Down to the Last Dart: Fire Island Dart League’s “Geo Cup” Championship
By Shoshanna McCollum
It’s almost midnight on a drizzly Monday night in Ocean Beach and the streets are full of puddles. All the bars are desolate, save one. It’s standing room only at Bocce Beach tonight. Where the Fire Island Dart League Championship match is going full-throttle.
Darts are serious business on Fire Island. They are the domain of the bartenders, waitresses, dishwashers, doormen as well as a few beloved regular customers. This year the League bar restaurants included Albatross, Bocce Beach, Castaways, CJ’s, Houser’s, Hideaway, Island Mermaid, Maguire’s and Matthew’s in Ocean Beach as well as Schooners and Rum Jack Rum in Ocean Bay Park. (Flynn’s League took the summer off.)
It was a long and dramatic haul to the finals over the summer of 2012. Every Monday night after a hectic weekend of serving the Fire Island masses the restaurant staff would muster the energy to play each other according to the meticulously planned dart schedule organized each year courtesy of Dart League Chairman, Peter Fazio. If the host match meant to trip to or from Ocean Bay Park it was a longer night still. Some evenings had a positive mojo going, while others decidedly did not.
Restaurants on Fire Island change hands with time but the Monday night dart games have been going on for decades. In 1998 the Geo Cup was born in honor of the late Giovanni Palmaro, the longtime beloved over of CJ’s who had passed on the prior winter. For ten out of those past twelve years Bocce Beach has been the holder of the coveted silver cup, an almost unstoppable machine. Many of those championship games were with Houser’s Bar, who are kind of like Fire Island’s equivalent to the New York Mets – they might have a good summer, but have a knack of choking at the very end.
Houser’s did not expect to make it to the Championships, but by summer’s end they scored among the top four. In the semi-finals they took out Albatross with little effort, but playing Bocce would be a David and Goliath match for sure and Bocce got the home-board advantage.
Stakes were high. Bartender Joe Quinn had resumed college classes in West Virginia already, but he was flown back to participate in this crucial match. Some games lingered scoring hundreds of points, while others were neat and clean, most notably the female match between Ryan and Nat. The last game of the night was a male/ female double at almost 3 a.m. The bar was still crowded, but you could hear a pin drop as the game ran neck and neck. The tension broke into cheers of joy or cries of anguish, depending on what team you were routing for, as the attractive blonde waitress Ryan Murray of Houser’s threw the winning dart.
“Let’s take this back home,” said Joe Quinn as he cradled the trophy in his arms. The last time the Geo Cup had graced Houser’s bar was the summer of 1998, but they had to relinquish it to Bocce the following summer. The summer of 2012 is proof that even the Mets can win the World Series every now and then.