America's Darting Legend
It has taken me a few days to gather my thoughts. After all, how does one start a story about a legend, especially when that legend was also your friend? As most of you that know me, you know I have been in darts a long time and so has the hubby. However, from 1987 to 1997, we were away from the dart scene and doing other things with our life while raising our daughter. There was no internet back then. We kept tabs on what was going on in the dart world by way of BullsEye News magazines and the ADO Double Eagle. It was during that time that the legend that was Stacy Bromberg began her climb to fame.
From September 1997 through December 1998, the hubby and I split up and I moved from Laguna Beach, California back to my family in Tucson, Arizona. I started playing darts again because there was so much to do. I could play every night of the week and twice on Sunday between league and blind draw events. I was always a pretty decent player, so it is always good for the ego to walk into events as a newbie and beat up on the locals. And of course, I still had plenty of friends that had continued to play after I moved away. It was during that time that I won my first ADO regional playoff to advance to the national event for the US Masters, which happened to be at the Blueberry Hill in St. Louis. I didn’t know many people on the national darts scene. I walked in that Friday morning and didn’t see any familiar faces. Oh, I knew the names and the faces from seeing results in BEN and the Double Eagle, but they sure didn’t know me. I played okay. Won some, lost some, but held my own for the most part. It was the last match of the round robin that would prove to be the match of the day for me.
We both threw our warm up darts and introduced ourselves. Of course I knew she was Stacy Bromberg, by far, the most dominant female player to play the game. My only saving grace, she didn’t know me and it happened at a time when I was practicing daily and played a lot. I had some game in me. As it was, I ended up beating her 2-1 and it was those wins that got me into the final 8 knock out round. The knock out round was uneventful and I lost quite easily to Marilyn Popp. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that this particular match would give me one of the sweetest and most precious friends I could ever have. I learned in later years that it was just that way with Stacy. She just loved and cared for everyone. We just clicked and were instant friends. We didn’t really have a lot in common other than darts. She had the same birthday as my dad and was born the same year as JK. We exchanged phone numbers that weekend and she always made it a point to keep in touch.
A few months later, I got one of those phone calls from her. She mentioned that the person she had set up with to play at the Houston Open could not make it and she needed a partner, would I be interested? Well, what does one do when you are a relative nobody in the darting world’s overall scheme of things and the number one player in the country calls you and asks you if you want to play doubles? Of course you say yes without any thought to how the hell you are going to get to Houston to begin with. So I decided to drive figuring it would be a great road trip. Remember how I said…no internet back then? Yeah, no Google maps to tell you how long your drive is. I figured it was only Texas and I was two states away in Arizona, how bad could it be? Well, apparently Texas is really, really, really…..really, really really big when you are driving across it. The drive took me 16 hours, which didn’t include the fact that I also forgot about the time change and losing two hours, making it 18 hours total. I showed up at the hotel at 830am Saturday morning to find my room had been canceled and Stacy had tentatively set up with someone else because I had not checked in and it was 1.5 hours to game time. Needless to say, I showered real fast, put my game face on and we cruised through the doubles for the win. Singles came along and we met at top 8. By then, I was fading fast and didn’t have much game left. She proceeded to walk all over me and cruise on to win the ladies singles. Sunday was the day though. We won the doubles that day too, but then realized we had nothing to do as there was no Ladies Cricket Singles event, only an OPEN Cricket Singles. Well, we had made plans to stay the extra day and tour the Johnson Space Center on Monday as part of Stacy’s birthday celebration weekend, so I talked her into playing the OPEN singles event. It was there that she made a little history herself. She played brilliantly all day and went on to win the Open Cricket Singles. She became the first lady to win, what in essence was, a men’s event. It was epic.
