Editor’s note: This story appeared on a special “Peach” page in the sports section of Friday’s Star Tribune. Pick up any edition of Friday’s paper to check it out.
Think of it as “SportsCenter” before TV highlights existed.
A peach-colored Minneapolis newspaper sports section delivered over-the-top coverage of Golden Gophers football every Sunday in the fall to a readership spanning the Upper Midwest. Its distinctive color was as easy to find in the thick wad of sections as it was to read.
“Gopher Touchdown Parade Engulfs Arizona, 62 to 0,” shouted the headline atop the first “Sunday peach” on Oct. 1, 1939 in the Minneapolis Star Journal. “Bierman Boys Get No Test in ’39 Opener / 42,875 Witness Record Scoring Spree.” A big photograph with the story showed future Heisman Trophy winner Bruce Smith, conveniently labeled in the scrum of bodies, leading the way as a teammate rushed for a touchdown.
Inside the 12-page Peach: More college football stories and commentary, including five pages of Gophers pictures. One page featured images from a “giant howitzer” camera developed by the newspaper, which boasted that its 28-inch lens made “far-off action big as life.”
Once the film was developed, artists and editors touched up photos of a key play — circling the ball, dotting the path of a run or arc of a pass. Players were labeled by last name, sometimes, it was said, with Gophers coach Murray Warmath standing by to explain the action.
When the presses rolled Saturday night into Sunday morning, the Peach was printed as part of 600,000 Sunday newspapers during its heyday.
With no local pro sports teams in the market, the Peach fawned over the Gophers, from their national championships in 1940 and 1941 through the ’50s and ’60s, when they last shared a Big Ten championship in 1967.
The peach newsprint didn’t last much longer. References to “Sunday Peach” vanished from the Minneapolis Tribune in 1971, when the paper was dramatically redesigned to modernize its typography. By then, the Sunday sports section’s focus included the Twins, Vikings and North Stars.
And the Golden Gophers. But the team, like the newspaper, wasn’t the same.
And with a matchup worthy of the days of the Peach, the Star Tribune goes into throwback mode today, with a special page in the sports section of Friday's Star Tribune. Pick up any edition of Friday's paper to check it out.
You'll find these stories:
And back in the 21st century, you'll also find: