Minnesota sports stars

  • Updated: May 9, 2008 - 3:17 PM

Some were born here, some just played here. But all were standouts in their field.

Bronko Nagurski

º JANET KARVONEN, 1962-

Karvonen was Minnesota's first post-Title IX superstar. The state girls basketball tournament was held for only the second time in 1977 when Karvonen, a ninth-grader, arrived with her New York Mills teammates and proceeded to win three consecutive Class A titles. Karvonen set a Minnesota high school record by scoring 3,129 points during her career.

BERNIE BIERMAN, 1894-1977

Bierman, a Springfield, Minn., native, played for the Gophers in the mid-1910s. He coached Tulane University to the Rose Bowl in 1931 before returning to Minnesota to coach the Gophers. Referred to as "The Silver Fox" and "The Grey Eagle," he coached the Gophers to five national championships in the next 10 seasons. He won seven Big Ten titles.

LINDSAY WHALEN, 1982-

A Hutchinson native, Whalen is the leading scorer in Gophers basketball history -- male or female -- with 2,285 points. As a senior, she helped lead the Gophers to a 25-9 mark and their first Final Four berth. She played her final games with two broken bones in her right hand. Whalen was drafted by the Connecticut Suns of the WNBA in 2004.

JOHN MARIUCCI, 1916-1987

Mariucci, of Eveleth, played football and hockey for the Gophers. In 1940, he led the Gophers to an unbeaten hockey season and the AAU national championship. He played in the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1940s, returning to coach the Gophers in 1952. He coached the U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal in 1956 and later worked for the North Stars. He is enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the NHL Hall of Fame.

BRONKO NAGURSKI, 1908-1990

Nagurski grew up in International Falls. He played offense and defense for the Gophers, and in 1929 became the only player named All-America at two positions in the same year. He played with the Chicago Bears until 1938. He went home to International Falls and opened a gas station. In 1943, he went back to football, and at 35 he led the Bears to the championship.

HERB BROOKS, 1937-2003

As a high school player with St. Paul Johnson, Brooks won the state hockey title in 1955. Played for the Gophers and for the 1964 and 1968 Olympic teams. Named coach of the Gophers in 1972; the team won NCAA championships in 1974, 1976 and 1979. In 1980, Brooks coached the U.S. Olympic team to an upset of the Soviet Union and eventually a gold medal. He coached the U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal in 2002.

JOHN MAYASICH, 1933-

Led Eveleth High School to four consecutive state hockey championships from 1948-1951. Still holds scoring records for both the state tournament and the Gophers -- 36 goals and 46 points in state tournaments, and 144 goals and 298 points with the Gophers. Won a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics and a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. First Gopher to have his jersey number (8) retired and is enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

KEVIN MCHALE, 1957-

Led his Hibbing Bluejackets to a Class AA runner-up finish in the 1976 state basketball tournament. Went to the Gophers the next year and moved into the starting lineup as a freshman. Drafted No. 3 overall by the Boston Celtics. Returned to Minnesota as an executive with the Timberwolves. Named to the NBA'S 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

NEAL BROTEN, 1959-

Led his Roseau High School team to the state high school hockey tournament in 1978. The next year was part of the Gophers national championship team. In 1980, played center on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal. In 1981, back with the Gophers, he won the first Hobey Baker Award. From 1981-95, Broten played with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars. Traded to New Jersey during the '95 season, where he helped them win the Stanley Cup.

BRUCE SMITH, 1920-1967

Smith, from Faribault, led the Gophers to back-to-back unbeaten seasons and national titles in 1940 and '41. Awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1941 and is Minnesota's only Heisman winner. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

Ø PATTY BERG, 1918-2006

Berg, who grew up in Minneapolis, was a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1950. She was the money leader in 1954, '55 and '57 and ended her career with 60 victories, including a record 15 LPGA major championships. Inducted into more than a dozen Halls of Fame, Berg traveled the world conducting clinics and exhibitions.

PAUL MOLITOR, 1956-

Molitor, a St. Paul native, played baseball for the Gophers from 1975-77 and broke into the pros with Milwaukee in 1978. In 1987, had a 39-game hitting streak. Was World Series MVP for Toronto in 1993. Played for the Twins late in his career, and on Sept. 16, 1996, got his 3,000th hit, a triple in Kansas City. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

KENT HRBEK, 1960-

Grew up in Bloomington, made the jump from Class A to the Twins in August 1981. In 1982, finished second to Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. in voting for AL Rookie of the Year. A lefthanded slugger and an outstanding defensive first baseman, Hrbek was also known for his sense of humor and fun-loving approach to the game. Played 13 seasons for his hometown Twins and was a star in their two World Series victories.

