A large brass plaque marks the spot where, on April 6, 1975 (or thereabouts), six guys named Albrecht, Castle, Moorehead, Pribble, Steinbec and Dupler downed a few beers and founded the Central Ohio Darters (COD).
Established in 1933, this little hole-in-the-wall of a pub is now calle Dave's Crest Tavern. On Indianola, just a mile north of Hudson, the Crest i one of the venues of choice for throwing the "steel-tipped short spear" (as the COD's literature describes it) in Ohio's capital city.
The Crest is a cold, dark, no-frills kind of pub. I asked the bartender, Becky, for a business card and one of those big pickles in a jar. She told me to forget it (the card) -- explaining that the Crest just isn't a "high class kind of a joint." I'm afraid she's right. Unfortunately, they were fresh out of pickles too.
So I walked past the patrons boozing at the bar and headed to the right through an archway near the rear. There I found a special area with six dart boards framed in a scarlet and grey colored room (after all, this is the heart of Buckeye football country). Except for a juke box, a pinball machine and a blond sitting on some guy's lap at one of the few scattered tables, the place was empty. So I warmed up and headed to my next stop, a place I was told really was a "high class kind of joint."
The Short North Tavern (674 North Hight Street) is definately a class act. The place is located in an recently renovated, and very artsy, area just blocks north of the center of the city. The pub is open and airy. The wood floors shine. The menu (and the selection of beers -- sixteen domestic and thirteen imported) is varied. And the prices are amazingly reasonable. The Bristish bartender, Helen, sold me a draft Budweiser for a dollar!
In fact, this pub is so squeeky clean and friendly that I'm certain my mother would feel comfortable having a salad (hold the dressing) during their weekly blind draw. And, for my mother, this is a hell of a statement. Never has she been to a darts match. Never in a million years would she be caught in a place like the Crest.
There are just two boards at the Short North but the nook that has been created for play is superb. The area is carpeted. The oches are raised wood. The lighting is recessed. Even the scoreboards are personalized with the name of the pub. Around the fringe of the bar, intermingled with an extraordinary collection of vintage radios and an erotic gallery of black and white photographs, are a host of trophies won by Short North teams over the years. There's one trophy which honors the tavern's "Lucky Strikes" team which was recognized as the oldest continuing darts team in the COD after throwing together for almost fifteen years.
I managed to stop by one other darts bar during my Columbus visit -- a little place called Brew-Sters (128 Dillmont Drive), in Worthington, on the northern edge of the city. Actually, I hung out here for almost four hours shooting with Gary Jones of Bulls Eye News. The set up is fine (two boards, good lighting, paper Budweiser oches) but the distractions are many -- we threw to the monotony of Dan MacLean's "American Pie" (which seemed to be stuck in the CD player) and did our best to keep our stroke while not watching the girls, half our age, line dance in front of the mirrors by the dance floor.
Contrary to the opinion of some, and despite the reputation of the late Woody Hayes, Columbus is much more than a little city with a big league college football team. From the full-size replica of Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria moored on the Scioto River to the "world under glass" exhibits of seven of the earth's ecosystems at the Franklin Park Conservatory to the world-class pre-Columbian cultures exhibit at the Ohio Historical Center, Columbus is rapidly attracting international attention.
And thanks to the determination of six guys at the Crest who cared about competative darts and the future of the sport, Columbus is also now more than just a one bar darts town. The COD has grown from auspicious beginnings in the back room of a dark little bar to a respected, highly competative league of some six hundred players represented on over one hundred teams.
For far too long Columbus, Ohio has lingered a bit in the shadow of its sister cities to the north and the south. But no more. When it comes to the "steel-tipped short spear" (and football) Columbus can boast a history and a record of accomplishment that are second to none.
From the Field,