December 09, 2010

Hamline to install basketball “Row of Honor” on Saturday

The ceremony will honor the university’s historic achievements of national consequence in men’s basketball. Prior to the installation of the newly created “Row of Honor,” Hamline will recognize the members of the national championship teams of 1942, 1949, and 1951 by unveiling new championship banners in Hutton Arena.

The event will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 11. The Pipers will then host St. Thomas in an MIAC game at 3:00 p.m. All of the festivities will take place at Hutton Arena on the campus of Hamline University.

“I feel it is important for the Hamline University athletes, parents, and fans of today to understand the depth of our historical success,” said director of athletics Bob Beeman. “The legacy of our championship team participants and our ‘Row of Honor’ inductees provides us with an inspiring foundation for the next generation of excellence.”

Eight former players and two storied coaches will be inducted into the “Row of Honor,” which will span the width of the north end of the arena. Seven of the players competed in the NBA while the eighth was drafted into the NBA and played in the National Professional Basketball League. The group consists of an NBA Hall of Fame member (Vern Mikkelsen ‘49), a player who competed in the NFL and NBA (Don Eliason ‘41), and another who competed in the NBA and MLB (Howie Schultz ‘43).

The complete list of players being inducted into the “Row of Honor” includes: Don Eliason ‘41, Jim Fritsche ‘53, Hal Haskins ‘50, Joe Hutton, Jr. ‘50, Vern Mikkelsen ‘49, John Norlander ‘43, Howie Schultz ‘43, and Rollie Seltz ’46.

“This will be a great day to honor several individuals who define a tradition of excellence both as Pipers and as professionals, including a pair of coaches who are arguably two of the all-time greatest in college history,” said men’s basketball head coach Nelson Whitmore. “We look forward to honoring these legendary players and coaches.”

Mikkelsen was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame after winning four NBA championships as part of the Minneapolis Lakers dynasty. He spent ten years with the Lakers and was a seven-time all-pro player. Additionally, Mikkelsen was a member of the 1949 Hamline national championship team.

Schultz played professionally in two sports – posting an eight-year pro career in basketball and a seven-year pro career in baseball. He made his MLB debut on August 16, 1943, with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was their starting first baseman until 1947 when Jackie Robinson took over the role on opening day. Schultz then turned to professional basketball in 1946 and concluded his NBA career by winning back-to-back championships with the Minneapolis Lakers.

Don Meyer (Hamline coaching career: 1972-75) began his collegiate head coaching career at Hamline. He turned the Hamline program around, going from a 5-20 record in his first year to a 16-11 record and the NCAA Elite Eight in his third season. He went on to become the all-time leader in coaching wins in NCAA men's basketball history, posting 923 career collegiate wins. Meyer was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2009 ESPY Awards.

Joe Hutton, Sr. (Hamline coaching career: 1930-65) posted a 591-207 (344-91 conference) record that placed him sixth among all college basketball coaches in the country at the time of his retirement. In thirty five years, Hutton-coached basketball teams won nineteen conference titles, all three of Hamline’s national championships, and were three-time NAIA runners-up. He is also the namesake of Hamline’s basketball facility.

The four living inductees of the “Row of Honor” – Fritsche, Meyer, Mikkelsen, and Seltz – are scheduled to attend and take part in the ceremony. Close family members will be in attendance to represent the deceased inductees.

For more information regarding the ceremonies or the inductees, contact Stephanie Harris, sports information director, at 651-523-2786 or via email at sharris07@hamline.edu.

Hamline University belongs to the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, one of the most competitive conferences in the nation. Hamline supports 19 intercollegiate athletic teams for men and women. Find out more about Hamline athletics at www.hamline.edu/athletics.

Creative and innovative teaching and learning attract a diverse student body of nearly 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students to Hamline University. Challenged to create and apply knowledge in local and global contexts, Hamline students develop an individual and community ethic of social justice, civic responsibility, and inclusive leadership and service.

Ranked first in Minnesota among comprehensive master’s universities by U.S.News & World Report, Hamline is also Minnesota’s first university, founded in 1854, and among the first co-educational institutions in the nation.