History of The Digger

Friday May 22nd, 1992 - The First Annual Bonedigger Invitational - Twenty or so folks showed up at North Avenue beach for this ground-breaking event. After the day was through, Jim Hougo (pronounced Haaaa-Go) and Joanie Denny (pronounced “Rock Star”) emerged as the victors. Scott Cousino, loser-boy second-place-finisher, is still protesting the results to this day.
July 1992 Bonedigger II– We start the tradition of pre-partying the Thursday night before the digger (the first one was at McGee’s). We also start the tradition of meeting for breakfast the morning of the digger (this time we met at Mitchell’s).
August 1992 Bonedigger III
- The Chicago Police Department are out in full force on North Avenue Beach on this day. While sipping a cup of beer, Jack Gibbs is queried by an officer “What are ya drinking?”. Jack, without flinching, calmly answers “Apple Juice”. Satisfied by the answer, the police leave and we escape unharmed. Alcohol has now officially become legal on the beach (as far as I’m concerned).
May 1993 Bonedigger V – “The Arctic Digger” it has been dubbed – with temperatures in the high 50’s, the courageous players battle through the winds & rain. Brent Davies wears a dorky stocking cap (left) throughout the tournament and is pelted with snowballs. Nobody even remembers who won. Beagle and Randy have taken over procuring the beer. Remember the old party balls of beer? Since nobody was getting up early enough to do breakfast, we began bringing bagels to the beach as the morning sustenance. We also institute the modern playoff system so that there was a clear and decisive winning team.
August 1993 Bonedigger VI – The Digger is inadvertantly scheduled on the weekend of the Air and Water show, so all the volleyball poles are temporarily removed at North Avenue. The Digger is moved to Montrose beach. No cops, better sand, less interlopers. . . a win/win situation. Montrose is instituted as the permanent home for the Digger. Mike Week brings his spicy bloody mary’s to start the day off with a kick.
June 1994 – Big changes in the Digger. Marc Kaplanes has now taken over coordinating and running the diggers (much to the chagrin of all involved). The pre-party has moved to The Wrightwood Tap, where it would stay for the next 3 years. In their infinite wisdom, Marc and Kevin Rooney try to computerize the pairings process, writing a program to automatically pair people based on height, weight, age, and sexual promiscuity. In the first round Jack and Myrna are paired with each other, but have nobody to play against. Later, the computer battery goes dead and everything is lost. After being taunted unmercilously, we go back to manually pairing people, forever! “Digger Champion” t-shirts are given out to Digger victors for the first time.
August 1994 – Marc, Kevin, and Sarah Perry devise a simple card system for recording the records and randomly pairing people (subject of course to my discretion). As luck would have it, we needed it. This digger was the largest-to-date with 52 people playing at once on 13 courts, with over 60 in attendance throughout the day.

August 1995 – During a semi-final match, a certain male individual jump serves the opposing female several times in a row. The Digger Elder Council had to pull out the “Digger Commandments” for a ruling. The third commandment is upheld: “Thou shalt not serve those with breasts unless ye have them unto yourself”. The “Courtesy Commandment”, previously un-spoken, is formally proclaimed to all the land.

June 1997 – In the finals Jack Gibbs jump serves Brian Weber’s female partner 4 times in a row, breaking the “Courtesy Commandment”. The crowd jeers Jack, throwing rocks and garbage at him. Eventually the mob overtakes Jack, beats the hell out of him, and leaves him on the beach, unconscious, half-alive. Actually, we just yelled at him some more and made him fill really, really, really bad. But he still won (Damn Domer!)

June 1998 – The digger pre-party moves to the newest Piazza bar, "Durkin's", informally called "Coach's".  Coincidentally, several months later, Marc Kaplanes moves a block away.  This aids in stumbling home late night after digger events.  Tom Piazza throws out a wager at the pre-digger - "if anybody 35 or over can win the digger, I'll give him $200".  Nobody thought it would ever happen.  But the very next day, Joey DiMichele (aged 35) with the aid of Mary Jones, defeated Dawn Herold and Todd Gilbert.

August 1998 – Dawn Herold continued her unmatched streak - she'd played in 4 diggers and had made 4 digger finals.  Unfortunately, she had lost all 4 diggers (also an unmatched streak), this time with Joe Mahan.  Brent Davies, pumped up on Bloodies and adrenalin, jumped on Pam Martin's back as she carried him to his first Digger Victory ever.

