Mountaineers

A Vermont Mountaineers base-runner races toward third base during a New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Recreation Field in Montpelier.

This is the time of year for lists. You know, “He’s making a list, and checking it twice.”

Mascots seem to be on everyone’s mind these days so let’s start there. An often-discussed mascot is off I-91 at Randolph Union High High School. Here is a top 10.

1. Randolph Galloping Ghosts. Like the Rutland Raiders, this mascot has been under fire. This one for conjuring up images of the Ku Klux Klan.

The mascot has been tweaked and I haven’t heard as much controversy lately.

Hey, it doesn’t have to reflect the KKK or Confederate commander John Mosby, “The Gray Ghost.” Let it honor Red Grange, arguably the best back ever to strut his stuff on a college football field who was tagged with the same moniker.

Maybe that would be the impetus for Randolph adding football.

2. Fair Haven Slaters. Unique and speaks to the history and culture of the area.

3. Missisquoi Thunderbirds. Again unique. Love the sound. T-Birds works well in headlines.

4. Green Mountain Valley Gumbies. How many other schools anywhere have this one?

5. Proctor Phantoms. This gets high points for uniqueness. No other Phantoms in Vermont and, I don’t believe, there are many throughout the country.

6. Hartford Hurricanes. Gotta love the Swirl logo.

7. St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers. It is a long climb up that hill.

8. Oxbow Olympians. Alliterative and unique. I loved the helmet logo before the United States Olympic Committee put its foot down.

9. Montpelier Solons. Try to find another school with this one. Much of the hustle and bustle of downtown is due to the state legislatures and other state government agencies making this the perfect mascot.

10. West Rutland Golden Horde. Nobody else in Vermont has it although our neighbors to the west in Granville, New York have the same mascot.

Funny story: Riding up to Barre Auditorium one day with Jack Healey, who was about to broadcast a West Rutland game for the Northeast Sports Network, someone from NSN called his cell and asked him what the West Rutland mascot was. They were preparing graphics for the screen of the videocast.

The game began and there it was on the screen: West Rutland Golden Hoard.

Greatest sports movies

Nobody’s list in this category will be the same. Great movies like Slapshot and Caddyshack did not make mine. I could have gone top 50 and they all would have been good, but here goes.

1. Remember the Titans. Maybe because I love high school football. There are so many great scenes. You got to love the poignant scene in the cemetery at Gettysburg on the team’s early morning run at camp.

2. Hoosiers. A must watch just before Jan. 11, 2021 when we get back to high school basketball. The caravans of fans through snowy Indiana. It just screams the passion of high school hoops and what it means to a community.

3. Field of Dreams. Pure classic. Got to go to Dyersville, Iowa someday.

4. A League of Their Own. Just a lot of fun. There’s no crying in baseball.

5. Brian’s Song. No crying in baseball but there is plenty of crying in this one. Timely with the recent death of the great Gale Sayers.

6. Bang the Drum Slowly. Cry some more.

7. Bull Durham. There’s not another look at the minor leagues quite like this one.

8. Rudy. Anything around the aura of Notre Dame has to give you chills even though it has a heaping helping of schmaltz.

9. Rocky. There have been a lot of great fight movies made.

10. Major League. Bob Uecker is just plain funny. Scenes at the old County Stadium in Milwaukee are priceless for baseball fans.

Basketball venues

1. Barre Auditorium. It’s antiquated, one of the faucets in a restroom has not worked for decades and I still love it. The atmosphere for a high school state championship game is Hoosieresque.

2. Lyndon Institute: I haven’t been there yet and a game has not been played on the new floor. The pictures are enough. The new floor adorned by the impressive Viking logos scores high points.

3. Hazen Union. Some of the most passionate fans in the state create a great atmosphere in this gym. The mementos honoring late sports scribe Dave Morse add to the meaning of this hoops shrine.

4. Proctor’s Almo Buggiani Gymnasium. Happy to have one of those beloved little matchbox gyms still around.

5. Springfield’s Dressel Gym. It’s been dressed up but it still has that old-time feel that speaks to the Cosmos’ tradition.

6. Rutland’s Keefe Gym. It’s underrated. The fact that we can now walk to it from our palatial office on Grove Street gives it points because it’s my list.

7. Otter Valley’s House of Noise. The pep band and a robust student section that stands the entire game add to the ambience.

8. Mount St. Joseph. When they improved the floor, this gym shot up in the rankings. Great people’s names are attached to it: Marty McDonough and the late Lenny Burke. Love press row on the stage across the way from the fans. Thanks for the accommodations, Jolly and Roz Rogers.

9. Mount Mansfield. I have seen exactly one game in the Cougars’ gym but the atmosphere left a lasting impression.

10. Green Mountain Union High School’s Nason Gym. This shiny and bright gym has been one of my favorites from the time it opened.

Baseball venues

1. MSJ’s St. Peter’s Field. When it comes to high school baseball venues , this one stands alone. It has history, is well cared for and the MSJ baseball team and the Rutland Post 31 American Legion club are so lucky to call it home.

2. Montpelier Rec Field: It is the home of the NECBL’s Vermont Mountaineers but there is enough high school baseball played here to include this grand old park near the top of the list. The grandstand adds to the old-time feel of this beauty.

3. Otter Valley. There have been improvements made to the Otters’ diamond in recent seasons that have made it a special place.

4. Bellows Falls’ Hadley Field: The history, the meticulous care by the grounds crew and the baseball conversation, often kick started by Carlton Fisk’s famous home run here when he was a member of the Bellows Falls Post Legion team, makes this a place that oozes character and screams baseball.

5. Windsor’s MacLeay-Royce complex. The Windsor baseball field was groomed by the late Leon Royce, a real baseball man who took care of the diamond as though it were his own yard. It was in many ways and the field remains special today.

Softball venues

1. Lyndon. High school softball here is a treat. Fans look down on a sunken diamond that gives a very different perspective.

2. Poultney’s Legion Field. The diamond located behind Poultney Elementary School has far more than most Division IV schools would dare dream of. The electronic scoreboard, lights, announcers booth and concession are some of the amenities that make this a great place and one that for years hosted the state tournament.

3. Castleton University. This is included since it has become the site of the state championship games. No lights, but it is a Division I caliber facility at a Division III school.

4.. Springfield. It’s a beauty. It is lighted and expertly manicured. I always thought it should be a contender if a spot for the state championship games ever opened up.

5. Greven Field. Green Mountain has called this “Little Fenway” home in recent years. It is complete with the Green Monster. Hopefully, the Chieftains will consider playing at least some games again at this gem in Cavendish.

tom.haley @rutlandherald.com

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