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Paynesville Press - October 5, 2005

Jack Hoppe, Class of 1954

By Michael Jacobson

jackJack Hoppe, Class of 1954, played football, basketball, baseball, and track at PHS, earning 15 letters.

In football, he lettered three times, starting at quarterback his junior and senior seasons.

In basketball, he lettered four times. He was a playoff sub as a freshman on the 1950-51 team that lost in the district finals to Willmar. He started his sophomore year, as the team went 19-1 in the regular season and took third in districts, again losing to Willmar. The Dogs went 14-9 his junior year and 16-6 his senior year, when they again lost to Willmar in district semifinals.

In baseball, Hoppe was the star pitcher of the 1953 American Legion team that qualified for the state tournament and lost 3-2 in extra innings to Grain Exchange of Minneapolis. In the district tourney, Hoppe pitched 13 scoreless innings as Paynesville beat St. Cloud 5-0 and Bemidji 7-2. The Dogs were Tri-County champs in basketball, baseball, and track in 1954.

In track, he won the district title in the pole vault his senior year and the region title in Minneapolis, competing against schools like Edina, Hopkins, Robbinsdale Armstrong, and St. Louis Park, by clearing 11' 2" and qualifying for state.

After high school, Hoppe attended the University of Minnesota and pitched for the Gophers baseball team. He played freshman baseball in 1955 and was a member of the Gophers' Big Ten and NCAA championship team in 1956, pitching two-plus innings in a College World Series game against Arizona. It was the first NCAA championship for Minnesota in baseball. (They also won baseball titles in 1960 and 1964.)

Hoppe played amateur baseball for many years with the Paynesville Lakers. While in college, though, he played in a Class B league in 1955 and was drafted by the Cold Spring Springers, who won the state title. He won three games in the state tourney and was named the MVP.

After hurting his arm, he returned to the Lakers and was a star pitcher for years in the Soo Line League in the 1950s and 1960s. After leaving the university in 1957, Hoppe worked for four years at a telephone company and for ten years as a wholesale milk driver. For the past 33 years, he has been an insurance agent with American Family Insurance, which he still does. He has four children and five grandchildren.

He resides in Maple Grove, Minn., with his fiancee Linda Jacobson. His hobbies are fishing, hunting pheasants, and golfing.

What is your fondest memory from high school?
Winning two games in one day at the Paynesville ballpark and going to the 1953 American Legion state tourney at Lexington Park in St. Paul.

How did high school athletics prepare you for life?
Athletics taught you how to win and lose and to treat opponents and officials with total respect.

Why do you consider yourself lucky to have graduated from PHS?
Graduating from PHS gave me a chance to participate in all the sports and kept me busy and out of trouble. My high school years were the four greatest years of my life, besides my four children.

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