An Astoria social and sports organization has pinpointed a new way to bring people together when it’s too cold to play softball by swapping bats for darts.
Astoria Plays Darts kicked off its first season this October with eight teams, representing seven neighborhood bars.
The league was formed by the organizers of Astoria Plays Ball, a co-ed sports group that acts like a social club for locals to meet each other. The softball league began in spring 2013 and has had a spring, summer and fall 2014 season since that time.
Following softball games, teams head to a local bar for drink specials and hot dogs. The winners get free beers.
In addition to growing the softball league’s numbers, its organizers have been seeking new ways to bring Astorians together.
Darts was a hobby that Warren Sheinwald, one of the founders of Astoria Plays Ball, said he has enjoyed playing in the past.
Its role as a classic bar game made it the ideal second sport for the organization.
News of the dart league quickly spread by word of mouth and through Astoria Plays’ social media channels. About 70 people participated in the first season, including many members from its softball teams.
On Monday and Tuesday nights, games are played at one of seven Astoria bars—Blackbird’s, Doyle’s Corner, Olde Prague Tavern, Raven’s Head Public House, Sissy McGinty’s, O’Hanlon’s Bar and Rocky McBride’s. Each team is named after a bar, with Olde Prague representing two teams. The bars provide food and discounted drinks during the evening.
Two types of games are played between teams and individuals. In cricket the goal is to “close” all your numbers and end up with more or equal points to your opponent. You must hit three of that number to close it. The “01″ dart game begins with a score of 301, 501 or 701 and the object is to get to zero by throwing rounds of three darts and subtracting the sum of those darts from the current score.
Though points are scored and teams try to win, there has never been any fighting and everyone has remained civil, according to Sheinwald.
“We have reshaped the image of darts players from those of the traditional competitive leagues to a fun, learning, mildly competitive experience,” he said.
The fall season’s championship will be held on Monday between Old Prague 1 and Sissy McGinty’s. Plaques are awarded to individual players based on all star points and team plaques are given to bars that succeed in the playoffs.
A winter season is already planned, starting Jan. 5. A Thanksgiving winter signup event where the league collected cans for City Harvest at Sissy McGinty’s garnered 60 participants. Spots are still open on several teams, which will expand to include at least 10 bars. Each player that signs up pays a $15 fee for the season.
“It’s a great way to get out there and meet new Astorians, especially for people who have just moved to the area,” Sheinwald said.
As with its softball league, darts players are finding other ways to get together. Recently members started playing football in Astoria Park.
Astoria Plays wants to expand their offerings to kickball and a trivia night, which it hopes to launch by this February.
“One of our goals is to keep promoting the area and keep exploring it together,” Sheinwald said. “We are always looking to do more things, it’s just a matter of time.”