Memories of the Worthington Gym in the “hopper,” pro football championships recalledWORTHINGTON — For more than three weeks, I have been attempting to put together a “blast” about the Worthington Gym. The facility is nearly 50 years old now and the storied place has held so many great high school athletic events over the past five decades.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — For more than three weeks, I have been attempting to put together a “blast” about the Worthington Gym. The facility is nearly 50 years old now and the storied place has held so many great high school athletic events over the past five decades.
There have been many tremendous basketball games played in the WHS gym, which was also the scene for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)’s national wrestling meet for more than a decade.
A big part of the atmosphere at the big basketball games —District 7 and District 8 tournament games, along with high-powered season match-ups like Worthington vs. Luverne and Worthington vs. Windom — was the booming and crystal-clear voice of public address announcer Al Swanson.
I spoke with Al last week and he will be mentioned and quoted in the feature when I get it finished. I am still doing researching and making phone calls — and I aim to have the story done for next week.
If anyone has a special memory about a game or event that took place at the Worthington Gym, contact me this week at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 507-793-2723 or 507-822-2053.
Pro Football Championships
Sunday’s Super Bowl victory by the New York Giants is being ranked by many football experts at the second biggest Super Bowl upset of all-time. The New York Jets stunning 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III (January, 1969) after the 1968 season still ranks No. 1.
That Jets’ victory, engineered by brash (full of confidence) quarterback Joe Namath, brought the AFL on par with the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs’ 23-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings the next year locked that concept in place and the leagues merged into one to start the 1970 season.
Before the Jets’ victory, the NFL Green Bay Packers had dominated the first two Super Bowls over the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, respectively.
Speaking of the old American Football League (AFL), can you name the original eight teams that played in the fall of 1960? Do you remember the long-time sports announcer (from Wyoming) who did most of those AFL broadcasts on television? Who won the first AFL championship after that 1960 season?
While, I remember the Packers winning those first two inter-league playoffs — the Super Bowl — and I sure remember the Jets’ upset of the Colts and Chiefs upset of the Vikings, I most remember the Colts 23-17 overtime victory over the Giants in the 1958 NFL championship game at Yankee Stadium in late December of 1958. That game is still dubbed “the greatest game ever played” and remains the only NFL championship game to go into overtime.
Who won the NFL championship the year before the Colts won it in 1958?
Who won the NFL championship in 1960 and who was the bruising player on that team that played both ways — offensive center and defensive middle linebacker? Can you name the quarterback and two of the top receivers on that team?
And finally, who were Arnie Herber and Don Hutson? And which area player was on the same team with them?
Okay, here are the answers to the questions posed in the preceding section.
The eight AFL teams were: Eastern Division — New York Titans, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Houston Oilers; Western Division — Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders. Of course, the New York Titans became the New York Jets, the Boston Patriots became the New England Patriots, the LA Chargers became the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Texans became the? ... Kansas City Chiefs.
Curt Gowdy was the fabled AFL announcer. The Oilers beat the Chargers in the first AFL title game, 24-16.
The Detroit Lions last won the championship in 1957, winning the NFL title with a 59-14 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns.
The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Green Bay Packers, 17-13, to win their last NFL championship in 1960. Chuck Bednarek played center and linebacker. Norm Van Brocklin, who coached the Minnesota Vikings the next season, was the Eagle quarterback and his two favorite targets were little Tommy McDonald (from Oklahoma) and rugged Pete Retzlaff (from South Dakota State).
Arnie Herber was the quarterback and Don Hutson was the Hall-of-Fame receiver for the Green Bay Packers in the 1930s and 1940s. Windom’s Larry Buhler, after starring for University of Minnesota, played briefly in the NFL with those Packer teams, led by Herber and Hutson.