Game 688 | January 23 | Joel Maturi
With construction under way at TCF Bank Stadium, Gopher Athletic Director Maturi and Associate Athletic Director Phil Esten gave Dunkers a preview of what to expect when Minnesota returns to campus on September 12, 2009, to play the Air Force Academy. The 50,000-seat open air facility could be expanded to 80,000 with the addition of a second deck. The stadium, with a budgeted cost of $287 million, will be used for convocations, graduations, intramural sports and as a permanent home for the University of Minnesota Marching Band.
Game 689 | January 29 | Jesse Crain, Nick Punto
In conjunction with TwinsFest, the team's annual winter celebration at the Metrodome, two members of the 2007 team visited with Dunkers. Crain, a hard-throwing relief pitcher; joined the team in 2004 and missed most of the 2007 season after having rotator cuff surgery. Switch-hitting infielder Punta, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia for pitcher Eric Milton, had a poor hitting year in 2007, but came back to claim the starting shortstop position in 2008.
Game 690 | February 7 | Bernie Kukar
Born in Gilbert, Minnesota, Kukar was an NFL official from 1984-2005. He attended St. John's University, where he played college football under the legendary John Gagliardi, the all-time winningest football coach in history. He was promoted to referee at the start of the 1991 NFL season and worked both the 1999 and 2002 Super Bowls. His on-line biography says he was best-known for "his thick Minnesota accent."
Game 691 | February 15 | Tim Brewster
Virtually unknown to the media and Gopher fans, Brewster was the surprise selection of Athletic Director Joel Maturi to succeed Glen Mason. A former tight end at Illinois, Brewster had a solid career as an assistant to Mac Brown at North Carolina and Texas, Mike Shanahan at the Denver Broncos and Marty Schottenheimer at the San Diego Chargers. Highly recommended by these and other coaches, Brewster had a reputation for being one of the best recruiters in the country.
Game 692 | March 2 | John Anderson
Coach Anderson's baseball Gophers finished 41-18. They came in second in the Big Ten and lost to Fresno State in NCCA postseason play. He was joined at Dunkers by coaches from Mississippi, Arkansas and The Citadel.
Game 693 | March 27 | Ken Mauer
A second cousin of Twins baseball catcher, Joe Mauer, Ken has been an NBA official since the 1986-'87 season. A graduate of St. Paul Harding High School, he was an outstanding baseball player for the University of Minnesota, where he played second base next to All-American shortstop Paul Molitor.
Game 694 | April 10 | Michele Tafoya
A veteran of eight years with CBS and ESPN, Edina resident Tafoya talked about trying to achieve balance between her career and her role as a mother of two young children. Holder of an MBA from the University of Southern California, she said that someday she might want to return either to local radio or television and might explore something beyond the world of sports.
Game 695 | May 10 | Terry Ryan, Ron Gardenhire
The Twins finished third in the American League's Central Division with a 79-83 record. Johan Santana led the pitching staff with a 15-13 record, but the staff was hurt by the retirement of Brad Radke and season-ending Tommy John surgery on Francisco Liriano. Torii Hunter led the team in hitting with 28 home runs, 107 RBIs and a .287 batting average. For the third year in a row the season began with the death of an important figure in Twins history. Long-time announcer Herb Carneal died the day before opening day. In 2005 it was long-time stadium announcer Bob Casey who died, and it 2006 it was Hall of Fame center fielder Kirby Puckett. For Ryan it was to be the last of his many Dunkers appearances as the team's General Manager.
Game 696 | May 15 | Tim Herron
After winning three tournaments in his first four seasons on the PGA tour, Herron ended a seven-year winless period with a victory at the Honda Classic in 2006. He recalled playing in his home community in winning the 1993 Walker Cup at Interlachen. One of the game's longer hitters when he made the PGA tour, Herron talked about the changing technology and how far many of the younger players were able to hit the ball.
Game 697 | June 7 | Outdoor Baseball Preview
With construction getting underway for the 2010 opening of the Minnesota Twins new outdoor ballpark, the team gathered a team of experts to brief Dunkers on what to expect. Hennepin County Commissioners Mike Opat and Mark Stenglein talked about traffic and transportation considerations. Jerry Bell, long-time Dunker and head of Twins Sports Inc., talked about the long history of finding a plan that would be acceptable to the Minnesota Legislature, and Earl Santee of HOK Sport described the design and construction schedule.
