Posted on

Dartball Tourney

Dartball Tourney Dartball Tourney

Zondlo’s gears up for


th Dartball Tourney

by Brian Wilson News Editor Dartball is a game of patience, skill and luck where getting on first base is no guarantee that you are going to score.

While the game is played nationwide, there are regional hotbeds where people become passionate about the combination of darts and baseball. In Taylor County, Rib Lake is the unoffi cial dartball capital with the Zondlo Ballroom its unofficial home.

The highpoint of the local dartball season comes each January at Zondlo’s annual dartball tournament. This year marks the 50th running of the tournament and it is sure to be a memorable one.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, the target is a large four foot by four foot board with the shape of a baseball field on it. There are marked areas for each of the bases surrounded by strike zones, foul zones and the hard to make home runs.

There are nine players on each team and each takes a turn in their batting order throwing steel-tipped darts in an attempt to get on base or to score.

Scott Zondlo, owner of Zondlo’s Bar, says most of the players attempt to get on first and third base. Those areas are relatively bigger. Getting a home run is usually more a matter of luck than skill, he explained. For those familiar with throwing the more common plastic-tipped darts popular at bars across the country, throwing the heavier steel-tipped darts underhand is a challenging skill to develop. Zondlo notes that they periodically add a coat of paint to the ballroom to cover up the holes made by darts that missed their mark.

The score is kept just like in baseball, with those on first waiting to be hit in. Three outs and the inning is over. Nine innings makes up a game.

For as long as Zondlos has held its tournaments, Zondlo notes it is just continuing a tradition that went back further. The tournament draws its roots from one held at the Lakeside Bar in Rib Lake and then later at the National Hotel. In 1970 the tournament moved to Zondlo’s Bar, located a short hop outside the village limits, east on Hwy 102.

Many of the teams in the tournament come from the Rib Lake area, but there are a number that come from neighboring communities such as Athens and elsewhere.

In recent years, the sport has grown in popularity with many players from this area traveling to compete at the dartball state tournament held each year in places like Wisconsin Dells, Oshkosh and Milwaukee.

While those tournaments may draw much larger crowds, Zondlo said they are happy with the size crowd of players and fans they have at their annual tournament due to the size of their venue.

The Zondlo’s 50th Annual Dartball Tournament starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday with games expected to take place throughout the afternoon.

Scott Zondlo demonstrates the underhanded throwing technique needed to get the dart to land where it needs to be.

Photos by Brian Wilson, layout by Mandi Troiber