Gophers Bowl at Lanes for Friendship

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The Gopher baseball team was well-represented at the Highland Friendship Club's Lanes for Friendship event. Pictured here with Jack Jablonski.


The Highland Friendship Club's seventh annual Lanes for Friendship event took place last weekend. Gopher baseball coaches and student-athletes attended to bowl and spend time with other participants.

Pat Leseman, the mother of former Gopher baseball player Tony Leseman, founded the HFC in 2002. From the organization's website: "The mission of the Highland Friendship Club is to serve individuals with disabilities from teens through adulthood by providing a range of opportunities to develop lifelong skills, friendships and connections within their community."

To learn more, visit http://highlandfriendshipclub.org/.

Gopher Coaches Share Postseason Memories

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The Gopher baseball coaches have obviously seen a lot of college baseball, but they have some good Major League Baseball stories, too. With the 2013 World Series underway, we asked assistant coaches Rob Fornasiere and Todd Oakes to share some of their  memories of watching the national pastime's biggest event.

Go Gophers! Puckett and Davis
Go Gophers!
Kirby Puckett and Chili Davis at the 1991 World Series (AP photo)
Go Gophers!
Rob Fornasiere, Assistant Head Coach:
"I was fortunate to attend both the seventh game of the 1987 World Series and games 6 & 7 of the 1991 World Series in the Metrodome. Besides the bedlam inside the Dome for all the games, to witness Kirby Puckett's game winning HR in game 6 of 1991 and Jack Morris' 10-inning gem in 1991 were experiences of a lifetime!

"I also remember my third grade teacher wheeling in a television to the classroom in 1964 to watch the World Series which featured Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. That was my first recollection that this Baseball thing must be important to interrupt our class schedule."

Todd Oakes, Pitching Coach:
"My wife and I attended game 3 (Oct. 17) of the 1989 World Series between the A's and the Giants. The problem was there wasn't a game - because of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occured about 15 minutes before game time. It was a beautiful, sunny day in San Francisco and my wife and I were fired up to be there. I was a minor league pitching coach in the Giants organization at the time and our trip to the World Series to see games 3-4-5 was our reward. It was going to be a great 3-4 day stay in SF that turned into a nightmare as we sat in SF for a few days before we were able to fly back home. The World Series resumed 10 days later as the A's swept the Giants in four games. We did not get to go back to SF and see games 3 & 4. 
Go Gophers! Candlestick Park
Go Gophers!
Players and media stand on the field after the earthquake (AP photo)
Go Gophers!
 
"Terri and I had been to the VIP tent outside the stadium and had a great time. I had even talked her into approaching Joe DiMaggio (this is a story in itself) and getting his autograph on a ball I had stuck in her purse.  We went up to our seats about 30 minutes before the game - behind home plate in the upper deck. We were taking some pictures and enjoying the atmosphere. After we had been in our seats for about 10 minutes, the stadium started shaking and the light towers were swaying side to side. At the time, there was a big plane flying over the stadium and my first reaction was, "Is that plane rumbling over the stadium causing this?" Shortly after, I realized it was an earthquake. It probably lasted 10-12 seconds but seemed much longer. There was an eerie quiet that overcame the packed Candlestick Park for a few seconds and then the crowd cheered wildly, not knowing the severity of the earthquake - thinking it was a good omen for the Giants. We sat in our seats in amazement and wondered what was going on. After they cancelled the game, the crowd left the stadium in an orderly fashion. We got back on the bus and it took us 2-3 hours to get back to the hotel only a few miles away. When we got back to the hotel, we couldn't get in our room because the hotel had shaken so violently that it flipped the safety latch shut. We sat in the lobby for hours until they could go around and unlock the doors. There were aftershocks that night and it was a night of anxiety wondering what was next. We stayed in SF for another day before we were able to get a flight back home. It was rather refreshing to get the heck out of there. My one and only opportunity to experience a World Series and it wasn't meant to be. But I do still have my Joe DiMaggio ball!
 
"P.S. Terry Steinbach - former Gopher and Twins bench coach - was the starting catcher for the A's.   
 
"I will be content watching this World Series from my recliner."

Update: Gophers in the Pros

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As the minor league season comes to an end and MLB is in its last month, now would be a good time to catch up with some former Gophers who have continued their baseball careers.

