MILWAUKEE, WI (AIP) – The weekly marbles tournament at the Martin Van Buren Elementary School playground was marred Wednesday when officials ejected Billy Brooks for having pine tar on his right arm, in direct violation of league rules.
“It was a mistake,” said Brooks, who was leading the tournament until the semi-final round when he was tossed out for using the banned substance. “I only used the pine tar to warm up and simply forgot to remove it before competition began.”
League officials first noticed what appeared to be a dark smudge on Brooks’ aggie, the marble he uses as a shooter.
“It was unusual and it caught my attention,” said umpire Mickey Tran. “I’ve seen similar cheating before. It really gives the game a bad name.”
Marbles players have been known to use pine tar, rosin and similar banned substances to get better control of their shooting marbles. Marbles purists at Wednesday’s tournament were not surprised.
“Billy was knocking those sulfides and swirls out of the circle like nobody’s business,” said Kelsey Michaels, the eventual winner of Wednesday’s event. “Brooks is normally a tough competitor but nobody is that good.
“I’m not surprised however. The son of a bitch did the same thing in dodge ball last week.”
Brooks has a somewhat checkered history running afoul of league rules. In early 2014, while undergoing routine drug testing, officials found anabolic steroids in his system. He was banned from competition for an entire semester and forced to undergo counseling and random testing.
“I understand that there’s a lot on the line in this league,” said umpire Tran. “Some guys think its okay to break the rules to win.”