Darts has been a part of HYC's winter activities for many years. It's part of what holds the club's social fabric together though the long cold months. We go into a sort of hibernation period in January, punctuated only by the occasional event at the clubhouse.
Comes February, however, HYC starts to come to life again as darts gets into action. When the season opens, people are showing up in parkas and stomping snow off their boots at the door. By the time the last dart is thrown, the tulips are up and parkas have been put away until next year. Here's some thoughts on the early days by two long-time players.
Freddie Sammut talks about darts
Andy Kurtis (who was commodore in 1979) introduced the first dart board to the club. It was located on the far wall of the north end of the old bar and was up when I joined the club in 1978. Then, as it is now, weeknights at the bar and restaurant were slow. Up to that time, the dartboard was well used by the regulars, but not in any organized way.
My wife Fran actually made the suggestion that in order to generate some business we should start a darts tournament on Wednesday and Friday nights. I'm not sure of the exact year but it seems to me that it had to be ‘81 because she died in ‘83. We took care of all of the paperwork and introduced the first dart awards dinner where we tried to set a formal tone with tuxes and gowns. At the time, I was playing in a downtown bar darts league and I was pretty good.
Andy Kurtis was a champ of course. Don Standridge, John Mazzanti and Jack Curtiss were some of the best. I think we started with four teams, but interest soon grew and we had to add two more dart boards in the old lounge, now part of the bar. For many years the Wednesday and Friday tournaments played a "Superbowl" to determine the overall winner. Jerry and Joan Schulman and Nancy Curtiss were part of the original players and a lot of people who are no longer members. I ran it for many years and was succeeded by JR who ran it until recently. I believe that the original purpose, to increase revenue to the club, has been served more than adequately.
JR talks about darts
I started playing darts at the HYC in the winter of 1987, and was mentored by Gary Peluso (bartender/in-house dart pro). At that time darts were played on Wednesday nights (mostly local crowd) and Friday nights. By 1990, there was no one to run Fridays, so my father as Vice Commodore, asked me to run it. My tenure went from winter 1990 through winter 2007. After the winter of 1991 Wednesday night darts ceased to exist due to waning participation.
In the early 90’s attendance at darts averaged 30-35 players. We had six teams with five to six players on each team. Later 90’s attendance started growing until by the year 2000 we had 58 players playing with eight teams and six to seven players on each team. Attendance continued with those numbers until 2005 when they started declining again.
Through the years I saw my share of controversy, from who could play, (friends, visitors, family members), to where to play, (downstairs, upstairs) to unfair captains, (when to play, who to play, and how many times to play). Throughout the years darts were always played downstairs in the lounge except for the winter of 1993 due to construction downstairs from the flood of December 1991. In 2005 the dart league was dedicated and named after the late PC Andy Kurtis (PC Andy Kurtis Challenge). There is a plaque on the wall in his honor with the names of the winning teams added each year.