BLAST FROM THE PAST: What else was happening while ‘man took first steps on moon’?WINDOM — It amazed me when it happened.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WINDOM — It amazed me when it happened.
It amazed me that we watched it happen live on television.
It somewhat amazes me that after six successful missions, it has not happened since.
But, to me, the most amazing thing is that it now has been 40 years since it happened!
So what happened?
On Sunday, July 20, 1969, Apollo 11’s lunar module — the Eagle — touched down on the Sea of Tranquility on the surface of the moon. A few hours later, U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walked and “bounced” around — while millions of people watched them on television.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” said Armstrong in what has become, perhaps, the most famous quote in world history.
So, while that was happening — what else was going on?
Neil Diamond was climbing the pop music charts with “Sweet Caroline” — which has remained a classic — and “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies was keeping “bubble gum music” alive and well.
The Minnesota Twins, managed by Billy Martin, were leading the newly-formed American League West by four games (over Oakland) with a formidable 59-37 (.615) record.
Meanwhile, Baltimore had the best record in the Major Leagues, leading the AL East with a sparkling 65-31 (.677) mark, holding an 11-game lead.
The Chicago Cubs (60-37, .619) were in first place in the National League East, while the Atlanta Braves (56-42, .571) were in the lead in the NL West.
The Braves, who had just moved from Milwaukee three seasons before that, must have been placed in the West, based on their previous location?
The Minnesota Vikings were set to open training camp the next day.
“Vikings open Mankato camp for new season tonight” ran a headline in the Daily Globe on Monday, July 21, 1969.
“We will be building from strength this year, not from weakness,” said third-year head coach Bud Grant. “We will be better because we will improve from within our present squad.”
Paced by their fearsome defensive front four — Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, Alan Page and Jim Marshall — the Vikings did improve on their 8-6 record of 1968, as they went 12-2 in ’69 and later won the NFL championship.
That was, of course, before the merger with the AFL, and the Vikings were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV — the first of four such defeats for Minnesota during an eight-year stretch.
Remember that? The Vikings made it to the Super Bowl four times in eight years — after the 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1976 seasons, making it three years out of four in the mid ‘70s.
So, here’s two questions.
I mentioned that the Chiefs beat the Vikes in 1970 (the Super Bowl is always played in the year following the championship season), who beat Minnesota in 1974, 1975 and 1977?
Fran Tarkenton was the Viking quarterback in Super Bowls VIII, IX and XI. But who quarterbacked Minnesota in Super Bowl IV?
Here’s another question, which three Minnesota Twins played in the 1969 All-Star Game, which was played on Tuesday, July 22 — two days after Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon?
On the day of the walk, Jim Perry pitched a complete-game, nine-hit shutout over the Seattle Pilots, as the Twins won 4-0.
Earlier the same day, Perry — who improved to 11-4 with the shutout — had finished a suspended game and picked up the win in that one too, as the Twins won 11-7.
Bert Blyleven must have loved Jim Perry!
Who was the Twins shortstop when Apollo 11 touched down?
Here was the Twins batting order and line-up for that “moon walk” game against the Pilots:
Ted Uhlander, CF; Rod Carew, 2B; Harmon Killebrew, 3B; Rich Reese, 1B: Charlie Manuel, LF; Cesar Tovar, RF; George Mitterwald, C; Leo Cardenas, SS and Perry.
Frank Quilici, who would later manage the Twins, also saw action at both second base and third base that day.
Okay, the answers to the earlier questions:
The Miami Dolphins beat the Vikings in 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers did the same in 1975 and the Oakland Raiders — coached by John Madden — did the trick in 1977.
Joe Kapp, from Canada, was Minnesota’s quarterback in the 1969 season and dueled against Kansas City’s Len Dawson during Super Bowl IV in January of 1970.
Despite his 11-4 record, Jim Perry did not pitch in the All-Star game. The three Twins were — Carew, Killebrew and catcher John Roseboro.
The other question — you should have caught it — Leo Cardenas was the Twins shortstop in 1969.
St. James defeats Cubs, 5-2; Nickel, Suby drive in runs for Worthington
While the Twins were leading the AL West and Apollo 11 was catching all the major headlines, “Family Night” was being held at Buss Field in Worthington.
While Armstrong was stepping down from the lunar excursion module (LEM), a large crowd was watching St. James claim a 5-2 victory over the Worthington Cubs in First Night League amateur baseball action.
Here was the batting order and line-up for the Cubs:
Wayne Klumper, CF; Terry Nickel, SS; Tom Waller, 2B; Marlin Kuhl, 3B; Tom Von Holtum, LF-P; Ken Hamman, LF; Mike Gillespie, 1B-P; Paul Suby, RF; Doug Keith, C; Tom Melcher, C; and Gary Sonju, starting pitcher. Mike Simpson also played in left field and Doug Regnier had an at-bat.
Suby had a pair of hits and an RBI for Worthington, while Von Holtum, Waller and Nickel (RBI double) also had hits for the Cubs.
Suby drove in Von Holtum in the second inning and Nickel’s double plated Klumper (two-out walk) in the eighth.
Von Holtum, who pitched the middle part of the game, singled in the second and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gillespie, who also pitched for the Cubs.
Pat Baumgartner hits three home runs — in one game for Wilmont
Meanwhile, in the Gopher League, Wilmont’s Pat Baumgartner had a day to remember — hitting three home runs in four trips to the plate, leading the Cardinals to a 12-9 victory over Slayton.
John Timms (3-for-5) also hit a home run for Wilmont, and Ray Team (3-for-5, double), Jim Broich (2-for-3), Ray Brake (double) and Bob Baumgartner (double, winning pitcher) also helped Wilmont win.
Dan Ohme hit a home run and Doug Busch was 2-for-3 for Slayton.
Steve Bassett (2-for-2) and Lowell Bruns (2-for-3) paced Rushmore to an 8-7 win over Woodstock, which was led by Rich Smidt (3-for-5, triple).
Holland’s Rollie Heidebrink went 3-for-5 and was the winning pitcher in a 7-6 win over Adrian, paced by Gene Taylor (3-for-5, double).
Think about this?
There were many other local highlights from the days of Apollo 11, as local VFW and Legion baseball games were getting started.
But as space is getting short — I want to end this column with this thought.
When Apollo 11 was doing its thing, I had just turned 18 and was strong for my size. My summer job was stacking hay bales — sometimes on the rack and sometimes in the barn. I preferred being outside on the rack.
Anyway, I was usually paid either $1.25 or $1.50 per hour.
Not much. Right?
Well consider this. In July of 1969, gas was 29 cents a gallon and you could buy a brand new pair of basketball shoes at Tempo for $2.44.
So, if I worked for four hours at $1.50, I would earn $6 and could buy 10 gallons of gas and a new pair of basketball shoes — and have money left for three hamburgers at the Pine Inn in Windom.
Let’s assume I could make $8 an hour now stacking bales. How many hours would I have to work to buy 10 gallons of gas, new basketball shoes and three hamburgers?
Think about it — 40 years ago, we could go to the moon and people could buy more, much more, for their money than they can now.
No wonder lots of folks would like to “blast back” to the “good old days.”
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