When CyberDarts guru Rick Osgood suggested I visit him in
Houston recently it was for two reasons that I simply couldn't
pass on the invitation.
First, it was Osgood and his wife Loretta who originally posed
the idea, some five years ago, that I create the Dartoid's World
Although we'd corresponded regularly by e-mail during that
period our several attempts to meet up at tournaments had never
worked out. A first face-to-face meeting was long overdue. Second
-- and this was the clincher actually -- was that Osgood promised
me a night on the town and the spanking of my life. Knowing that
Dallas and Debbie and her friends were just up the road made
accepting Osgood's invitation a flat out no-brainer. I threw on a
darts shirt, slapped on some Paco Rabanne and took to the skies
immediately. Spank me baby. Spank me good!
As the sun set a half day later I strolled through the front
door of Rick's Darts
and Games (2011: moved to 11396 Westheimer Rd., Houston TX 77077) and into what's got to be the
Mecca of darts supply shops in America. Forget the many fine darts
pubs in the Houston metropolitan area. Forget the Houston Open and
the Bluebonnet Classic. Forget doin' Dallas with Debbie. If darts
is your game and Houston is on your route, a stop at Osgood's
immaculate little shop of goodies is an experience worth every
minute of your visit.
Extending some thirty yards from the front door to the back of
the shop is a display of flights that puts the best of London's
accessory shops to shame. Osgood's stock of Ribtex alone is better
than most truck stop men's rooms. Three practice boards line the
right side of the back wall. To the left is an array of cases
brimming with everything from 40 gram heavyweights to woodies to
those remarkable links of ballbearing-like little balls that you
use to measure off the oche.
Shafts, points, patches, pins, rosin bags, key rings, stones,
cases, cabinets, books, videos. There are shelves crammed with
wooden boards, soft-tip boards, Champion's Choice boards,
backboards and scoreboards. There is even a display of antique
boards prominently centered above the cavalcade of flights.
Osgood simply has everything, in every size, color, weight and
brand that one could possibly ever imagine or need. He even
carries exotic dominoes (though I couldn't quite figure out how to
get them to stick in a bristle board). I was overwhelmed, so
completely caught up in Osgood's candy store of darts
paraphernalia, that I opened up my wallet and peeled off a bill
for a set of 95 cent flights with a revealing pose of some cutie
on them. As it turned out, stuffing them into my pocket (ah!) was
about as close to my definition of a spanking as I was to get this
It was at about 7:00 p.m. that Daryl Montgomery -- three time
Houston City Champion and top four Cricket finisher at the 1998
North American Open -- arrived to spank me Texas-style.
Compliments of the Houston
Darts Association (HDA), who graciously footed our bill,
Montgomery and I headed into the Houston night.
We stopped first at a cozy British sort of pub called Ron's Pub
(1826 Fountain View) on the southwest fringe of the city. A
nine-mark and a handful of 140's were hardly enough for me to
remain competitive as Daryl pounded in six and seven marks and
closed out ton plus game shots seemingly at will. Welts raised on
my posterior about as quickly as on one similarly painful day back
in 1966 when, to impress my buddies, I flicked the bird at Billy
G. Thompson, my junior high school principal. In retrospect, that
act was no less senseless than thinking I could take Montgomery at
the line. Wisely, I submitted early and suggested we team up to
take on others in doubles.
For the next two hours, thanks little to my efforts, Montgomery
and I raised our own share of welts on the backsides of two local
shooters -- Mark Musatto and David Dowling. Dowling, a retired
tennis professional who used to play the circuit, and who once
threw darts with John McEnroe, hung in strong until he was
distracted by a brunette who closely resembled the girl on the
flights in my pocket.
We headed next, and last, to a joint called the Sunrise Pub
(formerly Liars) at 9819 Bissonett. A big, square place (nothing
more, nothing less) with a dozen or more boards covering three of
the walls, the Sunrise this night was bustling with league play.
Montgomery was quickly wooed into substituting for a missing
player while I headed to the bar in the rear. As midnight
approached and as the evening's competition (and our bottles of
Budweiser) neared their end, Montgomery and I headed back into the
night. Rest was a priority. The $15,000
Houston Bluebonnet Classic was to begin early the next
I arrived at the tournament site late the next afternoon as the
darters began to gather in front of the some 40 boards setup up
for the weekend's competition. I plunked down $15 to throw the
Luck of the Draw, grabbed a hotdog and a beer and settled in front
of the number seven board. I was pleased to see an advertisement
for Ron's posted below my board and a similar placard for the
Sunrise adorning the board to my left. Clearly Osgood, Montgomery
and the HDA had steered me to two of the better, and most
supportive of the sport, of the darts establishments in the city.
For a while I chatted with Indiana's Dan "Cujo" Lauby, who
sought me out to inquire about the status of an order of flights
he recently placed with my team captain, Thumper Galloway, back in
Virginia Beach. I surveyed the female contingent carefully with
New Orleans' eagle-eyed Cajun, Scott Wallaston. And I warmed up
and exchanged jokes with Stacy Bromberg and Lori Verrier. I think
they got a kick out of the one about the darter nicknamed after a
dog who orders supplies, long distance, from some guy named after
a friend of Bambi's.
Around about 8:00 p.m. I stepped up with my partner to be
quickly squashed in the Luck of the Draw. Admittedly, this was
primarily my fault as I, thinking we'd won our second round, left
the arena to celebrate briefly in the bar. I returned some twenty
minutes later to be greeted by my harried partner and two entirely
perplexed opponents, to learn that my addition skills left much to
be desired -- that the match was actually tied up a leg a piece.
Suffice it to say I returned to the bar soon thereafter, this time
to seek condolences.
It was an hour or so later that I came upon Walleston again,
this time as I was heading for my car. I'm not certain of it but I
think I heard him mumble: "Mais me, I don't know 'bout no dogs 'n
rabbits but dat gal over dere is purtier den a mudboat in de
swamps. I guarantee dat."
So much for darts in Rick Osgood's town!
From the Field,