Sixty years ago, 17 athletes, coaches and influencers made up the inaugural class of the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame. Bronko Nagurski. George Mikan. Patty Berg. Bernie Bierman and 13 other era-defining names.
More than 1,400 Minnesotans gathered then — early May 1958 — for "the most enthusiastic, most impressive, biggest and most successful sports dinner these parts have ever known," sports editor Charles Johnson wrote.
For more than a half-century, inductees would be called into the Hall, celebrated with dinners and ceremonies across the state, across the decades.
If at this point you're asking, "There's a Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame?" — you're forgiven. Ten Hall of Famers were celebrated as the Class of 2006 at halftime of the Gophers homecoming football game against Indiana on Nov. 4 of that year. Kirby Puckett. Sandy Stephens. Dorothy McIntyre. Rod Carew and six other stars were inducted, bringing the number of honorees to 72.
And then it went dark.
The Star Tribune is proud to announce it will revive its Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame after a dozen dormant years this fall with a ceremony on Oct. 24 at the Minnesota Sports Awards, hosted by Sports Minneapolis. A Class of 2018 will also be announced that evening at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Star Tribune's Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame will fully relaunch in 2019 as an online destination. Before then, the Star Tribune will be publishing biographies of each member and sharing stories of the history of the Hall of Fame. It's a rich past that the news organization is excited to bring into the present.
"Quite simply, we're sports fans, too," said Mike Klingensmith, CEO and publisher of the Star Tribune. "And for as long as there have been sports in Minnesota, the Star Tribune has been covering, spotlighting and celebrating the unforgettable moments and the greats who made them happen. As part of that mission, 60 years ago, we created the Star Tribune Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, which grew into a highly anticipated highlight of the annual sports calendar. It's a privilege to revive this sports and civic institution in partnership with Sports Minneapolis."
From Bronko to Kirby and all honorees in between, the Hall of Fame recognizes a tremendous Minnesota sports legacy. Next month, it will restart its mission.