June and August 1999 – 1999 would be "the year of the Dawn".  Dawn Herold would make a clean sweep of the diggers.  She recorded her unbelievable sixth straight digger finals.  In the June event her and Randy Noren defeated Jack Gibbs and Gaye Davies.  This final was unique.  For the first time ever, the digger could not be completed outside.  A massive downpour had started on the beach right as the semi-finals ended, so we moved the finals indoors to North Beach.  In August, as if history had to repeat herself, the exact same thing happened.  We moved the finals indoors and Dawn and Jeff MacCagnone defeated Amy Gillin and Greg Barrett.  In my recollection, probably the greatest finals, with four of the best beach diggers there are.  Just to torture them, we had the finals go to 21! (they still hate me to this day for that one)
June 2000 (see pictures and full details from the event)– The inauguration of the "Drinker's Bracket" was a much bigger hit than expected.  Before the event I had guessed we'd get about 10-12 people partaking. For the first round of the drinker's bracket we had at least 30 people! We had 16 people who completed the drinker's bracket requirements and entered the playoffs with the eventual victors:  Jackson, Tina, Mike Week, and Buzz.  In the regular playoffs, we had a freak accident of nature occur - Dawn Herold did not make the finals. After 6 consecutive trips to the finals, the last 2 seeing her victorious, she was ousted in the semi-finals round. In the finals, Greg Barrett and Angie Fitton defeated Melissa Sprau and Kent.
August 2000 (see pictures and full details from the event)– Karch and Maria (left) made a return to the digger tour after a 4 year absence.  Definitely the best looking couple on the beach, they did their best to avoid the Papparazzi.  Beagle also made a return to the digger.  If it weren't for a mishap, he actually would have made the playoffs.  Beagle was mistakenly shut out of playoffs because Giza (Brent and Gaye's dog), peed on the scoreboard and his card was destroyed and henceforth mistakenley left out of the playoffs.  He begrudgingly entered the drinker's bracket, which had instituted the "crowd rules".  Much to the chagrin of Marc Kaplanes, who seemingly the crowd forced to drink at every opportunity.  Dan Anderson had long eyed his shot at the crown and teamed with former-winner Amanda Ripp to take on Becky amd Johnny "I've never made it to the final" Brandeis.  Dan and Amanda would eventually wear down the two newcomers and take the crown.

June 2001 (10 Year Digger Anniversary) (see pictures and full details from the event) 

Thursday evening we gathered in the new back room at Durkin’s. We had a little slide show going, showed off the new digger t-shirts (logo to the left), and had the digger soundtrack in the background. As usual, many partied on past close.
Friday morning saw Johnny arrive on the beach first (truly a first), with Keg in tow.  The digger saw one of the largest turnouts ever with about 55 folks partaking at some point, and several more sitting on the sidelines. When all was said and done, the winners were Jack, a multiple repeat winner, and Kim, a Digger Virgin. They beat the recently-engaged and all-Illini couple of Russ & Melissa.
Saturday, Brently organized our first “Day in the Park” at Oz; including Bocce, Frisbee golf, croquet, badminton, horseshoes, and the special Volcanic fire water – truly a world class effort!
Saturday Evening, Steve, Joey D, and Natalie organized the Pig Roast/Deck party (left). Truly amazing, the food was great and a ton of people showed.

I believe this year’s attendance award is a tie between Steph Spiros (on the left with gal-pal Larisa) & Scott Cousino (on the right with Bobby Booshay). Steph was at every event I was at and did the extra credit Sunday events. Scottie was there every step of the way, and flew in from Denver to do it.

August 2001 (see pictures and full details from the event) 

For the first time, we instituted the "Gold Star Rule" - those who showed up at the pre-Digger at Durkin's got a gold star, and those who made it until 1am got another gold star.  To the left is the 1am gold star folks.
We had a little scare in the morning as we had the keg but no tapper.  Apparently, the tapper was relayed from Stevo to Johnny B somewhere past 4am that morning. Johnny B sets the record for stumbling in at 6:30am on a pre-digger night.  But alas, even with his recuperative powers he could not overcome the blood coursing through his alcohol veins.  Thanks to Joey B and Eric who came through, stopping at 5 places for a tap!  
In the semi-finals, I was paired with Karen against Todd and May.  Karen put on an amazing precision hitting display that put us on the verge or victory at 14-13.  This was my one shot at "Going to the Show".  "The force is strong in this one", someone commented about Karen, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Dark Side, "The Domer" (todd).  They ended up winning and Todd finished his triumphant return to the throne, pairing with Melissa Sprau, former queen, to defeat May and Greg Barrett
After the digger, we started a new tradition. The Apres-Digger. 
: 3 Parts Illini, multiple parts Refreshments, 1 part Tunes, 1 stray Domer, 1 UPer, and 1 Polaroid Camera.  
: Put Illini, Domer, and UPer on the BeachGive UPer camera, turn on tunes, add refreshements, and stir for an hour and half.  Now you've got an Apres Digger.
Hands down, this weekend's Digger MVP (most valuable partier), was Kevin Rooney. Kevin was amongst the late crowd at Durkins (circa 4am). Played, and partied and the digger all day. Then he stuck around for the Apres-Digger. He then went to the post Digger and shut the bar down. Way to go Kevin. Everyone should follow his example.