SEASON: 69 | YEAR: 2017

Game 873 | January 27, 2017 | Byron Buxton, Jason Castro, Marney Gellner
In conjunction with the annual TwinsFest celebration the team brought two of its newest players to Dunkers. Jason Castro was signed in the off-season to bolster the catching position. He worked well with the team’s young pitchers during the year and contributed at the plate with 10 homeruns, 47 RBIs and a .242 batting average. Buxton, a highly touted minor leaguer and former number one draft choice, went on to a breakout season. He won a Rawlings Gold Glove and was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year in Major League Baseball with his play in center field. He also hit 16 homeruns, drove in 51 runs and hit .253 while stealing a team-high 29 bases in 30 attempts. Marney Gellner from Fox Sports did the interviews.

(LtoR) Pete Kostroski, Marney Gellner, Jason Castro, Laura Day (physician), Byron Buxton

Game 874 | February 16, 2017 | P. J. Fleck
Gopher Athletics Director Mark Coyle introduced his new hire as Gopher football coach. Speaking with great energy and enthusiasm, Fleck talked about his career and his “Row the Boat” philosophy. The Gopher team, suffering from injuries and a lack of depth, finished 5-7 with two wins in Big Ten play. A highlight of the meeting came in an observation from a member, “I wear a hearing aid, and you’re the first speaker in years where I didn’t even need it!”

(LtoR) Dave Mona, P.J. Fleck, Mark Coyle (physician), Pete Kostroski

Game 875 | February 28, 2017 | Don Lucia
Coach Lucia was entering his 30th season as a college hockey head coach. He came to Minnesota for the 1999-00 season and coached his team to back-to-back National Championships in his third and fourth seasons with the Gophers. He is the longest tenured hockey coach in Gopher history. His 2016-17 team won the Big Ten Regular Season title for the fourth straight year

(LtoR) Pete Kostroski, Don Lucia, Randy Handel (physician)

Game 876 | March 20, 2017 | Scott Studwell, Ben Leber, Joe Schmit
The topic was the changing look of defenses in the National Football League, and Dunkers would be hard pressed to find two more qualified speakers. Studwell ranks second to legendary Dick Butkus in career tackles at Illinois. Thought to be too small to play in the National Football League, he lasted until the 9th round of the 1977 draft. He spent from 1977-1990 with the Minnesota Vikings and retired as the team’s all-time leading tackler with 1,981 career tackles. He is currently Director of Collegiate Scouting for the Vikings. Leber, a native of Vermillion, S.D., was drafted out of Kansas State by the San Diego Chargers. After two seasons with the Chargers he was signed by the Vikings and quickly became a starting linebacker for the next four seasons. He’s now a regular on KFAN radio in the Twin Cities. Dunker member and KSTP-TV sports director Joe Schmit did the interviews.

(LtoR) Scott Studwell, Joe Schmit, Bob Hagan (physician), Ben Leber, Dave Mona

Game 877 | March 30, 2017 | Rick Kaiser
Master Chief Retired Navy SEAL Kaiser captured the attention of Dunker members when he talked about the training and types of missions SEALS are asked to perform. In response to a question he said the most difficult part of the job for him was the time that he had to spend away from his family. He closed with an invitation to Dunkers to visit him at the National SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.

(LtoR) Pete Kostroski, Rick Kaiser, MGEN Rick Nash (physician)

Game 878 | April 20, 2017 | Paul Molitor, Derek Falvey
Molitor was entering the final year of his three-year contract and his first under new Chief Baseball Officer Falvey. The Twins were coming off a 103-loss season and were picked by baseball writers to finish last in the American League. Instead, the team made the American League playoffs, losing in the Wild Card game to the New York Yankees. The Twins became the first team ever to improve from more than 100 losses to a playoff spot. Molitor was named American League Manager of the Year, joining Frank Robinson as the only members of the Baseball Hall of Fame to ever win Manager of the Year honors.