Game 698 | June 27 | Lindsay Harding, Noelle Quinn
Named the college player of the year, Harding was drafted first in the first round by Phoenix and traded to the Minnesota Lynx for Tangela Smith. She started the first 20 games before tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and missing the remainder of the season. Also a guard, Quinn was taken by the Lynx with the fourth selection in the first round of the 2007 draft. She took over Harding's place in the starting lineup and finished the season ranked seventh in the league in assists.
Game 699 | July 16 | Brad Childress
The Vikings improved from 6-10 to 8-8 under second-year coach Childress, but failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year. Childress said he was excited about the drafting of Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson. His enthusiasm was rewarded as Peterson was named NFL Rookie Offensive Player of the Year. The defensive line, anchored by Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, was the best in the NFL against the run, but the offense struggled all year under the direction of second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
Game 700 | August 1 | Ben Crenshaw
One of professional golfs most popular players in the 1970s and '80s, Texas-born Crenshaw became only the second player in history to win the first event of his PGA career. Winner of both the 1984 and 1995 Masters, Crenshaw won a total of 19 times on the PGA tour from 1973-1995. He turned 50 in 2002 and was in town to compete in the 3M Championship, one of many top golfers to attend Dunkers in conjunction with that event.
Game 701 | August 20 | Tom Brunansky, Bert Blyleven
The Twins had a solid response to the weekend in which they recognized the 20th anniversary of the 1987 World Series Championship team. Right fielder Brunansky hit 32 home runs that year, and was one of three Twins (Kent Hrbek and Gary Gaetti) to hit more than 30. Blyleven's 15 victories that season were second best to Frank Viola, who had 17. Both players said the reunion wasn't the same without Kirby Puckett, who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2006.
Game 702 | August 28 | Tim Brewster
Making an unusual second appearance in the same year, the new Gopher football coach said he had high expectations despite dismissing four of his better players for off-season activities in which they had been charged with sexual assault. The team, trying to adjust to new offensive and defensive schemes, struggled to a 1-11 record in Brewster's first season as head coach.
Game 703 | September 13 | Bud Grant
The Minnesota Vikings in 2007 celebrated the 40th anniversary of Grant's being named their head coach. A Terry Fogarty lithograph was commissioned with proceeds going to the Vikings Children's Fund. Grant told Dunkers that there were a number of things in pro football he would change, including making it mandatory to return punts and kickoffs, making the point after touchdown more difficult and changing the number of points on a field goal to correspond to the distance of the kick.
Game 704 | September 25 | Glen Taylor
The Timberwolves had traded Kevin Garnett to Boston for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair and draft choices. Along with first-round draft choice Corey Brewer, the team would feature a new look for 2007-'08, and owner Taylor joined Dunkers to talk about the team's future and new direction. The team finished the season with a 22-60 record.
Game 705 | October 3 | Doug Risebrough, Bob Naegele
Playing strong defense in front of the solid goaltending of Niklas Backstrom, the Minnesota Wild won their first Northwest Division title in the 2007 -'08 season. Alternate goalie Manny Fernandez was traded to Boston, and Backstrom emerged as one of the better goalies in the league. Marian Gaborik, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brian Rolston and Pavol Dmitra were the team's leading scorers. This was owner Naegele's last Dunkers meeting, as he sold the team 15 months later.
Game 706 | October 24 | Don Lucia
Featuring a team made up entirely of players from the state of Minnesota, Lucia's team finished 9-12-7 in conference play and finished seventh in the WCHA. They lost to Boston College in the opening round of NCAA Tournament play. Blake Wheeler and Ben Gordon were the team's leading scorers.
Game 707 | November 8 | Pam Borton
Predicted to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten, Borton's young 2007-'08 Gopher basketball team finished with a 20-12 record and made it to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Texas in the opening round. Junior guard Emily Fox led the team in scoring, followed by Leslie Knight and Ashley Ellis-Milan.
Game 708 | November 12 | Tubby Smith
Gopher basketball fans were shocked when Athletic Director Joel Maturi announced he had hired Smith to take over the Gopher basketball program. Smith, one of the most successful and respected coaches in college basketball, left Kentucky to accept the Minnesota job. Named National Coach of the Year in 2003, Smith has coached at the college level for 17 seasons, and his teams won 20 or more games 15 times. In his first season at Minnesota his team, featuring mostly players he did not recruit, went from 8-22 in 2006-'07 to 20-13 under Smith. His 2008 recruiting class was ranked among the top 20 in the nation.
Game 709 | December 11 | Holiday Social Meeting
Once again, senior officials of all the professional teams as well as the University of Minnesota sports gave short updates on their challenges and opportunities in the coming year.