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Gophers Illustrated: The Incredible Complete History of Minnesota Football by Al Papas Jr.

Papas_jr_gophers_mediumOn occasion I'll be contacted by publishers with an offer to review their book with the expectation of me compiling a post urging you to read this book.  For instance I reviewed Seth Davis' book, "When March Went Mad."  This was a very good book and if you love college basketball I would highly recommend it.  But once in a while something comes along that is absolutely perfect for Gopher fans, and this would qualify; hands down!

Al Papas Jr is a life-long Gopher fan, a former cartoonist and newsroom artist.  He put his Gopher passion and talents together for this outstanding book. 

When I heard about this particular book there were few things I was expecting.  Bios of key players (Brondo Nagurski, Tony Dungy, Sandy Stephens, Marion Barber III, etc) was something every book looking  back in Gopher history would have.  Stories on national championships, key games in Gopher history and the rivalry trophies are also standards for anything to be considered comprehensive.  This book has all of that and more.

But what made this book incredible was the unexpected.  What separates this book from the rest is the details, the uniqueness and the one of a kind sketches that dominate the book.  Each page had a unique drawing of the player done by Papas and then had a well written and always interesting bio of the player.  You can find player stats and awards won from a number of sources but you won't find these one of a kind sketches anywhere else, you'll also be pleasantly surprised by the anecdotes on the players as well.  Papas did his research on these bios, the key is the details and he nailed it in this book.

The other feature of the book that I particularly enjoyed was the decade notes pages.  Each decade, Papas would have a page full of anecdotes, stats and game stories; most of which I had never heard before.  One of my Number_guy_medium

Minnesota would not comply with Big Ten "recommendations" for players to wear numerals in 1914.  By 1921 the Big Ten "urged" that they be used.  Coach Williams did not want his players to be identified and so put four-digit numbers on them to be unreadable.

There is of course a corresponding image along with many other notes on that page from the 1920's.  This particular page was provided to me and you can see it here, courtesy of the University of Minnesota Press with illustrations obviously from Al Papas Jr.

The books outstanding and anyone who considers themselves a Gopher fan should have one in their possession. 

There are a number of upcoming events for the book.  Below is the link to purchase the book online and after the break is Tony Dungy's page from the book.

ISBN: 978-0-8166-6756-7

  • Sept. 9 - Reading and book signing at Magers & Quinn Booksellers
  • Oct 9 - Reading and book signing at U of Minn Bookstore (Coffman Memorial Union)
  • Nov 14 - Talk and book signing at Barnes & Noble (Maple Grove)
  • Nov 28 - Talk and book signing at Barnes & Noble (Apple Valley)
  • Dec 12 - Talk and book signing at Barnes & Noble (Blaine)

Image and text by Al Papas Jr, courtesy of University of Minnesota Press