Tim Herron was walking through a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Behind him and to the side, Herron heard someone say with enthusiasm: “Hey, Lumpy, how’s it going? Great to see you.”
As a multi-winner carrying that nickname on the PGA Tour, Herron turned to offer a salutation. And then he noted the unknown party was addressing Mike Leuthner, another graduate of Wayzata High in the second half of the 1980s.
Wayzata’s Original Lumpy. Lumpy 1.
“I called him L-1,” Herron said. “I was on the PGA Tour and more people knew Leuthner than me. I mean, that day at LAX, neither of us knew the other Lumpy was in town, but he was 20 feet away in the terminal and still the Original.”
Leuthner’s reach with people was demonstrated to his new bride, Rebecca, at another airport, in Anchorage, Alaska.
“We were coming back from our honeymoon in Hawaii,” she said. “It was 2 a.m. and we’re waiting for a connection … in Alaska! And this guy, I had no idea who he was, says, ‘Lumpy!’ and Lumpy is excited to see him and starts asking specifics about his family.”
Emily Frager, Leuthner’s kid sister by five years, gave a eulogy for her brother to the 500-plus people who attended his funeral at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Medina in October 2018. She offered this example of her brother’s reach:
“I was about 12 and walking home from the Corcoran Fairgrounds. A police officer offered to give me a ride home. When I told him where I lived, he said, ‘Oh, Lumpy’s house.’ ”
Had the cop arrested him, per chance? Frager, at home in California this week, said: “No, although there’s a good chance our mom was gone for a night and the police stopped by to tell him to quiet down the party.”
This interest in Wayzata’s other Lumpy came from a column in February, after Herron’s first round of play as a 50-year-old on the Champions Tour in Naples, Fla.
The tale was told of Herron being branded “Lumpy” while working as a high schooler at Woodhill Country Club for club pro Phil Reith. The Lumpy nickname did not leave Woodhill until Herron was on his way to victory in the 1996 Honda Classic, and Bob Reith, Phil’s brother, had passed it along to telecaster Dave Marr.
Andrew Kuehnel, a Wayzata youth now living in California, sent an e-mail pointing out that Mike Leuthner, not Tim Herron, was Wayzata’s Original Lumpy.
Leuthner graduated from Wayzata in 1987 and Herron in 1989. They were part of a group of 50-60 guys from several grades that ran together. Leuthner and Herron were close enough that, when the “Lumpy” references started on the tour, Herron called Leuthner and asked permission to go with it.
“He said, ‘Lumpy will be great for you, but remember, you’re the second,” Herron said.
Steve Rod, a close friend from early high school, said Leuthner became “Lumpy” one afternoon when baseball teammate Jay Cavanagh observed him chugging to first base and decided that was his running style: lumpy.
“He had great hand-to-eye coordination,” Rod said. “He was an excellent skier and snowboarder. He lived in Breckenridge [Colo.] for a couple of years out of high school. But running — somehow, he ran on his toes and still managed to look flat-footed. It was hilarious … like his speaking style, rapid and with a thick tongue. We called it ‘Lumpanese.’ ”
The Wayzata crew socialized at Sunsets, a bar on the water.
“Lumpy 1 was the king of Sunsets,” Herron said. “The quality I admired most is that he was content. On the golf tour, we’re saying, ‘I’d rather be there this week.’ With L-1, the place that he was, that’s the place he wanted to be.”
Herron partnered with Bill Murray in the team competition in the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach for several years. Leuthner and Rebecca were big fans of Murray. They went to the tournament in 2010 and Herron was able to corral Murray for a dinner in a small restaurant — just the four of them.
“Lumpy 1 decided that he and Bill were best friends,” Rod said. “After about six months, I said, ‘Enough with the Bill Murray stories.’ ”
That timeline worked out, because Leuthner had another topic: After several years of trying and then fertility treatments, Rebecca was pregnant with triplets. Dominic, Emmett and Cecelia were born on March 11, 2011.
“You would run into him, and he’d ask about your family, so you would ask about his, and you’d be looking at photos of the triplets on his cellphone for the next 10 minutes,” Herron said.
Leuthner’s father, Butch, had died of a heart attack at age 36. Lumpy 1 was 49 when he had a fatal heart attack at the family home in Long Lake on Oct. 18, 2018.
Russ Lindquist, a friend of both Lumpys, summarized the Original thusly: “He was the Duke of Wayzata. If you were meeting him some place and didn’t plan to stay long, you had better change your plan.”
Write to Patrick Reusse by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and including his name in the subject line.