Game 908 | January 25, 2019 | Rocco Baldelli, Cory Provus
The new Twins manager said he interviewed with five teams before accepting the Twins offer. With the off-season moves the team has made he said he was confident the team would have substantially more power from the bats of Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop. He was right. In his first year as manager the team won the American League Central Division and hit a major-league record 307 homers.
Game 909 | February 19, 2019 | Richard Pitino
Well into his sixth season as coach of the Gopher men’s basketball team, Pitino talked about his three recruits, all Minnesotans, and predicted that center Daniel Oturu would play one day in the NBA. The team finished with a 22-14 record and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, the finals of which were held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Game 910 | March 7, 2019 | TCO Performance Center
The Dunkers were the first outside group to tour the facility that was built on the 200 acres that once served as the corporate home of Northwest Airlines. Plans include a Vikings Hall of Fame, a Four-Star hotel and 1,000 multiple-family housing units as well as a football field capable of hosting high-profile high school sports events.
Game 911 | April 4, 2019 | Jim Nantz
The veteran CBS broadcaster came to Minnesota a day early to speak to Dunkers in advance of the Final Four weekend. He said he dreamed about broadcasting major golf events even in college when his roommate was future golf great Fred Couples. Nantz said he was looking forward to Sid Hartman’s 100th birthday in 2020 and said he was both honored and humbled to be the only voice of the Masters, the Super Bowl and the Final Four in a single season.
Game 912 | May 2, 2019 | Rick Spielman
In his 14th season with the Vikings, the team’s general manager shared an overview of the previous week’s NFL draft. He said 95 different Viking employees played a role in draft preparations and that the team’s player database included some 8,180 names. He said the team knew it needed to improve its offensive line and was thrilled that center Garrett Bradbury was available with the 18th selection in the first round. Bradbury became an immediate starter.
Game 913 | May 14, 2019 | Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Cory Provus
The Twins baseball leaders agreed that the long-term plan for winning teams had to come from building a strong minor league feeder system rather than free agency. Falvey said the Twins’ farm system was currently ranked 5th or 6th among all teams. Levine said the team had offered long-term deals to a number of young players and that they were thrilled that Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler had accepted. Falvey said that some form of a salary cap might be part of the next round of negotiations on a Collective Bargaining Agreement with players.
Game 914 | June 7, 2019 | Mike Zimmer
Coach Zimmer was introduced by Kevin Warren just days after Warren had been selected to be the next Big Ten Commissioner. Zimmer joked that Minneapolis had a lot of work to do to get its streets ready for the Super Bowl parade. He said a highlight of the off-season was the hiring of NFL veteran coach Gary Kubiak to work as a mentor to new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. (At the end of season Stefanski was hired as head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Kubiak was elevated to Offensive Coordinator.) Zimmer said two players who were poised for breakout seasons were defensive end Danielle Hunter and running back Dalvin Cook.
Game 915 | June 25, 2019 | Tour Allianz Field
For the first time in Dunker history the group made its second road trip in a season. Allianz Field had just opened in the St. Paul Midway area to very positive reviews. Team President Chris Wright said that Minnesota United represented a $350 million investment by local ownership led by Bill McGuire. The team quickly sold 14,500 season tickets with a waiting list of 5,000. Some 62 percent of fans were between 18-35, by far the youngest demographics of any other local professional team. Loons play-by-play broadcaster Cal Williams interviewed Sporting Director Manny Lagos and goaltender Vito Mannone before Dunker members took a tour of the new facility,
Game 916 | July 2, 2019 | 3M Open: Tom Lehman, Viktor Hovland, John Harris
Just a day before the start of the 3M Tournament, Lehman recalled that he appeared at Dunkers in 1996 and won the British Open just 23 days later. Hovland, a 21-year-old Oslo, Norway, native, had just won the U.S. Amateur and was new to the pro tour. Lehman, asked for this favorite golf story, told of the time he was paired with his wife in a mixed doubles event. On the first hole he hit a 285-yard drive down the middle, She shanked the next shot into the right rough. He hit a shot onto the green just 15 feet from the hole on the par 5, her putt rolled 20 feet past the pin and he made the par putt coming back. En route to the second hole he commented that they were going to need to step up their game. “I don’t know why you’re mad at me,” she said. “I only had two shots on that hole and you took three.”
Game 917 | July 16, 2019 | Joe Mauer, Joe Schmit
Halfway through his first year as a retired Twin, Mauer made his third Dunkers’ appearance. He said he told new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli that he was just across the river and would be happy to help anytime he was needed. He said that Justin Morneau was his favorite teammate and that his biggest thrill was catching the Twins 2004 opener with Brad Radke, his high school hero, pitching for the Twins. Mauer went on to win three American League batting titles, play in six All-Star games and win three Gold Gloves.
