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Excerpt from Fluffball!

The story of the Foam Basketball Association is also the story of no small number of kooks, weirdos, flakes, freaks, bullies, punks, knuckleheads, chuckleheads, and guys who just didn’t have a lot going on upstairs. Carl and Ralph Schrelkendorf, the multimillionaire owners of Schrelkendorf Brothers Brewery, knew a lot about making beer but not a lot about running a professional Foam basketball team. This, however, didn’t stop them from buying the original Oakland franchise and moving it to Seattle in 1983. The Schrelkendorfs were famous for saddling their teams with more restrictive rules and regulations than a Catholic girls school. One of the players who came over from Oakland was a guard named Joe DeVega, who happened to be lactose-intolerant. The Schrelkendorfs somehow thought it was thus only fair to forbid any player from consuming dairy products within 24 hours of the opening tip-off. In 1986 they decreed that players who wanted to be reimbursed for new athletic supporters had to prove that the old ones were no longer effective. A year later came the rule that made it a violation for players to have sex with their wives on the night before a game, though of course some players considered the word “night” the loophole in that rule and others considered it the word “wives.” No turtleneck sweaters on road trips. No autographs before or after games. No playing bridge in the clubhouse. And of course the infamous Mustache Rule: The only style of mustache allowed was the British General, which exposed a good quarter-inch of skin between the bottom of the ’stache and the top of the upper lip. The Schrelkendorfs’ reasoning was that styles like the Fu Manchu or the Sonny Bono made it difficult for deaf fans to read the players’ lips.

   When it gets right down to it, the Schrelkendorf brothers didn’t know that much about making beer either. But someone at the brewery must have.


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