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Blast from the Past: Area sporting events on Brian Korthals' birthday remembered

Area sporting events on Brian Korthals' birthday remembered...

Area sporting events                                                                                                                                                                                           on Brian Korthals’                                                                                                                                                                        birthday remembered

WORTHINGTON --- In mid-May of 1959, Milwaukee Braves’ slugger Hank Aaron was hitting at an exceptional .484 clip, as he was riding a 21-game hitting streak and had already “hammered” 11 home runs for the two-time defending National League champions.

Minnesota’s state senate by a 40-24 vote had approved permanent DST (daylight saving time) for future summers, starting each year on the fourth Sunday of May and ending on the day after Labor Day. (How that time frame has lengthened over the years). The measure still had to pass the House and needed to be signed into law by Governor Orville Freeman.

Locally, the Worthington High School’s Gary Kallsen --- after receiving a first-round bye --- defeated John Rude of St. James and Jerry Roth of Mankato to win the Region 2 singles tennis title. That same week, lefty Del Buntjer twirled a complete game as the Trojans defeated Slayton, 9-6, in the final Big Six Conference game of the spring season.

Area radio stations were playing “Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton as the country cross-over hit was climbing the charts and would become Billboard’s top rock song by the end of the month.

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May 15, 1959 was a Friday and Fritz and Roberta “Bobbie” Korthals became the proud parents of a baby son, they named Brian.                  

After being baptized at the American Reformed Church in Worthington, Brian grew up and went to school in Worthington, graduating with the Class of 1977. A young man with diversified interests, Brian studied sales and marketing at Jackson Vocational School and on April 17, 1982, he married Lorraine Bennett, who had been his sweetheart since junior high.

Like his grandfather, Alfred Pedersen, Brian enjoyed searching for Native American artifacts and created quite a collection. Along with his passion for history, he acquired a fondness for golf courses, assisting in the development of Prairie View and working there as a greens keeper, something he did later at the Worthington Country Club.             

Brian had already accomplished a lot before I knew him, but there was more to come for the talented family man with a friendly smile and strong sense of loyalty.   

Brian Korthals began working as a photographer for the Daily Globe in 1989, and he took pictures at many sporting events. He was good, very good. Brian had his ideas of how he wanted his photographs posed, but he was open to the inclinations of a coach, too. Over the years, I developed a great amount of respect and admiration for Brian in his role as a sports photographer for the Globe.

In the fall of 2004, I began writing sports stories --- part-time --- for the paper and became a colleague of Brian’s, getting to know him better. We went on several trips together, covering sectional and state events. I enjoyed those times with Brian, including visiting with him on the way home from Chaska after a state-tournament baseball game in June of 2013, shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Brian was upbeat and positive about his situation and was determined to make the most of things as he continued taking those award-winning pictures for the Globe. By September of 2015, Brian’s condition was less favorable and he --- after 26 years of loyal service --- was not on the scene, covering the events of Worthington’s King Turkey Day Celebration.

It was different, not seeing Brian at the area cross country meets that year --- or at any of the sporting events after his early retirement. I heard many times, over the past two years, that Brian was doing OK  and then --- like so many others --- was saddened to learn that he had passed away on March 25, 23 days before his 35th wedding anniversary and 51 days prior to his 58th birthday.

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Brian is missed so much by his many friends and close-knit family, including his parents, wife Lorraine, daughters Sarah and Marin, sisters Lisa and Kim, and his very special granddaughter Alice Lorraine Micek, whom he had developed a very special bond with. He was indeed, a very caring, diversified and talented man.

In honor of Brian’s birthday, I searched through back issues of the Daily Globe and have come up with a few highlights from the time of his birth (1959) and from the spring when he turned 18 (1977) and was nearing high school graduation.

Three small towns win 1959 district baseball titles

Among the interesting things about the spring of 1959 was the fact that three small towns --- Ceylon (District 5), Storden (District 7) and Ellsworth (District 8) --- won high school baseball district crowns and joined big-school Mankato (District 6) for the Region 2 tournament played in Lakefield.

While “Bell, Book and Candle,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak was showing at Worthington’s downtown State Theatre, the Ellsworth Panthers were posting low-scoring wins over Slayton (3-1) and Worthington (3-0) to advance to the District 8 finals against a group of Edgerton Flying Dutchmen, who 10 month later would win their much-celebrated one-class state basketball championship.

Ellsworth’s only loss in the ’59 baseball season had been to Edgerton. The championship game pitted a pair of the area’s best pitchers as Edgerton’s Barney Van Essen squared off against Ellsworth’s Jerry Matthiesen. In the expected pitcher’s duel, the Dutchmen held a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

With two runners on base and two outs, Ellsworth’s Larry Boomgaarden delivered a big hit, driving in Vince Mulder with the tying run, while Panther Harold Lenderts scored the winning run on an Edgerton throwing error.

Advancing to the regional, the Panthers were defeated 10-6 by the Storden Tigers, who had won District 7 with a 9-5 semifinal win over Okabena and a 4-2 championship game victory over Mountain Lake.

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Mankato blanked Ceylon in the other Region 2 semifinal game, 8-0, and advanced to the state tournament with a victory over Storden in the title game.

A few other events from the spring of ’59 included Windom’s John Hoffman (74), Luverne’s Larry Rapp (76) and Worthington’s Paul Sanderson (78) finishing 1-2-3 in the five-team Southwest Conference golf meet; Magnolia’s Lloyd Voss (future football star at Nebraska) placing second in the state in the discus, while Windom’s Jerry Flaming (880-yard run) and Delano Jones (pole vault) also placed second; and University of Minnesota football coach Murray Warmath giving the key note address at Worthington’s 13th annual all-sports banquet, sponsored by the VFW club.

There were many more interesting things from the spring of 1959 that I came across in my research.

Zinnel and Brandl run  sizzling two-mile times in 1977, Trojans play in first girls’ golf state meet

When Brian became 18, classmate Rick Brandl was burning up the cinders with sensational times in the two-mile run, as was Slayton junior Mark Zinnel.

In June, at the state meet at St. Cloud Apollo, Zinnel took the lead on the second lap and capped his stellar season with a Class A state gold medal, running eight laps in 9:24. Brandl, competing in Class AA, ran even faster, clipping a fifth-place time of 9:17.

There were several other state-meet placing performances from area athletes that year, including Brewster senior Brad Altman’s second-place leap of 21-10 in the Class A boys’ long jump.

Look for more details on Worthington’s Joe Vortherms and Jan Nasers, along with relay teams --- both girls and boys --- from Slayton in a future edition of the “Blast From the Past.” A relay team from Southwest Christian, along with individuals from Edgerton, Slayton, Jasper, Southwest Christian and Lakefield at the 1977 state track and field meet, will also be highlighted.

After winning the regional golf title at Fairmont, Worthington sophomore Becky Wulf received the unique honor of being the first girl --- ever --- to tee off at a high school state golf meet when the Trojans participated in the inaugural MSHSL sponsored event at the Forest Hills Golf Course near Forest Lake on June 9, 1977.

Cheryl Peterson’s 36-hole total of 196 was Worthington’s best over the two days, followed by Robin Delperdang’s 206. Wulf and Janell Jensen also competed at Forest Hills, while Carol Barkuloo, Teresa Basche, Tammy Shirkey and Kim Morrison had also played varsity golf for Trojan head girls’ coach Leon Schimbeno that spring.

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