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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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 68 3rd Qtr 5:32
Philadelphia 70
Houston 60 3rd Qtr
Boston 42
Portland 51 3rd Qtr
Atlanta 50
Sacramento 39 2nd Qtr 1:16
Cleveland 52
Toronto 66 3rd Qtr
Brooklyn 54
Dallas 12 1st Qtr 2:45
Miami 15
LA Clippers 26 2nd Qtr
New Orleans 28
Golden State 8:00 PM
Utah
Chicago 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Pittsburgh 0 2nd Prd :13
New Jersey 0
St. Louis 2 2nd Prd 1:18
Carolina 2
Nashville 8:00 PM
Colorado
Buffalo 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Chicago 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 41 2nd Half 8:52
Canisius 45
Brown 49 2nd Half 2:29
Cornell 49
Siena 64 2nd Half 8:24
Manhattan 69
Marist 49 2nd Half 7:46
Niagara 46
Dartmouth 28 2nd Half 10:00
Penn 36
Oregon 22 1st Half 6:15
Arizona State 14
Yale 20 1st Half 6:43
Columbia 23
Monmouth 17 1st Half 5:58
Fairfield 18
IUPUI 17 1st Half 6:40
Western Ill 17
Oregon State 9:00 PM
Arizona
Kent State 9:00 PM
Buffalo
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 61 2nd Half 3:59
Providence 50
Cornell 53 2nd Half 4:18
Brown 44
Columbia 46 2nd Half 3:14
Yale 49
Coll of Charleston 43 2nd Half 5:39
Drexel 52
Penn 51 2nd Half 3:46
Dartmouth 34
Elon 32 2nd Half 11:44
James Madison 62
(19) Princeton 69 2nd Half 10:11
Harvard 35
(9) Florida State 63 2nd Half 7:50
Georgia Tech 46
Quinnipiac 71 2nd Half 7:27
Siena 47
Richmond 49 2nd Half 2:41
Rhode Island 48
Loyola-Chicago 44 2nd Half 10:59
Southern Ill 41
Georgetown 11 1st Half 10:14
DePaul 27
Villanova 17 1st Half 12:00
Marquette 12
Wichita State 15 1st Half 7:51
Northern Iowa 7
Xavier 20 1st Half 5:54
Creighton 29
Bradley 19 1st Half 7:53
Illinois State 8
Missouri State 11 1st Half 13:00
Drake 19
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
(11) Arizona State 8:00 PM
Colorado
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