Moises Alfaro played baseball, basketball and football growing up in Oak Cliff, and he always had a Frisbee with him to throw around before and after practice.
That was the early ‘70s, the dawn of wild popularity for flying discs. And in 1976, when he was 23, a friend told him about a Frisbee competition in Corpus Christi.
So they took a road trip thinking it would be fun to kick around the beach. Alfaro entered the contest and won, becoming the first Texas state Frisbee champion.
He won because of his ability in an event where athletes throw the disc as far as they can and then sprint to catch it (his winning throw was 82 yards). But he’d never before seen freestyle Frisbee, where athletes perform Harlem Globetrotters-style tricks — behind the back, under the legs, keep the disc spinning while you do a somersault.
After that, he went home and practiced freestyle Frisbee five or six hours a day.
By this time Alfaro already had a wife and children, but Frisbee maker Wham-O paid his way to attend the world Frisbee championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., about a year after his win in Corpus.
He placed 19th out of about 100 athletes from around the world. After that, he returned to the world championships four more times, qualifying through points tournaments all over the country on his sponsor’s dime; he became known as “the Texas Lone Star” because he was always the only competitor from our state. He appeared several times in Frisbee World magazine and in 1979, he organized the first Frisbee tournament in the Dallas area at Lake Ray Hubbard.
That same year, he won the second-annual Waterloo Disc Golf Classic in Austin, which is now in its 39th year. His photo ran on page one of the Austin American-Statesman: no shirt, short shorts, brown skin, straight black hair falling past the shoulders and soccer shoes. That was his pro Frisbee uniform.
Alfaro points to a photo of himself with his body contorted in a trick: “If I did that now, you’d have to call 911.”
Now 63, he’s like a godfather of freestyle Frisbee, which reached its peak in the ’70s and early ’80s but remains popular. In August, he’ll travel to the World Freestyle Championship in New York City, where he gets to be a judge and participate in a showcase of “old-school” freestyle moves.
“We always wanted a Frisbee golf course in Dallas,” he says.
Now there is one in Oak Cliff, the Roger W. Lytle Disc Golf Course at Founders Park, which opened this past winter. Since it opened, Alfaro says, he has played every day.
Alfaro now works part-time at Fed-Ex and his wife, Barbara, recently retired from a 40-year career at Kroger. They have five grandchildren and have lived in the same Oak Cliff house for 30 years.
“That little piece of plastic took me all over,” Alfaro says. “It was fun.”