Major Leagues
*Glen Perkins has been the Twins' closer all season, and he made his first trip to the All-Star Game in July. He has converted 32 of his 36 save opportunities with a 2.63 ERA and 68 K in 54 2/3 innings.

*Jack Hannahan has played in 76 games for the Cincinnati Reds this season, primarily at third base. He is batting .224 and has five doubles 

Go Gophers! Glen Perkins
Go Gophers!
Glen Perkins
Go Gophers!
Minor League
*The Rochester Red Wings made the International League playoffs for the first time since 2006. Cole De Vries will start Rochester's series opener against Pawtucket on Wednesday. De Vries pitched seven shutout innings (allowing just two hits) in his last start for Rochester. On the season, he is 4-6 with a 4.96 ERA in 16 starts.

*Nate Hanson hit a combined .241 with 9 HR and 56 RBI in 121 games split between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. 
 
*Kyle Knudson hit a combined .287 with 2 HR and 21 RBI in 57 games split between Class A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain
 
*Michael Kvasnicka hit .282 with 9 HR and 40 RBI in 69 games with Class A Fort Myers.
 
*AJ Pettersen hit .201 with 1 HR and 15 RBI in 86 games split between Fort Myers and New Britain.
 
*The Colorado Rockies promoted TJ Oakes to Modesto of the Advanced Class A California League from Asheville of the Class A South Atlantic League. Oakes was 9-8 with a 4.22 ERA in 25 games with Asheville. He is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 1 game with Modesto, which qualified for the California League playoffs.
 
*Seth Rosin was 9-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 26 games with the Phillies' Reading farm team in the Double-A Eastern League.
 
*DJ Snelten was 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 14 games with the Giants' farm team in the rookie Arizona League, which made the Arizona League playoffs.
 
*Tom Windle was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 13 games with the Dodgers' Great Lakes farm team in the Midwest League. He struck out 51 in 53 2/3 innings. Great Lakes made the Midwest League playoffs.

Tyler Hanson at the Legion World Series

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Incoming Gopher freshman Tyler Hanson is playing in the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. We will update the progress of Hanson and the Burnsville Cobras here during the tournament. Burnsville advanced to the ALWS by winning the Central Plains Regional. Hanson was the Regional MVP, batting .563 and picking up two wins on the mound.

Aug. 18

The Burnsville Cobras' season has come to an end, as they fell 3-1 to Petaluma today. Burnsville finished the summer with a 37-12 record, and was the second Minnesota team to make the ALWS in the past three years.

Aug. 17

Burnsville fell to Brooklawn, N.J., which is representing the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Brooklawn took a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning and ended up winning 8-1. The Cobras are still alive in the double-elimination tournament.

Up next: Burnsville vs. Petaluma (Calif.), Noon CT Sunday

Aug. 16

In the first game of the Legion World Series, the Cobras beat Napoleon, Ohio, 4-0. Hanson pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He scattered six hits and struck out five to earn the win. Burnsville scored all of its runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Up next: Burnsville vs.the winner of Northwest/Mid-Atlantic, 4 p.m. CT Saturday

Tyler Hanson to Play in Legion World Series

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Incoming Gopher freshman Tyler Hanson will play in the American Legion World Series after leading the Burnsville Cobras to a Central Plains Regional title. The Legion World Series runs Friday, Aug. 16 through Tuesday, Aug. 20 in Shelby, N.C.

Hanson was named MVP of the region after batting .563 in five games and earning two wins on the mound. He hit 5-for-5 with two RBI in the regional championship, helping Burnsville become the second Minnesota team to make the World Series in three years. (Eden Prairie won in 2011.)

Hanson will join the Gopher roster for the 2014 season. Before the Cobras' season started, Hanson ended his high school career with an all-state season. He batted .424 with two home runs, 20 RBI and 22 runs scored. He went 4-1 with a 1.20 ERA as a pitcher, striking out 45 and walking only four in 35 innings. Hanson played for the Metro East team in the Play Ball! Minnesota High School Baseball All-Star Series.

Gopher Great Winfield Headed Back to CWS

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Go Gophers! Winfield
Go Gophers!
Ameritrade Press Release
It's been 40 years since he pitched in it, but former Golden Gopher great Dave Winfield is still showing his impact within college baseball and the College World Series. It was announced that Winfield will serve as the official ambassador for the 2013 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, July 3, at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha (Neb.) and will air nationally on ESPN at 7 p.m. CDT on Thursday, July 4.

