Game 576 | January 9 | Dan Monson
In their second season under Coach Monson the basketball Gophers made a modest improvement to 18-14 overall and a ninth-place finish in the Big Ten. The team qualified for post-season play and made it to the second round of the NIT, losing in overtime to Tulsa. Dusty Rychart and Terrance Simmons led the team in scoring.
Game 577 | February 6 | Kirby Puckett
His career cut short by eye problems in 1996, Puckett was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 in the first year his name appeared on the ballot. He was one of only two players to record 2,000 hits in his first 10 years of major league play. His career batting average of .318 was the highest of any right-handed American League hitter in the second half of the 20th Century.
Game 578 | March 2 | John Anderson, Hormel Classic Baseball Coaches
Jack Hannahan, a future major leaguer, was the Big Ten's Player of the Year for the Gophers in 2001. The Gophers lost star pitcher Ben Birk after he was struck by a line drive, but still managed to win the Big Ten Tournament. Hormel Classic teams included Arkansas, Miami and San Diego State.
Game 579 | March 13 | Frozen Four Women's Hockey Coaches
The first ever NCAA Women's Hockey Frozen Four championship was held in Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. The championship featured teams from the University of Minnesota Duluth, Harvard, Dartmouth and St. Lawrence. UMD defeated Lawrence for the title, and coaches from all four teams met with the Dunkers on the eve of the opening round.
Game 580 | March 30 | Dick Schaap
A prolific sportswriter; broadcaster and author of 33 books, Schaap became known to television viewers for his essays and profiles, known in the trade as "think pieces." A childhood friend of chess champion Bobby Fischer; Schaap began work writing sports for Newsweek magazine. With Jerry Kramer he co-authored the 1968 best seller; Instant Replay, and followed that a year later with a Joe Namath classic, I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow ... Cuz I Get Better Looking Every Day. He died at age 70 during what was expected to be routine hip replacement surgery just nine months after appearing at Dunkers.
Game 581 | April 9 | George Mikan
An effort led by Dunker Dennis Schulstad was successful in raising enough money to fund the building of a statue to Minneapolis Laker legend Mikan. The statue, in the lobby of the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, showed Mikan lofting his classic hook shot. It was the final Dunkers appearance for Mikan who died in 2005 at age 79.
Game 582 | May 4 | Brian Billick
An 11th-round pick in the 1977 NFL draft, Brian Billick was cut by the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys and never played in an NFL game. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Brigham Young in 1978, and was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1998. He became head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 1999, led the team to victory in Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants, and was fired at the end of the 2007 season.
Game 583 | May 23 | Tom Kelly, Joe Mays
Acquired in a trade with Seattle for outfielder Roberto Kelly, Joe Mays led all Twins pitchers in 2001 with a 17-13 record and 3.16 earned run average. He missed all of the 2004 season with Tommy John surgery and was released after the 2005 season. The 2001 Twins, in Kelly's last season as manager; finished 85-77, six games out of first.
Game 584 | June 8 | Dave Winfield
A native of St. Paul, Dave Winfield was born on the same day in October 1951 that Bobby Thomson hit his pennant-winning home run to lead the New York Giants to victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Winfield went directly from the University of Minnesota to the San Diego Padres outfield. He returned home to the Minnesota Twins where he collected his 3,000th major league hit. His Dunkers appearance coincided with his entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York, where he chose to be enshrined as a Padre, despite spending 10 productive years as a New York Yankee.
Game 585 | June 21 | Jim Awtrey
Serving as CEO of the PGA of America from 1988 to 2005, Awtrey oversaw the growth of professional golf from an annual budget of $12.5 million in 1987 to $135.6 million in 2004. He was in Minnesota to attend the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine which was won by Rich Beem.
Game 586 | July 24 | Dennis Denning
A legendary baseball coach at St. Thomas, Denning led his team to the Division III national championship in 2001 with a victory over Marietta, Ohio. Well-known and respected in St. Paul, Denning's teams over the years featured the likes of Paul Molitor, Chris Wienke, Steve Walsh and Joe Mauer.
Game 587 | August 8 | Bruce Fleisher
A native of Tennessee, Fleisher won the 1968 U.S. Amateur while an undergraduate at Furman University. He turned pro the next year and won his only PGA Tour event in 1991. However, upon reaching 50, he joined the Champion's Tour and won 18 times between 1999-2004. Each year, Dunkers Hollis Cavner and Tom Duffy bring to Dunkers top players from the 3M Championship event they put on in Blaine. Fleisher was the 2001 U.S. Senior Champion.
Game 588 | August 23 | Glen Mason
The Gopher football team, coming off two straight bowl appearances, took a step backwards in 2001. The team finished 4-7 overall and tied for lOth in the Big Ten. Asad Abdul-Khaliq made his debut at quarterback, Tellis Redmon led the team in rushing, and Ron Johnson had 56 catches and nine touchdowns, making him the most prolific receiver in Gopher football history.
Game 589 | September 27 | Mike Hebert
In the final year for setter Lindsey Berg and middle blocker Stephanie Hagen, Hebert's volleyball Gophers earned their third consecutive NCAA appearance. They defeated DePaul in opening-round play before losing in five games to Northern Iowa.
Game 590 | October 9 | Patty Sheehan
One year before golf's Solheim Cup came to Interlachen, Sheehan visited Dunkers on Media Day. One of the most successful golfers in the history of women's professional golf, Sheehan won six major championships and 35 total events. She won the U.S. Open in 1992 and 1994, the LPGA Championship in 1994 and the Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1996.
Game 591 | November 13 | Dan Monson
The 2001-'02 season for Monson's basketball Gophers was nearly a carbon copy of the year before. The team finished 18-13, but improved to a sixth-place Big Ten finish. Once again they made the NIT post-season field and again lost in the second round, this time to Richmond. The team was led in scoring by Dusty Rychart, Michael Bauer and freshman Rick Rickert.
Game 592 | October 18 | Brenda Oldfield, Corrin Von Wald, Kididja Andersson,
After a series of l0th and 11th-place finishes under Coach Cheryl Littlejohn, Women's Athletics Director Chris Voelz brought in Coach Oldfield to turn around the program. An Iowa native with previous experience at Ball State, Oldfield produced immediate results. The team improved to a record of 22-8, finished second in the Big Ten and defeated UNLV before losing to North Carolina in post-season NCAA play. After one season at Minnesota, she resigned to become head coach at Maryland, changed her name to Brenda Frese and won the National Championship in 2006.
Game 593 | November 20 | Don Lucia
In his third year coaching the hockey Gophers, Lucia finished with a record of 32-8-4 and won the NCAA Frozen Four with a 4-3 overtime victory over Maine at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It was the Gophers' first NCAA title in 23 years. Jordan Leopold and John Pohl were named first-team All-Americans, and Leopold won the Hobey Baker Award. Senior goaltender Adam Hauser became the WCHA's all-time leader with 83 career wins.
Game 594 | November 28 | Aaron Gavey
Acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay, Gavey, a right winger, played for the Wild in their first two seasons. In 2001-02, the team's second year, the Wild finished five points ahead of the previous year with a record of 26-35-12-9. Andrew Brunette and Marian Gaborik led the team in scoring.