º DAVE WINFIELD, 1951-

A standout athlete as a youth in St. Paul. Received a full baseball scholarship to the U, where he pitched and played outfield for the Gophers and led them to the College World Series in 1973. Also helped the basketball team win a Big Ten Championship in 1972. After college, he went directly to the major leagues with the San Diego Padres, bypassing the minors. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

KIRBY PUCKETT, 1960-2006

Grew up in Chicago housing project, became perhaps the most-loved athlete in Minnesota history. Led Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. During Game 6 of the 1991 World Series had run-saving leaping catch against the outfield fence, and game-ending 11th-inning home run. Stricken with glaucoma in 1996. In 2001, became a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 2,304 career hits, 10 All-Star selections and six Gold Glove Awards.

VERNE GAGNE, 1926-

An outstanding wrestler and football player for Robbinsdale High School. Won a Big Ten wrestling championship for the Gophers in 1944. After two years in the Marines, returned to the university and played defensive end for the Gophers football team. Two-time NCAA champion in wrestling. Turned professional in 1950 and wrestled for nearly 40 years.

GEORGE MIKAN, 1924-2005

Minnesota's first superstar in a major league sport. Came to the Minneapolis Lakers in 1947 and led them to six championships in seven seasons. The game's first dominant center, he won scoring titles in his first six seasons. Several NBA rules changed because of him, including widening the foul lane, introducing a shot clock and prohibiting goaltending. Named the best basketball player of the first half of the 20th century by the Associated Press. A member of the NBA Hall of Fame, and in 1996 was named one of the best 50 players in NBA history.

BUD GRANT, 1927-

Played football, basketball and baseball for the Gophers in the late 1940s. Was a star end for the football team but chose to play basketball for the Minneapolis Lakers after college. In 1951 he started his pro football career, joining the Philadelphia Eagles. Two years later, he joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. At age 29, Grant became the Blue Bombers coach, winning four league championships. Hired as the Vikings coach before the 1967 season and coached for 18 seasons. The Vikings made it to four Super Bowls with Grant at the helm. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

HARMON KILLEBREW, 1936-

The first big star of the Twins and one of baseball's greatest sluggers. Arrived with the team in 1961, its inaugural season, and ended up hitting 475 home runs in 14 years. Ended up with 573 home runs over his career, and hit more than 40 home runs a season eight times. Led the league in home runs six times and in RBI three times, was an All-Star 11 times and won the MVP award in 1969. In 1984 he became the first Twin to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

CALVIN GRIFFITH, 1911-1999

Brought major league baseball to Minnesota when he moved his Washington Senators here after the 1960 season. The Twins made it to the World Series in 1965, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. Sold the team in 1984 to banker Carl Pohlad.

ROD CAREW, 1945-

Best pure hitter of his era. Won seven American League batting titles in 12 seasons with the Twins. In 1977, made a run at hitting .400 and appeared on the covers of Time and Sports Illustrated in the same week. Was traded to the California Angels after the 1978 season, and played seven seasons there. In 1991, he chose to have a Twins hat on his plaque when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

ALAN PAGE, 1945-

Teamed with Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Gary Larsen and Doug Sutherland to give the Vikings a defensive line that would make it to four Super Bowls. In 1971, became the first defensive player to be named NFL MVP. Was named NFC defensive player of the year four times. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. Attended law school during his playing career; now a justice in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Ø PAUL GIEL, 1932-2002

As the Gophers tailback, Giel, from Winona, was twice Big Ten MVP and runner-up to Notre Dame's Johnny Lattner for the Heisman Trophy in 1953. Signed a baseball contract with the New York Giants after graduation and pitched briefly for the Twins in 1961. He returned to the university as athletic director in 1971 and held that position until summer 1988.

FRAN TARKENTON, 1940-

Led the Vikings to the three Super Bowls in the '70s. His signature scrambling style allowed him to improvise and make plays seemingly out of nothing. Retired as the NFL's all-time leading passer with 342 touchdowns and 47,003 yards. Was the NFL's MVP in 1975 and became the first Vikings player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

JOHN GAGLIARDI, 1926-

Head football coach of St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., since 1953. With 453 victories, he has the most wins of any coach in college football history. His teams have finished atop the MIAC 25 times and have won two national NAIA championships and two NCAA Division III titles. The Gagliardi Award is presented to the outstanding player in NCAA Division III football.

  • related content

  • Patty Berg

  • Kirby Puckett

  • DAVE WINFIELD

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Timberwolves season

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close