Game 918 | July 29, 2019 | P.J. Fleck
Pacing continuously and speaking without the need of a microphone, the Gopher football coach said his program was built around teaching the team how to win. “Up to 80% of football teaching turns out to be about trying not to lose. We don’t believe in that.” He said he was very pleased with the way the previous season had ended with victories at Wisconsin and in a bowl game against Georgia Tech. Still, pre-season polls showed the Gophers 12th among 14 Big Ten teams and sixth among the seven Big Ten West teams. “I keep telling the team that respect needs to be earned,” he said. The team finished 11-2, defeated favored Auburn in the Outback Bowl and was ranked 10th in the nation for the season.
Game 919 | August 20, 2019 | Steve Rushin
The Bloomington native, Sports Illustrated columnist and Met Center popcorn vendor was here to promote the release of his new book. “Nights in White Castle.” He told of the rumor that one of his new neighbors was former Gopher basketball great and future NBA Coach Flip Saunders. The house featured a nice basketball court. He and his friends got up the nerve to ring the doorbell to ask if “Flip Saunders lived there and if he’d like to come out and play?” Over the next few summers that turned into a backyard tournament called the Saunders Hoops Invitational Tournament. (SHIT.) He subsequently wrote a letter promoting the tournament to Sports Illustrated that ultimately led to his first assignment en route to a career that saw him named National “Sportswriter of the Year.”
Game 920 | September 24, 2019 | Kirk Cousins, Mark Rosen
Early in is second season as the Vikings quarterback, Cousins spoke at the first ever meeting of the Dunkers at Minikahda Country Club. He recalled meeting Viking communications director and former Dunkers Head Coach Bob Hagan on his first visit to Minnesota. “How was your dinner at Murray’s last night,” Hagan asked. “The food was great, but it was a little pricey,” said the man who had just signed a three-year guaranteed $84 million contract. He extolled the virtues of many teammates by name…with high praise for his receiving corps. “One thing you quickly learn about Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph is that they are all wide open on every play.”
Game 921 | October 1, 2019 | Bill Guerin, Anthony LaPanta
Guerin spent 18 seasons as a player in the National Hokey League and his teams made the playoffs 15 times. He said he was disappointed a year earlier when he finished second to Paul Fenton as Wild General Manager, but was delighted to have another shot at the job. “They asked me why I wanted this job,” he recalled, “and I said the first thing that came into my head, “Who wouldn’t want this job?’” He said that he was not discouraged that he was hired late in the process, but that he could promise that future Wild teams would be more abrasive and more physical.
Game 922 | October 16, 2019 | Joan Gabel
She became the 17th president of the University of Minnesota on July 1. She joked that among the first pieces of advice she got from outgoing president Eric Kaler was that she needed to speak to Dunkers. She said that she had been exposed to a high level of collegiate sport in her role as Provost at the University of South Carolina and as head of the Business School at the University of Missouri. “I buy into the notion of sports being the front porch of the university,” she said. She said that she was very impressed with Mark Coyle and his staff as well as both the academic and athletic records of the 25 U of M teams. “You’ll see us at a lot of events,” she said. “My husband and I are big sports fans.”
Game 923 | November 14, 2019 | Bob Motzko, Casey Hankinson
The Austin, Minn., native said that he wanted to be a Gopher from the time he learned to skate. He tried to make it twice as a walk-on player for the Gophers before transferring to St. Cloud State where he first served as an assistant to Herb Brooks. He went on to build a nationally ranked team at St. Cloud State, but was ready when the call came from Mark Coyle after last season. “I loved it at St. Cloud State,” he said, “but I made it clear that the only place I would leave for was the University of Minnesota.” He said the Gopher might start slowly this year with 19 freshmen and sophomores, but that the team should come together in the second half of the season. He said to not be surprised if Illinois was soon ready to join the Big Ten hockey conference.
Game 924 | November 21, 2019 | Ryan Saunders, Jim "Pete" Petersen
At 33, Ryan is the youngest coach in the National Basketball Association. He served as an assistant for five years to Randy Wittman at Washington and six years as an assistant to his father, Flip, and Tom Thibodeau with the Timberwolves. Peterson, the team’s color commentator and an NBA veteran, said Saunders was a “preparation hound” who was extremely popular with the players. Ryan said he had his own playbook, but was happy to work with the team in running one of his late father’s offensive sets on the opening offensive play of his first game as Timberwolves coach.
Annual Meeting | December 10, 2019 | Dave Mona and Sid Hartman
and Twin Cities Sports Leaders
Dave said that plans were progressing nicely at WCCO Radio for the “Sidtennial,” marking Sid’s 100th birthday on Sunday, March 15, 2020. He promised a huge array of famous guests from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day. For the annual meeting the 39-year Sports Huddle hosts conducted five-minute interviews with leaders of the local sports community. Guests included Twins President Dave St. Peter; Minnesota Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve; Minnesota Wild exec and former North Star favorite Mike Modano; Minnesota High School League Executive Director Erich Martens; long-time Vikings scout and former linebacker Scott Studwell; Minnesota United’s Sporting Director Manny Lagos; U of M Athletics Director Mark Coyle; St. Thomas Athletics Director Phil Esten; Timberwolves and Lynx President Ethan Casson, and WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson.