The iconic Sid Hartman hit a home run with the overflow crowd at the M.V.P. (Men.Value.Purpose.) banquet at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater on March 5.
Hartman is the legendary sportswriter of the Minneapolis Tribune and WCCO radio personality.
Those in attendance feasted on fine Italian cuisine prepared by local sports enthusiast Lynn Most, the former owner of Vittorio’s. Sid was a regular there during Most’s ownership from 1992-2001.
M.V.P. wouldn’t have enjoyed Hartman’s visit if it wasn’t for longtime Tribune senior sportswriter and assistant sports editor Dennis Brackin, who acted as chauffeur and straight man for his sage friend.
Before I go any further, let me say that at age 93 Hartman qualifies as a true sportsman with a remarkable memory and keen sense of detail. After 18-plus lustrums, this guy is still going strong and admits that he truly loves his job.
A brisk question-and-answer session was the highlight of the evening, covering the gamut of national topics in general and Minnesota in particular.
Sid sees the Gopher gridders winning eight or nine games if coach Jerry Kill says healthy.
Hartman likes what he sees with Tubby Smith, but predicted the ambush at Lincoln because it was the last game to be played at the Bob Devaney Sports Arena and the Cornhuskers would be pumped. You guessed it, Nebraska over his beloved Gophers 53-51.
When asked about who he perceived as the top coaches in the nation, he quickly shot back his close personal friend Bud Grant — probably the best coach and greatest prankster ever — Bobby Knight, Billy Martin and Lou Holtz. These men were intelligent and produced disciplined teams.
Sid has never forgotten Grant placing three dead crows in the trunk of his new car.
Sid talked about his early days with the Minneapolis Lakers and, in his opinion, the greatest basketball player ever, George Mikan. The Lakers today are the most valued franchise in sports and it all started in Minnesota.
We learned that the Timberwolves are adrift at sea, the Vikings are on the right track, Ron Gardenhire and Pam Borton still have a ways to go and if Holtz would have been offered the AD position he would still be coaching the Gophers football team.
He also predicted — a week before it happened — that Percy Harvin was unhappy and not long for the Vikings.
You have to respect Sid for his energy and being up to date on things going on in sports. He rarely, if ever, takes a vacation and manages to visit the U of M every day while maintaining a Spartan daily schedule.
In closing, Hartman said that he loves his job and looks forward to each day with enthusiasm. That prompted emcee Dave Junker to ask the group: “If you feel the same thing every day when you go to work, raise your hand.”
I didn’t see any hands.
At that point, Sid and Dennis got a standing ovation and, for an instant, I thought that I heard the church bells ring when the group sang happy birthday (it’s March 15) to Sid.
Former Ponies honored
Collegiate honors were awarded to former Ponies Alex Oman, a junior basketball player at UW-Stout, and Allison Eder-Zdechlik, a freshman hockey player at Gustavus Adolphus. Both hail from Lake Elmo.
Oman made the All-WIAC Team after averaging 14.5 points per game for the Blue Devils. In addition to being an offensive weapon, Oman led the team in steals this season with 43 thefts. This kid still has a year left!
Eder-Zdechlik played a prominent role for the 27-0-1 Gusties and was named to the All-MIAC Rookie Team. Gustavus has won 10 consecutive MIAC titles and is ranked second in the nation behind Plattsburgh (N.Y.).
Eder-Zdechlik, who helped lead the Ponies to a state softball championship last spring, led all MIAC freshman in scoring after racking up 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points. After maintaining a +19 plus-minus rating, she also received honorable mention All-MIAC recognition.
Ex-Pony Amanda Cartony has been a solid contributor for the St. Peter school as well. Cartony was named the MIAC Women’s Hockey Athlete of the Week following victories in the MIAC playoffs — despite not recording a single point. Cartony, who led all Gusties defenders in minutes played and plus-minus rating (+3), has collected two goals and six assists through 26 games this season.
Another former Pony Kristin Skoog contributed to the University of Minnesota club hockey team that just captured the ACHA Women’s National Championship in Ashburn, Va. The Gophers defeated Liberty University 2-0 in the title game. Skoog, a defenseman, was named to the All-Tournament First Team.
In the huddle
We are sorry to see the passing of former Ponies football player and St. Paul police officer Josh Lynaugh ’01. Lynaugh suffered a heart attack on Feb. 8 while involved in a foot pursuit of a suspect. In the hospital, it was discovered Lynaugh had a heart condition that claimed his life on Feb. 16. Lynaugh was a junior offensive tackle who started a few games for us in 1999, my final season as coach. He would have been a solid college prospect his senior year and we had taken him on a visit to the U of Iowa. Josh was involved in an automobile accident prior to the start of his senior season that effectively ended his playing career. He was a top-notch young man and our hearts go out to his family…. The Stillwater Class of 1983, which produced athletic teams of the first order, will hold its class reunion on Aug. 17. More on that subject later…. The SAHS cagers (22-7) had five players hit double figures in their 78-65 Section 4AAAA semifinal victory last Saturday night at East Ridge. Joe Quinn led the scoring parade with 20 points, followed by Aaron Romportl with 18, Andrew Duxbury with 14, Matt Anderson 11 and Sam Lagus 10…. Coach Rich Keller’s wrestlers compiled a 17-19 record this year while finishing runner-up to Woodbury in the section tournament. SAHS sent eight wrestlers to the big show, including fourth-place finishers Christian Bahl (34-12), an eighth-grader, at 106 pounds and senior Austin Jordan (39-8) at 126 pounds. Jordan ran his career record to 123-46, which is the fourth most wins in team history. Jordan qualified for state three times and this is Bahl’s second state appearance…. John Wayne said it best: “Life’s tough — it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”…. Did you know that in “Raging Bull” Hershey’s chocolate was used for blood because it showed up better on black and white film…. Together we build character, courage and loyalty…. finis
Today’s rumination #609
To try and fail may disappoint, but to fail to try disables.
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George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: [email protected]