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Magazine features legendary Tallman

This column noted last August the induction of D.N. Tallman into the MGA-PGA Hall of Fame.

The summer issue of the Minnesota Golf Association's Minnesota Golfer features a cover story on "Forgotten Champion, David Tallman, Minnesota's Most Unknown Golf Legend."

Engineer, town-site developer along the Great Northern Railroad, and champion of the underdog, D.N. Tallman went from great wealth to welfare before he died here in 1958. The Tallman "mansion" on Gorton Avenue was razed in 2008.

Tallman didn't take up golf until age 50, but the all-around athlete would win the National Seniors Golf Championship six years later. He won five Minnesota Senior Championships and the first-ever Lakeland Tournament in 1931 at the just opened nine-hole Willmar Country Club. He won his third Lakeland in 1943 at age 77.

He played winter rounds in Florida with Babe Ruth, a fact documented in one of the photographs.

His granddaughter Nancy (Lundquist) Ramey is quoted. She recalls her grandfather's generosity, a sprawling Green Lake summer retreat and hundreds of trophies, which were stolen from storage and never recovered.

Richard Larson, who caddied for Tallman starting in 1949, told the writer, Jon Bissen, "He was a very upbeat guy. Sharp as a tack and fun to be with (even in his 80s). He never complained, unless it was an errant golf shot."

A senior water bug

Sandy Pierce lives on the city's southwest side near the business district and is someone I have known as an industrious gardener.

It turns out she is a bit like D.N. Tallman in that she found a sporting passion later in life. The 68-year-old California native is competed this week in the National Senior Games in Houston, Texas.

She's swam in four events, two backstrokes and two freestyles. On Tuesday, she placed 23rd in the 50-back in a time of 1:16.82 in the 65-69 age class.

She had no illusions of medaling at nationals. She had medaled in the four events at the Minnesota Senior Games at Highland Arena in Mankato early this month which qualified her for nationals.

This is her fourth competition in five years. She swims five mornings a week at the YMCA and regular exercise has helped her recover from two hip and one shoulder replacement.

Leyva in minors

The inaugural Stingers' club has already produced another professional, besides Willmar's own Jordan Smith.

Carlos Leyva, a second-baseman/shortstop, was drafted by the New York Mets in June and has been assigned to the Gulf Coast Rookie League. He debuted June 22 going 3-for-4 and after a 2-for-5 game on Monday Leyva is hitting .333 with seven RBI.

After his summer here, the Los Angeles native had an outstanding senior year at Cal State, Dominquez Hills and earned All-America honorable mention.

Tennis events saved

Jeff and Kina Melby, who own Play it Again Sports, have stepped up to manage the city's two summer tennis tournaments.

Cooperating with WCER, they took over the Cardinal Classic this year from Chad Schmiesing of New London. He rescued the event five years ago after Steve Myhre had run a successful early-summer tournament for many years.

It's a tough job, especially the first time. It's all detail work and there is the uncertainty of the weather besides.

In early August, the Melbys, who have two small children, will run the August Tournament, as the Rice Classic sponsored by Play it Again Sports. The Rice family presented the event so capably for a dozen years.

Kina, whose maiden name is Hanson, played in four Class A state tournament at New London-Spicer. All four years she and Erika Kath, the Cardinal girls tennis coach, were doubles partners.

Cardinal Classic finalist Marco Vazquez has played three years for Minnesota State, Mankato after graduating from Willmar. He said the Mavericks have now dropped the program, along with women's bowling and men's swimming. Marco is a law enforcement major with a minor in Spanish.

Abby Fragodt, the Classic's Women's Open champion, is a math major at Minnesota-Morris. Her older brothers, Joey and Dan, are both math education majors

On the ice

After seven years here, hockey coach Reed Larson is returning to his native Iron Range where he will be head coach of the Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl boys hockey team.

The 33-year-old Grand Rapids native spent his first three years here as head coach and the past four as Dan Tollefson's assistant.

Larson told Hockey Hub he learned a lot from Tollefson: "(Dan's) Xs and Os are second to none. But I think his people skills ... are even more impressive."

The Blue Devils, a top program in the North Country, were 20-8 last year. Willmar had a strong year, also, going 16-9-3 and reaching the section final.

Lee Engstrom has been named head coach of the Shakopee boys hockey team. He replaces Ed Vizenor, who resigned after two season. Engstrom, who owns a graphics business according to a Hockey Hub article, was Vizenor's assistant. Lee's sister Tracy Cassano is head coach of the Rosemount Irish girls team.

On the fly

The Rochester Community and Technical College operates the top program in the MCAC football league. The Yellowjackets head coach Brad LaPlante has resigned and is moving to Texas, where he will become a defensive line coach for a 5A team, the largest class. In seven seasons, LaPlante's teams won four state titles and twice was runner-up.

Hailey Vreeman and Emily Minnick, two of nine seniors returning on the Cardinal volleyball team, played Southwest Minnesota 17U this spring. The team competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center outside Orlando in the AAU Junior Nationals in June. Vreeman, a setter, wrenched her knee the third day and sat out. She is awaiting tests but fully expects to be ready for the fall season.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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