The first All-Star Game in Minnesota, the Twins winning 102 games and the American League pennant, and the seven-game World Series with the Dodgers made 1965 the Year of Baseball more than ever in Minnesota.
What else made sports news here 50 years ago?
• The Vikings were coming off their first winning season, and optimism was in full force after a three-game winning streak had them at 5-3 with Baltimore coming to Met Stadium on Nov. 11.
Final: Colts 41, Vikings 21, with five touchdown passes from Colts backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo.
Norm Van Brocklin, a coach known for his blue moods, stewed during the night and then announced on Monday that he was quitting. He had decided that he could not get the Vikings “over the hump’’ as a coach.
One day later, Van Brocklin returned to work, after being lobbied by General Manager Jim Finks and the board of directors. The Vikings responded to the Dutchman’s return by surrendering 28 points in the fourth quarter in a 38-13 loss to the Packers at Met Stadium.
• The NHL announced on March 11, 1965, that the league would create an expansion division — going from six to 12 teams — starting with the 1967-68 season. Minneapolis-St. Paul was mentioned as a favored location immediately. The franchise was awarded to Walter Bush and his group on Feb. 9, 1966. Met Center was built in 12 months for $7 million.
• Gophers football was still a competitive force and on the same level of interest (if not higher) as the Vikings in 1965. The Gophers opened with a 20-20 tie with Southern Cal, and closed by clobbering Wisconsin 42-7. They were 6-4-1 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten, which coach Murray Warmath summarized as a “creditable year.’’
• Michigan was led by superstar Cazzie Russell and rated No. 1 in the basketball polls when it came to Williams Arena on Feb. 23. The Gophers, with Lou Hudson and Archie Clark, were rated No. 8 by the Associated Press.
The headline in the Minneapolis Tribune on game day read: “ ‘U’ vs. Michigan — Biggest in Decade.’’
It was that, as a crowd of 17,600 showed up in the Barn. Russell scored 27, Hudson 25 and Michigan pulled away late for a 91-78 victory. It was a time when a team had to win a conference title to go to the NCAA tournament. Thus, a Minnesota team that was 11-3 in the Big Ten and 19-5 overall packed it up at the end of the regular season.
• The St. Paul Open still was being held as a PGA Tour event at Keller Golf Course. Raymond Floyd, 22, finished at 14-under-par 270 and won by four strokes over Tommy Aaron. Jack Nicklaus tied for fifth and Arnold Palmer tied for seventh. Floyd collected the $20,000 from the $100,000 total purse.
• St. John’s ripped Linfield (Ore.) 33-0 to win the NAIA national football title. This was quite a surprise to young coach John Gagliardi, since two years earlier he had called his team’s presence in the NAIA title game (against Prairie View A&M) a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.’’ The Johnnies won that one, too. Gagliardi was so content after second title, he only coached another 47 seasons in Collegeville.
• There was no Title IX, no varsity high school sports for girls. Minnetonka beat Faribault for the basketball title and International Falls outclassed Bloomington 7-0 for the second of three straight state hockey titles. The Tribune’s Ted Peterson declared Edina-Morningside to be the state’s “mythical’’ football champion, over Robbinsdale and Minneapolis Central.
The private schools were not associated with the Minnesota State High School League at the time. That didn’t take place until the fall of 1974. The private champions were Austin Pacelli in basketball, Duluth Cathedral in hockey and Cretin by consensus in football.
• In a demonstration that reconciliation is possible for all men, Verne Gagne and the Crusher — once bitter enemies — came together to defeat Pretty Boy Larry Hennig and Handsome Harley Race to win the AWA World Tag Team title on July 24, 1965. There was a crowd of 8,156 in the Minneapolis Auditorium, and many wept with joy as Verne and the Crusher triumphantly shared the belt.