MINNEAPOLIS -- This is weird. Wild, too. I am sitting in the second row of the baseball press box at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and the young man sitting in the chair to my left is the new director of hockey operations for the Minnesota Wild.
As I write this, the Wild's director of hockey ops is typing madly, crafting the Red Sox-Twins game story you see on this very same newspaper page. The director of hockey ops is working feverishly to make deadline so you'll all know what happened last night when Matt Clement went to the mound to face the Twins.
Weird. Wild. Chris Snow, the Globe's 24-year-old baseball writer, is leaving next month to start a career in the front office of an NHL team. And I wonder -- can the Globe file tampering charges against the Wild? Can we get a draft pick out of this? A luxury box? Jeremy Jacobs tax returns? Cash? Something?
It's not the first time a young man has made the leap from sportswriter to club executive. New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi was a sportswriter for the Charlotte News, Baltimore Sun, and Philadelphia Inquirer before he became one of the NFL's top executives. Frank Cashen and Harry Dalton, two of the great GMs in baseball history, started their careers as ink-stained wretches. The late Tex Schramm was a scribe before he ran the Dallas Cowboys, and Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney was in the press box before joining the front office. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti covered sports for the Philadelphia Journal long before taking over one of baseball's signature franchises. One of Colletti's predecessors, Fred Claire, also was a sportswriter.
We all know that Peter Gammons should have been a baseball general manager, but by the time he had the chance, he could not afford the pay cut. The estimable Gammons settled for a position as national baseball laureate and de facto commissioner. But what fan would not be comfortable with Gammons making personnel decisions for his or her team?
Oh, and then there's a young man named Theo Epstein. Believe it or not, there was a time when young Theo wanted to be one of us. I still remember a 19-year-old Theo bounding into the Yale Bowl press box before the 1993 Harvard-Yale game, proudly handing me a copy of his controversial column in the Yale student paper. Entitled, ``Is It Time For Carm To Go?" Theo's rip job called for the ouster of longtime Eli football coach Carm Cozza. Theo wanted to become a sportswriter.
Wonder what he's doing these days?
Growing up in Melrose, Snow didn't play hockey. He remembers going to the old Garden with his dad, sitting in Section G, Row 1, behind the net, watching Andy Moog stone the Sabres. He started writing sports when he went to Malden Catholic ('99) and continued at Syracuse, twice joining the Globe as a summer intern. He graduated in 2003, then covered the Wild for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough was impressed with Snow and they stayed in touch after Chris came to the Globe to cover the world champion Red Sox.
Many of you have gotten to know Chris on these pages and through television appearances in the last year and a half, and even though he may not know as much hockey as Scotty Bowman, it's easy to see why Risebrough is impressed.
``They have a need and they were willing to think outside the box," Chris said yesterday. ``I've done nothing in the sport, but these are people I believe in. I like the sport and I like their vision."
The press release issued by the Wild yesterday said Snow's duties will include monitoring rosters and salary commitments of 30 NHL teams, and assisting with player contracts, arbitration research, and statistical analysis. Here's hoping he doesn't take the Maniacal Chuck Waseleski with him.
The Wild's new director of hockey ops was approached by a handful of Minneapolis-St. Paul sportswriters when he arrived in the press box yesterday afternoon (``Who does he think he is -- Theo Epstein Jr.?" asked Twins Cities media icon Sid Hartman). Like Theo, the man he's been grilling for the last year and a half, Chris wouldn't talk about salary or length of contract. After politely answering their hockey questions, he went downstairs to talk to Red Sox manager Terry Francona about the decision to take Coco Crisp out of the leadoff spot. Weird. Wild.
News of Snow's new position moved swiftly through the Red Sox' clubhouse.
``It looks like anybody can be in a front office," joked Francona. ``Apparently it's not that tough."
``This is in vogue in sports now," said second baseman Mark Loretta. ``Baseball's been going with young whiz kids as GMs. Maybe hockey is taking a page from that. Good for Chris."
``That's pretty funny," said Tim Wakefield.
``Can he skate?" asked Trot Nixon.
``Who's Chris?" said Manny Ramírez.
It certainly wasn't the block party/bacchanalia they would have held if it was learned that a certain Globe columnist might be leaving, but it was pretty clear that Chris had earned a lot of respect in the Sox' locker room.
Accorsi was a little surprised to hear of Chris's career move.
``When I did it, front offices were not that big," said the Giants' GM. ``There were five people in the Colts' front office in 1970 and we all did everything. In those days, all of the commissioners had been PR guys. We were communicators and it was the way to get in. There was more trust between writers and the front office. I think those days are over. Now it's a one-in-a-million shot."
Weird. Wild. One in a million.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is email@example.com.