Reusse: Prep basketball, college football made 1960 wonderful

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2013 - 12:25 AM

Edgerton in basketball and the Gophers in football thrilled the state’s sports fans.

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Tiny Edgerton, led by a young coach named Richie Olson, made a Cinderella run to the State Tournament title and packed Williams Arena for all three of its games.

Photo: File photo courtesy of Dean Verdoes,

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We had another reminder last week that 1960 was the watershed year in the history of Minnesota sports. This came with the sad news that Richie Olson had died from injuries suffered in a fall at his lake place north of Virginia, Minn.

Olson had a long tenure as the basketball coach at Virginia, yet his name always has been attached to the Edgerton Dutchmen, the champions of the one-class boys’ basketball tournament in 1960.

The clarifications of one-class and boys were not necessary in 1960. It was the State Tournament. Period.

It wasn’t a better time; just simpler.

There were two days on that calendar that will live in the souls of Baby Boomer sports fans:

• On March 26, Edgerton with its 94 students in the top four grades, defeated Austin, a longtime basketball power, 72-61 to win the state title. There was a record crowd of 19,018 in Williams Arena.

• On Nov. 5, the football Gophers, rated No. 3, defeated No. 1 Iowa 27-10. There was a bulging crowd of 65,292 at Memorial Stadium. The Gophers moved to No. 1 and wound up there in the final ratings from AP and UPI (voting covered only the regular season).

This was a year when the best of our baseball came from the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints in the triple-A American Association, and when pro football fans in the Twin Cities watched the Green Bay Packers as their “home team’’ on Sunday afternoons.

The Minneapolis Lakers had announced officially they were moving to Los Angeles, after losing in the seventh game of the Western Conference finals to the St. Louis Hawks on March 26.

It can be claimed that this was a major league area starting in 1947 with the Lakers, but it would be false.

Tickets were tougher to get for the State Tournament in cavernous Williams Arena than for any of the Lakers’ five title runs (1949-50, 1952-54) in much smaller arenas. And the nine Saturdays on which the Gophers played a football game created more anxiety for more Minnesotans than all other sports events within our borders.

Edgerton put a Barn-busting 18,436 customers inside Williams when it defeated Chisholm 65-54 in the quarterfinals on Thursday night, and 18,812 when it defeated mighty Richfield 63-60 in overtime on Friday night, and then the 19-plus when it defeated Austin.

It couldn’t get any better on the Minnesota’s sports scene than that Saturday night, with Richie Olson’s high-pitched voice piercing through the din, and the lads named Veenhof, Kreun, Verdoes, Graphenteen and Wiarda bringing down the big boys.

And yet it did, 7½ months later, in the crispness of fall, when the great Tom Brown crashed into the Iowa center, forcing a bad exchange and a fumble — a crucial play that told us the Gophers’ toughness would be too much for the Hawkeyes’ talent to overcome.

March 26 and Nov. 5, 1960. I turned 15 that October and the events of those dates remain among the top few as a Minnesota sports follower.

And then the calendar turned, and our sports scene never again was simple. The Twins started play in April and Pete Ramos shut out the Yankees in the Bronx. The Vikings started for keeps in September and Fran Tarkenton came off the bench to lead a 34-13 rout of the Chicago Bears.

We were now big league … and today, as the Vikings open a season of hope, that’s true more than ever.

Anyone under the Social Security age of 62 could have noted the death of Richie Olson, and read a snippet of his Edgerton history, but there’s no way to have appreciated the full magnitude without living those three magical days of March 1960.

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Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
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Chicago Cubs 2
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Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 12 1st Qtr 6:31
Portland 11
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 0 3rd Prd
Arizona 1
Montreal 0 1st Prd 8:53
Los Angeles 2
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
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Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
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Connecticut 51
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Southern Utah 69
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North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
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Idaho State 74
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Quinnipiac 56
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Belmont 84
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UC Irvine 25
CS-Northridge 25 2nd Half
Long Beach State 30
UC Riverside 30 2nd Half
UC Davis 25
Stanford 10:00 PM
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East Tenn St 73
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UCLA 80
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Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
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Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
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Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
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New Orleans 84
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Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
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Texas Southern 73
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Miss Valley St 0
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Mercer 75
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Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
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Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
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Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Colorado 69 2nd Half 3:53
USC 56
San Francisco 71 2nd Half 0:19
Pacific 64
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Idaho 68
Purdue 51 2nd Half 11:29
Minnesota 56
Cal-Irvine 23 2nd Half
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CS-Northridge 43
Hawaii 30 2nd Half
UC Santa Barbara 23
UC Davis 25 2nd Half
UC-Riverside 32
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Portland State 31
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