Stacy and I would pair up once in a while after that and at some point she did meet JK. And of course, Stacy being Stacy, they hit it off right away and became good friends as well. I eventually moved back to California and JK and I made plans to get married. Those plans ended up being that we would get married in Las Vegas the day before the Las Vegas Open started. So again, remember, no internet back then….lol. So I call my friend, who just happens to live in Vegas and ask her if she could look up a phone number to the courthouse in the phone book for me. She says “what part of the court do you need?” and I say “marriage licenses”…..at which point she broke my eardrum in her excitement to hear we were getting married. And of course, she absolutely had to be there to be our witness. Because that was the type of selfless person Stacy was. She would just drop everything and do anything for you. Well, the short story is….on the way to the court; we had been given wrong directions and got lost. She waited and waited and waited and finally gave up and went home. After we got it all sorted, I called her to ask if she could meet us there again. Of course she agreed, but “I am sorry, Anne… I waited and waited and eventually gave your flowers to another couple”. Not only did she sacrifice her day for us, she bought me flowers.
Over the years, our friendship continued. With the help of email and the internet, it gave us more opportunity to keep in touch in some form when our paths did not cross at tournaments. We still paired up once in a blue moon to play at smaller events out west. For a couple years, the ADO region was set up as Southern California and Las Vegas together, so we saw each other a little more often for those. All the while, she continued to amass wins on her journey to legendary status.
In 2012, when I was presented with the opportunity to write The Ultimate Book of Darts, one of the first thoughts that came into my mind was that I absolutely had to have something in there from the most decorated player in the history of darts in America. I wanted to be able to give her the space to share her story with the world. I told her there were no limits to what she wanted to say and her interview was quite candid! I am glad now that I was able to give her a platform to speak her mind, but more importantly, give the world the opportunity to hear all she had to say.
Everyone knows the records by now. 16 time ADO US #1 with 13 of those titles in successive order. North American Open singles champion 6 years in a row. 13 time ADO 501 National Champion and 3 time ADO National Cricket Champion. Multiple times World Cup gold medalist with the most impressive is being the title of World Cup Ladies Singles Champion in 2009. Stacy was also named in the Sports Illustrated list of all-time sport greats from Nevada at #32. She had more titles than anyone could count, but by far, the most prestigious title that she could ever have earned at the oche was the title of PDC Unicorn Women’s Singles Champion.
Stacy also had a great passion for the Make-A –Wish Foundation and doing everything she could to make children’s wishes come true. She tirelessly campaigned to raise funds and has donated over $100,000.00 to the Las Vegas chapter of Make-A-Wish that changed the lives of many children. This was her greatest legacy and the loss will be felt the hardest by the organization and those kids waiting for their wishes to come true. She was their champion too.
Getting that call on that Monday morning was a shocking surprise. No one knew just how bad things had gotten for Stacy. In her way, she chose to keep it quiet and only the family was aware of just how dire her situation was. I took the day off and spent most of it in a puddle of tears as I scrolled through Facebook and read everyone’s thoughts, condolences and memories. Many shared photos of some great times that were a joy to see. It was not the steel tip world, or the soft tip world, it was the darting world as a whole that lost greatness. Her reach went far beyond America and into Canada, Europe and Asia and those overseas shared in the sadness of her loss. It was amazing to read about how many lives she touched in some way, not just locally, but all over the world.
The next day, it was just a little easier. The memories on Facebook were still coming up, but the pain of the loss was not as strong. It wasn’t until I read the post and saw the photos posted by L-Style’s owner, Jinta Serazawa. The tears showed up again. I heard the words to the song playing on my music account as I looked out my window to see a cardinal walking around outside. They say when cardinals appear, angels are near. It sure was time for her to fly with the angels and set herself free.
But it's time for me to fly
Oh, I've got to set myself free
Time for me to fly
And that's just how it's got to be
I know it hurts to say goodbye
But it's time for me to fly
So now our hearts hurt as we try to figure out how to say goodbye. You will always be a treasured and precious friend that holds a special spot in our hearts. She was the only one to ever get away with calling me Annie. As time passes, her legacy will live on as many will tell the tales to new players of how great she was….and that she was a pretty damn good dart player too. Rest well with the angels, my friend. Until we meet again at the oche in the sky.
And for those wondering….I never did beat her in a singles match again. Sometimes there are things in life more important than winning a dart match. I won a fabulous friend and I will miss her dearly.
RIP Stacy Bromberg
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