(LtoR) Dave Mona, Paul Molitor, Derek Falvey, Dave St. Peter (physician), Pete Kostroski

Game 879 | May 2, 2017 | Rick Spielman
With the NFL draft just days earlier, Spielman talked about the challenges coming off an 8-8 season when more was expected from the Minnesota Vikings. Spielman mused because his first round choices this year were limited to the likes of Dunker members Dave Mona and Jerry Broeckert and former Viking Bob Lurtsema, so he said he went right to the second round. Without the first-round draft choice he used to acquire quarterback Sam Bradford, Spielman said the team had high expectations that running back Dalvin Cook could quickly replace the recently departed Adrian Peterson. Cook, after a great start, suffered a torn ACL in the fourth game of the season and missed the remainder of the year. Spielman, talking about free agent signings, said he was pleased to have signed quarterback Case Keenum, not knowing that Keenum would perform brilliantly after taking over for the injured Bradford early in the season.

(LtoR) Dave Mona, Rick Spielman, Lester Bagley (physician), Pete Kostroski

Game 880 | May 16, 2017 | Mike Veeck
Insisting that “baseball should be fun,” St. Paul Saints co-owner Veeck told stories of his long career in baseball. He shared the background on “Disco Demolition Night,” which caused the Chicago White Sox to forfeit a game and led to his banishment from Major League Baseball. He also talked about his partnership with co-owner and actor Bill Murray and some of the ideas they shared to keep fans entertained

(LtoR) Dave Mona, Mike Veeck, Bill Robertson (physician), Pete Kostroski

Game 881 | June 8, 2017 | Richard Pitino
Two months before his appearance at Dunkers, the Gopher basketball coach was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. The previous season featured a major turnaround for the Gophers who finished 24-10 and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament field. The previous year the team finished 8-23 and Pitino recalled that he appeared before Dunkers when his team had lost 11 straight games. Also at the June 8 meeting, Chris Wright was recognized for his work as our 2016 head coach and was presented a leather-bound book by Dave Mona that contains photo and summaries of all the games during his tenure as head coach.

(LtoR) Dave Mona, John Cunningham (physician), Richard Pitino, Pete Kostroski

(LtoR) Chris Wright, Dave Mona

Game 882 | June 16, 2017 | Mike Zimmer
The Vikings head coach talked about a nagging series of eye surgeries that had marked the off-season since his 2016 team finished 8-8. He focused on some roster decisions including parting ways with future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson. He said he had confidence that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would play again some day, but that he was comfortable heading into the season with Sam Bradford and the newly acquired backup Case Keenum.

(LtoR) Dave Mona, Mike Zimmer, Kevin Warren (physician), Pete Kostroski

Game 883| July 11, 2017 | The Referee Panel: Pat Fraher, NBA; Brian Mach, NHL;
Jeff Seeman, NFL; Casey Hankinson

Dunker Casey Hankinson moderated a panel consisting of NFL official Jeff Seeman, NHL official Brian Mach, and NBA referee Pat Fraher, all native Minnesotans. Mach talked about being on the road so much that on a rare trip home his son referred to him as “Uncle Brian.” Fraher said that players and coaches will test new officials, but are respectful of veterans. Seeman talked of making a controversial reception call in the most recent Super Bowl that was confirmed by several of the more than 100 cameras covering the game.

(LtoR): Joel Bergstrom (physician), Pete Kostroski, Jeff Seeman; NFL; Brian Mach, NHL; Pat Fraher, NBA;
Casey Hankinson (moderator); Dave Mona

Game 884 | Aug 3, 2017 | Hale Irwin
Here to play in the 3M Championship, Irwin talked about his career and also offered three tips to help most golfers. First, he said, most golfers are not aligned properly even though they think they are. “Most right-handers hit the ball short and to the right of the green. That’s why designers put the bunkers there.” Second, “It’s all about the tempo of your swing. Distance comes from tempo, not swing speed.” Finally, “You don’t use enough club. Just because you could hit a seven iron 160 yards when you were 25, you can’t do it anymore. Use one or two more clubs.”

(LtoR): Pete Kostroski, Dave Mona, Hale Irwin, Jennifer Hines (Dunker and 3M Tournament Director),
Tom Duffy (physician)

Game 885 | Aug 24, 2017 | Minnesotans in the NHL: Nick Bjugstad, Brock Nelson,
Anders Lee, Casey Hankinson

Casey Hankinson stepped up again as emcee to talk with Nick Bjugstad, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee. Bjugstad, named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey at Blaine, starred for the Gophers before joining the Florida Panthers. Nelson played at Warroad and North Dakota being drafted by the New York Islanders. Lee, his Islanders teammate, was Minnesota’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year at Edina before starring in hockey at Notre Dame.

