Richfield High School had a long line of great athletes from the late 1950s through the 1960s. As old Spartans rattle off the names, they never fail to include Bob Sadek.

That's what made it something of a surprise last week to be reminded by Brett Sadek, Bob's son, that his father played varsity sports at Richfield for only a portion of his senior year.

The Sadeks were living in Minneapolis in the mid-'50s when Bob's father, an office employee for Armour, was transferred to Illinois. The family moved to the Chicago suburb of Park Forest after Bob's eighth-grade year.

Bob was in the fall of his senior year and playing quarterback for Park Forest when Armour summoned his father to the headquarters in South St. Paul.

"I finished up football, and then we moved back to Minnesota,'' Sadek said.

Sadek said he wasn't aware of any Richfield athletes before his first day at the high school, not even the tremendous Bill Davis, a basketball and baseball star.

"I was only there a half-year, but those Richfield guys I played sports with ... they are my best friends 50 years later,'' Sadek said.

Sadek worked his way into the Richfield basketball lineup and the Spartans made it to the 1960 state tournament. This was the year of Edgerton, Minnesota's answer to the Hickory Huskers. Richfield lost a foul-plagued overtime game to Edgerton in the semifinals.

"We came up with so many ways to play those guys again,'' Sadek said. "We wanted to drive somewhere, meet them in an empty gym -- just the two teams -- and play again.''

Sadek had a slight chuckle for those youthful plots and said of the Edgerton champs: "They are really a good group of guys.''

A reunion was held for the players from Edgerton and 1960 runner-up Austin this March at the state tournament. Sadek and Davis were invited to represent Richfield for the nostalgia fest.

"I saw Richie Olson and he said, 'I remember you. You're the guy I used to beat in one-on-one,'" Sadek said.

Olson was the Edgerton coach. He went from there to Virginia. And Sadek, in the College of Education at Minnesota, did his student teaching in that Iron Range locale.

"That's what Richie and I did every day ... play one-on-one,'' Sadek said.

Sadek went to the U as a quarterback. He was a freshman in 1960 when the Gophers went to their first Rose Bowl. Freshmen were ineligible to play and didn't make the trip to Pasadena.

A year later, the Gophers went again, with All-America Sandy Stephens and Duane Blaska ahead of Sadek on the quarterback depth chart. Blaska was an effective starter on another excellent team in 1962. It took until his senior year in 1963 for Sadek to get a chance to play.

Bob went off to a career of teaching and coaching football and/or baseball. He had stops at Macalester, Northern Michigan, Hamline, New Mexico State and Rosemount, Eagan and Apple Valley high schools.

Younger brother Mike went to Minnesota as a catcher. He was drafted and signed by the Twins in 1967, taken by San Francisco in the minor league draft two years later, and stuck out seven-plus seasons as the Giants' backup catcher.

Mike went through a tragedy a decade ago when his daughter, Nicole Sadek-Cadiz, died in a parachuting accident. "That's the toughest thing that can happen to anyone -- to lose a child,'' Bob said. "Mike's doing well, though. He has three grandkids and he follows everything that they do.''

Mike lives in California. Bob, Mike and their mother, Norma, stay connected with three-way phone conversations.

How often? "Every night,'' Bob said.

Bob, 67, retired from teaching a couple of years ago. His retirement includes assisting his son, Brett, with sophomore football and adapted floor hockey and coaching sophomore baseball at Apple Valley. He also sees every athletic endeavor possible involving his grandkids.

Sadek went in for a routine physical a while back and was sent to a cardiologist. He was diagnosed with an amyloid buildup. He was told that this will lead to the need for a heart transplant.

"My reaction was, 'What!'" Bob said. "I feel fine. We might be talking about five years ... or 10. Really. It's not a big deal. The Sadeks are doing fine.''

To be sure of that, Bob, Mike and Norma check in with one another every night.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. •