be reckoned with. When we won the gold and silver in 1993 I think it was the first time a single country comprised the entire singles final in a World Cup.”
But is Bromberg worrying?
“Well…” she said, “as far as Kathy making a comeback, while the bar has been raised in darts in recent years, Kathy could just be the person to rise to the new level!
“Aren’t you going to throw down the gauntlet?” I persisted. “Aren’t you going to call her a ‘snot head?’” (Sorry – I couldn’t help myself there!)
What is Maloney’s take on a return to the line? (Except for dipping her toe in the water – with essentially no practice at the 2006 Rae Chesney Open in Philadelphia – Kathy Maloney hasn’t lifted a dart since lifting the World Cup title seventeen years ago.)
“Let me put it this way…” she told me, somewhat cryptically, “there hasn’t been a last tournament for me yet. I’m not saying I’m on a comeback… but give me a year of work and I guarantee you I’ll shake things up.”
“Right now,” she continued, “I have other priorities. I always have. My first love is for animals.”
And that’s what her “No Baloney” Charity Reunion Tournament is all about.
The tournament dates (April 22-23) were carefully selected to not conflict with any Florida or ADO-sanctioned tournament. The tournament location (Gulfport Casino in Gulfport, Florida) was negotiated a year in advance. The City of Gulfport, “a salty, historic and hopping waterfront town you’ll fall in love with,” is wholeheartedly embracing the event.
So are darts players from across the nation. Paul Lim will be adding a few more miles to his Frequent Flier account to participate. Teri Marcello is on board. Jerry Umberger is trying to fit it in. So are many others – legends of the game and newcomers alike. Even the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed, would be there was he not already committed to being trashed at a bar in Thailand. “I’d tell you some stories from the old days,” he wrote me, “but they are unprintable – even in Dartoid’s World.”
Maloney’s tournament is going to be fun and it’s going to benefit an OUTSTANDING cause: the Pinellas County Friends of Strays (Friends of Strays).
In real life yours truly is a fundraising consultant to national and international animal protection organizations and I can assure you that Friends of Strays, registered as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit since 1978, is as reputable as they come. Maloney’s tournament will help Friends of Strays rescue homeless dogs and cats and help feed, spay and neuter them and provide veterinary care and shelter until they can be placed in forever homes with families who will love them.
“I’ll consider the tournament a success if we raise enough to pay for a new floor for the animals, volunteers and customers,” Maloney said. “I’ve spoken with darters in eleven states so far – from Florida to New York to Pennsylvania to Ohio, Texas and California and I think we can do it.”
But I know Maloney’s passion for animals is bursting right now and have no doubt that Friends of Strays will be amazed at the final result. I don’t think they are fully aware of Maloney’s past. Certainly they haven’t a clue about the determination that made her a legend.
On Friday night against the background of the locally popular all-female Karmic Tattoo Band (Karmic Tattoo Band) the tournament will feature a unique “draw” where players can bid for partners. A couple hundred bucks may win you a Lim, Umberger or Marcello – or even Maloney. A dollar will get you either me or a hotdog.
Saturday is the tournament and Sunday is, well… Easter. So book early!
For accommodations in Gulfport click here: Gulfport Chamber of Commerce.
For lodging in St. Petersburg Beach, just down the road, go here: St. Petersburg Beach Hotels.
For more information on the tournament go to Maloney’s website at No Baloney Maloney’s Website, her Facebook page at No Baloney Maloney’s Facebook Page or contact her directly at E-mail No Baloney Maloney.
If you are unable to attend please consider supporting Maloney’s effort by donating directly to Friends of Strays at: Friends of Strays.
See you in Gulfport! This is NOT a tournament to miss!
From the Field,
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