City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Frisbee Inventor Dies, Local Ultimate Club Moves Indoors

Walter Morrison, 90, the man most often credited with inventing the Frisbee, has died. Morrison, lately of Monroe, Utah, marketed the disc we all grew to know and love as the Pluto Platter in the 1950s, before selling it to toy giant Wham-O, which changed the name to Frisbee and launched an international fad.

Just as Morrison sails off to his, um, ultimate reward, the Washington Area Frisbee Club (WAFC), which wouldn't exist had he not spawned such a cool brainchild, is about to try something new and different.

On Tuesday, the D.C. clique's winter ultimate league will open play at the D.C. Armory. That's the first time it's ever held a competition where the sun don't shine.

"I've been trying to bring the game indoors to the Armory for 10 years," says John Capozzi, a longtime fixture on the city's political and Frisbee scenes. Capozzi, for all his political connections, says things might never have been taken inside without the efforts of current WAFC president Bryan Steffen.

"Brian gets all the credit," Capozzi says. "He made it happen."

(AFTER THE JUMP: Renting the armory's gotta cost a lot, right? Didn't Lee Atwater play there? Doesn't that place still smell like Dumbo dung? Are Frisbees allowed in Ultimate yet? A Redskins connection to Bill Clinton's health scare? So THAT's how we ended up with Dan Snyder?)

Progress isn't cheap: Capozzi says that renting the huge space (capacity: 10,000) where Lee Atwater once jammed with Buddy Guy and George H.W. Bush, and where P.T. Barnum's elephants have been pooping for decades, will cost the club $800 per night.

That comes out to about $7,000 for the season, says Capozzi. But, particularly with the recent weather, he's pretty sure members will be enthused enough about having a roof over their heads and a warm place to play that they'll pony up enough to for the club to break even on the venture.

The ultimate games will not be played on the artificial turf surface that was briefly tread on by the D.C. Armor, the indoor football team that left the building after one horrific season in the American Indoor Football Association.

Instead, Capozzi says, they'll use the same wood floor that the D.C. Rollergirls, another Armory tenant, roll on.

Capozzi says he doesn't expect players to let the venue change their style of play, even with its roof and the harder-than-normal surface.

"If they think they can come up with a catch," Capozzi says, "people are still going to dive for it."

Back to the dead guy for a minute: One of the bizarrest situations I've learned about in my years of typing was that Wham-O's mismanagement had all but taken Frisbee, the trademarked product, out of Ultimate. I wrote about Frisbee's banishment from the game in 2001, and I'm still fascinated by that.

***

Bill Clinton's doctors held their press conference to discuss the ex-president's condition inside the Milstein Hospital Building of Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York. The structure is named after the same Milstein family that produced Howard Milstein, the guy who was going to buy the Redskins from Jack Kent Cooke's estate — until the other NFL owners blackballed him.

The rejection of Howard Milstein opened the door for his junior partner to make the same $800 million offer that Milstein's group had bid, and gain control of the franchise.

And that, kids, is how we ended up with Dan Snyder.

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