While at Minnesota, Winfield was a First-Team All-American in 1973 and was two-time All-Big Ten in 1971 & 73. In his last season he was 9-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 82.0 innings of work. He also batted .385 with 33 RBI in 130 at-bats that season.

Winfield was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Gophers' 1973 College World Series run. He went 1-0 in the CWS as a pitcher, giving up just 10 hits, three earned runs and striking out 29 batters in 17.1 innings of work. Winfield had 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Oklahoma in the College World Series as he tallied a complete-game shutout. He had a no-decision as he struck out 15 batters in 8.1 innings in a stunning 8-7 loss to USC. Winfield had a 1.56 ERA in the two games he pitched against Oklahoma and USC in the CWS. He also was 7-for-15 with two RBI at the plate. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in the first-ever class in 2006.

Winfield was drafted in three major professional sports: basketball (Atlanta Hawks and Utah Stars), football (Minnesota Vikings) and baseball (San Diego Padres). A 12-time MLB All-Star, Winfield played for 22 years and held a career .283 batting average, hit 465 home runs and amassed 3,110 hits. He was a seven-time Gold Glove winner and helped lead the Toronto Blue Jays to their first World Championship in 1992. He was inducted into the Major League Hall of Fame in 2001.

Gophers In Summer Ball Action

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Like every year and many teams across college baseball, University of Minnesota players take time to play in various summer ball action throughout the country. Gopher Baseball will have 10 current players competing in the Northwoods League this summer. Ben Meyer and Connor Schaefbauer will compete in the Cape Cod League with the Brewster Whitecaps, while some Gophers will play for legion or town ball teams. Along with the current Gophers, included is where some of the incoming freshmen will be competing this summer.

Gopher Baseball In Summer League Action

Jake Bergren-Alexandria Blue Anchors (Northwoods)
David Bettenburg-St. Paul Capitals
Joey Brettingen-St. Paul Capitals
Alec Crawford-Eau Claire Express (Northwoods)
Kyle Crocker-Brainerd Bees
Matt Halloran-Rochester Honkers (Northwoods)
Michael Handel-Madison Mallards (Northwoods)
Alex LaShomb- Miesville Mudhens
Bobby Juan-La Crosse Loggers (Northwoods)
Ben Meyer-Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod League)
Dan Olinger-Alaska
Dalton Sawyer-St. Cloud Rox (Northwoods)
Chris Schaaf-Long Beach Legends
Connor Schaefbauer-Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod)
Tony Skjefte-Minneapolis Lakers
Jordan Smith-Chaska Cubs
Matt Stemper-Burnsville
Mark Tatera-Duluth Huskies (Northwoods)
Lance Thonvold-Eau Claire Express (Northwoods)
Troy Traxler-La Crosse Loggers (Northwoods)
Alex Tukey-Battle Creek Bombers (Northwoods)

Incoming Gopher Freshmen
Matt Fielder-Eagan Legion
Austin Athmann-Cold Spring Legion
Brian Glowicki-Longshots (Ill.)
Cody Campbell-Longshots (Ill.)
Tyler Hanson-Burnsville Legion
Joe Martinson-Excelsior Legion
Toby Anderson-Nampa Legion

Gophers In The Pros: Gopher Baseball in the MLB and MiLB

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The University of Minnesota will once again be well represented within Major League Baseball and its affiliates. With opening days running across the United States, it's also the opening weeks throughout their farm systems.

Golden Gopher Baseball has three that are in Major League this season. Jack Hannahan went from the American League and the Cleveland Indians, to the National League and the Cincinnati Reds as their third baseman. Glen Perkins continues to become one of the best relievers in the game. After competing with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Perkins is set to be the Minnesota Twins closer. Cole De Vries is also back with the Minnesota Twins after he made his MLB debut last summer.

Gopher alums are spreading through the minor leagues as well. Four former Gophers are in the Twins organization (Nate Hanson, Kyle Knudson, Mike Kvasnicka and AJ Petterson) all reported to their respective teams. After Seth Rosin was involved with the Hunter Pence trade from the San Francisco Giants, Rosin is with the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Justin Gominsky (Houston) and Nick O'Shea (Cincinnati) are both with their Class A teams, while TJ Oakes joined Ashville (Colorado) for his first full season.

