While Twins win in '87, Silver Bullets begin
LAKEFIELD -- In the spring of 1968, the Twin Cities rock band T.C. Atlantic played at Windom High School's prom. The band had one hit record that just creeped into the Top 40. The song was "Twenty Years ago in Speedy's Kitchen."
As a 16-year old, 20 years seemed like a long time.
But with the Major League baseball playoffs in full swing, 20 years seems like yesterday.
Flash back 20 years ago to the fall of 1987.
That's right, 1987 and the magical post-season run of the Minnesota Twins has already been 20 years ago!
It would have been 20 years ago this week that those '87 Twins won four-of-five games over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) and received an unbelievable welcome home celebration at the Metrodome. The following week, the Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals hooked up in the World Series -- the first time that the Twins had played in the Fall Classic since 1965.
Can you still name, the starting nine on that '87 team, position-by-position? Do you remember the two ace starting pitchers?
What about the bullpen's fiery "set up" man? Who was the closer? What about Minnesota's designated hitter (DH) that joined the team late in that memorable season?
While you are thinking about that -- what was happening on the area high school scene?
The fall of 1987 was the first year of a couple of pairings. Mountain Lake and Butterfield-Odin joined forces that year, and after 20 years, the two separate high schools are still a solidly-paired athletic program. The most notable Wolverine athletic successes came in football, baseball and boys' cross country in the early 1990s. More recently, ML/B-O softball and girls' cross country teams have competed at the state level.
So, here are a couple more questions: Before the pairing, what was Mountain Lake's nickname? What about B-O's?
For several seasons, the names switched around. That's right, the Wolverines were known as ML/B-O one year, then as B-O/ML the next.
After the third time as ML/B-O, the name stayed that way.
The two schools were paired in everything except volleyball for those first few years. The Butterfield-Odin volleyball team, however, had a different nickname than the previous B-O teams had used. What was the B-O volleyball team known as back in the late '80s and early '90s?
The other pairing that came about in the fall of 1987 was the full pairing of Heron Lake-Okabena High School with Lakefield High School.
It was the beginning of the 10-year run of the HLOL Silver Bullets.
The jobs that fall of uniting those former Scarlet Knight and Panther teams into one Silver Bullet team fell upon the experienced shoulders of Wayne Heisinger (HL-O) in football and Carolyn Hummel (Lakefield) in volleyball. Both programs flourished under the leadership of those two coaches during the next decade.
Guided by former Lakefield wrestling coach Randy Baker, the Silver Bullets also fielded excellent teams on the mat, including a third-place finish at the 1993 state meet. Individual champions Scott Vancura, Chad Gage, Tim Jansma and Chad Kraft highlighted the early years of HLOL wrestling success.
Heisinger's girls' track and field teams were an area powerhouse spring-after-spring, and after a state runner-up finish in the True Team competition in 1991, won the state championship in 1992.
The school started cross country in the fall of 1991 and quickly became one of the state's best boys' programs, earning back-to-back state meet runner-up finishes in 1992 and 1993. The HLOL girls' cross country team made a trip to the state meet in 1996.
The Silver Bullet girls' basketball program had six straight top two Red Rock Conference finishes from the '89-90 season through the '94-95 campaign, when they capped a 44-7 two-year run with a Section 3A runner-up finish.
HLOL also had highly-successful teams in boys' basketball, baseball, golf, softball and boys' track during its 10-year existence.
But how is it possible that it's been 20 years since the Silver Bullets began --- and 10 years since they were no more?
By the way, the answers to the previous questions:
Twins' starters: Tim Laudner, catcher; Kent Hrbek, first base, Steve Lombardozzi, second base; Greg Gagne, shortstop; Gary Gaetti, third base; Dan Gladden, left field; Kirby Pucket, center field; Tom Brunansky, right field.
Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven.
Juan "Senior Smoke" Berenguer.
That's just a brief look at the fall of 1987 --- "20 years ago in this writer's memory."