Most people have come to know Springfield, Massachusetts as the birthplace of basketball.

However, a Central New York group believes a YMCA athletic director in Herkimer actually came up with the idea for the game that's played today.

Now, those local basketball roots are being used as an incentive to give the village a facelift.

“We have to give it our best shot,” said Herkimer 9 Founder Scott Flansburg.

Flansburg, a Herkimer native, remembers the village’s Main Street during a much better time.

“This Main Street was a thriving metropolis. We had bars and restaurants, and it was a fun place to be,” Flansburg said.

Flansburg and his group, known as the Herkimer 9 Foundation, want to bring that fun back. Their plan is to rejuvenate North Main Street based off of Herkimer’s basketball roots.

Many know Flansburg as “the human calculator” for his freakish speed with numbers. He’s a world record holder, author and host of his own TV show on the History Channel.

But after living in Arizona for the last 30 years, he’s not back in Herkimer because of math.

“There was a book called 'I Grew Up With Basketball' by Frank J. Basloe that claims that Herkimer invented basketball, and that the first game was here," he said. "We had the first rim, the first net and the first backboard."

The book, written in 1952, is Basloe’s account of how Herkimer YMCA director Lambert Will actually came up with the idea and concept for the game.

Although James Naismith is credited for inventing the game in Springfield in December 1891, many believe the game was being played months before that in Herkimer.

Flansburg and his group, made up of successful business owners and dignitaries, recently hired a forensic and research team.

“We have over 500 documents that people have not seen in between 70 and 130 years that really put the pieces of the puzzle together to show how Herkimer not only invented basketball, but innovated it,” Flansburg said.

The goal is to transform downtown into a basketball hub and spur economic growth.

The Herkimer 9 Foundation has laid out plans for an athletics complex on North Main Street, as well as the world’s largest basketball positioned where the Herkimer YMCA once stood. That’s where the first-ever game is believed to have been played. The new complex would host youth tournaments and other athletic events.

The foundation’s new ABA pro team, the Herkimer Originals, begin playing at Herkimer College this fall and will eventually play its home games in the venue.

“This came together quite well with coaches and players from the region too, which I think a lot of people will see those names back on a local court,” said Herkimer Originals President of Basketball Operations Nicholas Laino.

Some of the other plan highlights include a new hotel in the former Palmer House Hotel Building, along with a museum where local basketball artifacts would be placed.

Herkimer 9 recently purchased the former Quackenbush Factory nearby and has plans to create a STEAM learning and business development center there.

“Science, technology, arts, engineering and math are the driving force of the future, and so we want to give our children here in this community a chance to tune into those skills,” said Flansburg.

Flansburg said the price tag for this project is roughly $50 million. However, he believes with the right effort, including donors, grants and a step-by-step approach, anything is possible.

“I would be disappointed if I didn’t give this a try because I know it’s possible," Flansburg said. "These things happen all over the world every day. Why not here? Why not now?"

It's the right mentality to help make a dream become a reality and remind people that the roots of the popular game came from right here in Central New York.

The Herkimer Originals are excited to play their first ever pro game on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Herkimer College.

For more information about the team or about the Herkimer 9 Strategic Plan, just visit

For more information on the new Herkimer Originals basketball team, visit