Here's a list of all Gopher alums playing professionally:

Jack Hannahan, MLB, Cincinnati Reds
Cole De Vries, MLB Minnesota Twins
Glen Perkins, MLB Minnesota Twins
Nate Hanson, Minnesota Twins-New Britian AA
Seth Rosin, Philadelphia Phillies- Reading Fightin Phils-AA Eastern
Kyle Knudson, Minnesota Twins-Fort Myers Miracle
Mike Kvasnicka, Minnesota Twins-Fort Myers Miracle
A.J. Petterson, Minnesota Twins-Fort Myers Miracle
Justin Gominsky, Houston Astros-Quad City River Bandits Class A
Nick O'Shea, Cincinnati Reds-Dayton Dragons Class A
TJ Oakes, Colorado Rockies-Ashville Tourists Class A
Dan Lyons-Independent, Long Island Ducks




Each Tuesday throughout the summer on the official Minnesota Gophers Facebook page (be sure to "like" us if you don't already!) we'll be highlighting a great moment in Gopher history to help populate our Facebook Timeline.

Have a suggestion for what we should feature next for Timeline Tuesday? Write a note on our Facebook Timeline!


June 8, 1973: Dave Winfield fans 14 Oklahoma Sooners to lead the Gophers to a 1-0 win in the opening game of the '73 College World Series.


The 2012 College World Series is unique in that two "northern" teams (Stony Brook and Kent State) made the tournament, but baseball fans should remember that Minnesota was once a dominant force on the national scene in the sport.

In 1973, a senior named Dave Winfield turned in arguably the greatest individual performance in CWS history -- tossing 17 1/3 innings, allowing just nine hits, one earned run and striking out 29... In addition, he batted .467 in the Series!

Winfield tossed a series-opening shutout against the Sooners, and also tossed 8 scoreless innings in the Gophers' 8-7 dramatic loss to USC, which is widely recognized as one of the most memorable games in World Series history.

Despite the fact that the Gophers were eliminated by the Trojans in the semifinals, Winfield still earned Most Outstanding Player honors -- a feat accomplished by just 10 men in the history of the tournament.

Gophers In Summer Action

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Although the University of Minnesota baseball program has completed the season, a number of Gopher Baseball players will continue action throughout the summer months. In fact, some loaded up immediately after the annual end-of-the-year banquet and have already started their season. Four Gophers, Andy Henkemeyer, Ben Meyer, Tony Skjefte and Billy Soule will play for the St. Cloud Rox (Northwoods League), while DJ Snelten and Matt Halloran play for the Rochester Honkers. In all, 10 members will play within the NWL. Jordan Jess already collected a win for the Wisconsin Woodchucks on opening day (5/30/12).

Dan Olinger and Tom Windle will head to the Cape Cod League and the Brewster Whitecaps, while Kurt Schlangen will play with the Goldpanners in Alaska. Over 20 players will compete this summer. Here's a link to all the websites of the Gopher connections and their summer teams.

Andy Henkemeyer St. Cloud Rox (NWL)
Ben Meyer, St. Cloud Rox (NWL)
Billy Soule, St. Cloud Rox (NWL)
Tony Skjefte, St. Cloud Rox (NWL)
Jordan Jess, Wisconsin Woodchucks (NWL)
Matt Halloran, Rochester Honkers (NWL)
DJ Snelten, Rochester Honkers (NWL)
Alex Tukey, Battle Creek Bombers (NWL)
Bobby Juan, La Crosse Loggers (NWL)
Drew Ghelfi, Eau Claire Express (NWL)
Dan Olinger, Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod)
Tom Windle, Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod)
Kurt Schlangen, Alaska Goldpanners (Alaska League)
Jake Bergren, Springfield Sliders (Prospect League)
Ryan Abrahamson, St. Paul Capitals
Ty McDevitt, St. Paul Capitals
Kevin Kray, St. Paul Capitals
Mark Tatera, Eagan Bandits
Kyle Crocker, Brainerd Bees
JT Canakes, Edina E-Sox
Kyle O'Shea, Coon Rapids Redbirds