MILWAUKEE -- There are lots of reasons that old friends like to get together on a weekly basis: book clubs, softball leagues, car shows, etc. One group gets together socially to play "dartball," and group members say they wouldn't miss the meetings for anything!
One of the charms of a city like Milwaukee is that some groups of guys have been able to get together socially for years. One group gathers for dartball - where wooden darts are thrown from a distance of 20 feet, at a board that features baseball terms. Each "batter" throws until he reaches base or makes an out, just like in baseball.
"There are some people in the league that will bat .500, .600. There are some other guys who will bat .120, .125, so it's pretty spread out. There are some very good shooters out there," one player said.
The largest dartball league in the state of Wisconsin is the Catholic Blue and Gold League, including, among other teams, St. Matthias, St. Gregory the Great, St. Veronica and Blessed Sacrament, which features a family flavor. Mark Zientek started playing in 1978. "My father and three of my brothers, and my older brother has his son on the team, so six, seven Zienteks on the team out of 15," Zientek said.
Terry Brumirski has only been involved for three years. "I didn't know what to expect. There's a lot of older players, but it's almost like sheepshead on the south side of Milwaukee. It's a dying sport. You talk to these older guys and there used to be four teams out of this parish. Now there's only one. I think more guys like me need to get involved," Brumirski said.
On any given night, the players range in age from early 20s to late 80s and it's not just the veterans who feel they are getting something special out of it. "I like hearing their stories and their wisdom. I hope I get 30 years out of this sport under my belt. The camaraderie with the older gentlemen is priceless," Brumirski said.
It's that camaraderie, mixed with the spirit of competition, that keeps bringing the group together week after week, year after year in church basements around town.
The dartball season ends in the next couple weeks, but will crank back up again next September.
For more information, CLICK HERE to be directed to the Wisconsin Dartball website.