Sports Memories: Taking a walk down memory lane

Published 8:30 pm Friday, December 30, 2022

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Sports Memories by Tom Jones

Tom Jones

As we wrap up another year in the sports world, many new memories were created both for our local teams and our Minnesota teams. I look forward to seeing and being a part of what these teams do as we begin a new year.

This week I am looking back at some memories of mine from my 60 years of being a sports fan, both locally and at a statewide level.

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Albert Lea Tigers boys’ basketball

At the section semi-final to go to state in 1979, Albert Lea defeated Owatonna on a last-second shot from Jeff Ulman on a pass from Paul Woodside in front of a full house at the Mayo Civic Auditorium. Albert Lea went on to lose to Rochester Mayo in the finals. The 2005 opening round loss to Shakopee in the Tigers first state tournament appearance since 1936 is also a favorite memory as I had coached the seniors on that team while they were in seventh and eighth grade.

Albert Lea Tigers football

It was a game in Winona and the Tigers were on a 30-plus game losing streak. Ryan Truesdell found the end zone late in the game to stop the streak. I was brought to tears in the broadcast booth.

Albert Lea boys’ hockey

Being able to watch the Tigers play in the state tournament in 2004, 2005 and 2007 was amazing. I also remember walking in to the City Arena for its first game and being amazed by the facility.

All-Star wrestling in Albert Lea

Who can forget going to the old Armory to watch professional wrestling? The smoke in the arena was thicker than the wrestlers’ muscles. Watching Angelo “King Kong” Mosca being pelted with ping pong balls on his introduction was a classic.

Lea College

My dad would bring my family to many games at what is now the City Arena. One special memory was a game the Lancers had against a very tall Swedish international team. Getting autographs after the game was very cool for a small fan like me.

Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball

Albert Lea’s Ben Woodside made two appearances at Williams Arena with his North Dakota State basketball team. What fun it was to watch one of our own compete against the Gophers.

Minnesota Gophers women’s basketball

It was a joy to watch NRHEG’s Carlie Wagner play four years for the maroon and gold. Minnesota nice is in her blood as she would come out after games and sign autographs for her many fans.

Minnesota Twins

Being at one World Series game in 1987 and 1991 would top my list. Packing four friends and myself in my 1978 Chevy Chevette at Winona State and making the trek to the Metrodome home opener on April 6, 1982, would be included. On April 17, 1979, Rod Carew made his reurn to Met Stadium as a California. The crowd went crazy when he was introduced. A game I went to with my mom and friends.

Minnesota Vikings

On Oct. 16, 1989, Herschel Walker made his debut with the Vikings at the Metrodome. The place was rocking when he had a long run from scrimmage with his shoe falling off. The Miracle at the Met in 1980, the Minneapolis Miracle and this past weeks win over the Giants were favorites I only got to watch on television.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The first couple of years of the franchise we had a press pass at the Tribune, and I would go to games and take pictures sitting courtside. Huge crowds both years at the Metrodome and then Target Center created much excitement. Catching the Holidazzle Parade and then going to a game made for quite an evening out. Hearing Sid Hartman say “Minneapolis North would beat these guys tonight” was a classic. Being courtside taking pictures on Michael Jordan’s last appearance at Target Center before his first retirement created quite a fan frenzy.

I hope you have enjoyed these memories and my return to writing this column each week. I look forward to bringing our readers more great sports history in 2023.