Posted: Tuesday December 20, 2005 4:43PM; Updated: Tuesday December 20, 2005 4:43PM
So far, the assistant GM and GM haven't had any substantial philosophical differences, though my wife Vanessa and I did spar over how hot an item the knit beanie would be. I argued that, given the season and Vermonters' practicality, it would sell well; she (thus far correctly) divined that a standard baseball cap would have more appeal. Our neighbor Woody Jackson, the artist whose Holstein cows have graced and moved more than a few T-shirts, suggests with his trademark drollery that in order to increase demand, we might want to call the knit beanie a "toque," a notion seconded by Rob from Ontario.
Like a certain other Vermont-based venture, which uses Woody's cows to sell ice cream, we're aiming to be socially responsible while keeping our sense of humor. Yes, we want to fuse the best of the old Vermont with the new, playing our games in existing buildings in the state's historic downtowns, while using the Internet to put our fans in the front office. But in the process we intend to get a face ache from all the fun we'll have. What's been so rewarding thus far is, as we laid out our philosophy, how many people -- in the phrase of a broadcast voice familiar in these parts, New England's own Mike Gorman -- "got it."
On the socially responsible level, consider this e-mail: "I would like to buy two season tickets. But since I live in Ohio, I would like to donate them to a local Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, YWCA, etc. How do I do that?" (We'll figure out a way.)
On the sense-of-humor level, this, from a resident of a neighboring state, Vermont's perennial rival: "I'm starting a team, the New Hampshire Potholes, and we'll be 'the dip in your trip.' Our concessions will include a state liquor store, and the eastern half of your fan base will be buying our merchandise because there's no sales tax." (Nice try, but Vermont doesn't charge sales tax on apparel.)
The only discordant notes have come from those who, having watched the ABA lose franchises at the rate of one per week since this season began, think the league is a turkey. The chief of another minor league wrote to predict that the Frost Heaves will be making their debut in the ABA's Amelia Earhart Division. But as Jim from Pennsylvania, who served as p.r. guy for the Erie Wave of the World Basketball League for three years during the early '90s, puts it, "I'd love to start a basketball team in a stable minor league. Problem is, there aren't any."
It was NBA scouting director Marty Blake, the GM of the old St. Louis Hawks, who unwittingly planted the idea of starting the Heaves in my head. Marty called twice last week, first to leave a message: "Congratulations, you're in the business. For a coach you might want to consider Clair Bee, Red Holzman and Ghost Johnson."
If you know Marty, it won't surprise you to learn that all three are deceased.
A few days later he called again, this time to ask for a copy of our seating chart. "In St. Louis we put 60 chairs down front and charged double for them," he said, sounding like a man vicariously reliving his youth. "We had Stan Kenton and his band play with a doubleheader. I gave away pumpkin pies on Halloween. Say, you can have a Sťance Night. Everybody holds hands and you turn off the lights."
At this point, I can only imagine what we'll see when those lights go back on.