(LtoR): Sam Sigelman (physician), Dave Mona, Pete Kostroski, Anders Lee, Nick Bjugstad, Brock Nelson,
Casey Hankinson (moderator)

Game 886 | Sep 5, 2017 | Chuck Fletcher, Bruce Boudreau, Kevin Gorg
Coming off a season in which the Minnesota Wild scored 106 points en route to a second-place finish in the West, expectations were high for the Wild. Fletcher said it was hard to believe he has been with the team since 2009 as General Manager. Boudreau, in his second year as head coach after a stint in Anaheim, said he was still smarting from the first-round playoff loss to St. Louis and looked forward to the start of the season with his mostly veteran team.

(LtoR): Pete Kostroski, Coach Bruce Boudreau, Chuck Fletcher, Jack Fiterman (physician),
Kevin Gorg (moderator), Dave Mona

Game 887 | Sep 8, 2017 | Jon Gruden
In the Twin Cities as part of the ESPN Monday Night Football crew, Gruden displayed his sharp analytic skills and sense of humor in talking about how he prepares to broadcast a game. He spoke about being the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl (Tampa Bay Bucs) and how much he enjoys working with emerging quarterbacks on the television show he helped develop, “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp.” He invited questions and didn’t dodge the first one that asked if he would sign controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick if he were an NFL General Manager? “No,” he said, “and it has nothing to do about the National Anthem or respect for the flag. He’s just not good enough. He was good for awhile until everyone figured him out, but I wouldn’t sign him and I doubt anyone else will.” Gruden was also asked if he thought he would one day return to coaching. Without missing a beat and much to the surprise of Dunkers members that he would give the answer he did, he said he would. In January he would sign a 10-year, $100 million contract to rejoin the Oakland Raiders.

(LtoR): Pete Kostroski, Bob Hagen (physician), Jon Gruden, Dave Mona

Game 888 | Nov 6, 2017 | Tom Thibodeau, Ethan Casson, Alan Horton
The Minnesota Timberwolves had a major makeover from the previous season, trading Ricky Rubio, Zach Levine and Kris Dunn while adding Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Thibodeau outlined Butler’s career in Chicago with the Bulls as he developed into an all-star excelling offensively and defensively. Thibodeau said he thought the addition of the veterans would bring out the talents of young stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Team CEO Casson talked about the lessons learned from a pre-season trip to China and the global marketing reach of the National Basketball Association. Team play-by-play announcer Alan Horton did the interviews.

(LtoR): Dave Mona, Pete Kostroski, Ethan Casson, Tom Thibodeau, Phil Soran (physician)

Game 889 | Nov 20, 2017 | Agents vs Management: Rob Brzezinski, Brian Murphy,
Blake Baratz, Janel Klein

Dunker Janel Klein moderated a panel consisting of Minnesota Vikings EVP Football Operations Rob Brzezinski and agents Brian Murphy and Blake Baratz. The three, all friends, talked about the various services agents provide for athletes and how many things they do beyond negotiating contracts. Brzezinski said the team and agents speak frequently on a variety of subjects to create success for players both on and off the field.

(LtoR): Pete Kostroski, Janel Klein (moderator), Brian Murphy, Rob Brzezinski, Blake Baratz,
Blake Hoffarber (physician) Dave Mona

Annual Meeting - 2017 | Dec 5, 2017 | Dave Mona, Sid Hartman
Each year Sid and Dave conduct a lightning-round of interviews with some of the highest profile members of the Minnesota sports community. Guests this year included Twins President Dave St. Peter and General Manager Thad Levine, Gopher Athletics Director Mark Coyle, Volleyball Coach Hugh McCutcheon and Soccer Coach Stephanie Golan, Wild AGM Andrew Brunette, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, WNBA Champion Lynx Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota United General Manager Manny Lagos, WCHA Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson and Timberwolves /Lynx CEO Ethan Casson.