Andy (Hambone) Papke
Andy Papke graduated from Waseca Central High School in 1947 and from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1951. He was one of several athletes who enlisted in the service during World War ll and returned to complete his education after the hostilities ceased. Before entering the Navy, he distinguished himself in athletics, particularly in basketball and football. Hambone Papke was one of the greatest athletes to ever play for Waseca Central.
He was a 6-3, 185 pound end in football. Coach Lee Krough described his play as tremendous on both offense and defense. In addition to being a bulwark on defense, Papke’s height and long arms made him a pass receiver par excellent. His defensive play at end was something to watch. Back in the 40’s, fans came out in droves to watch the Bluejays. One Friday night, over 1,500 fans swamped the ticket office at Community Field to set an all time attendance record. In one game, on the first play, Andy broke through the line and sacked the quarterback; the first of many beautiful defensive plays executed by Papke. He was also a tremendous punter; many times, his booming kick put the defense deep in their own territory. In a game against Austin, Papke stood back on his own seven-yard line and got off a boot that carried to the Austin seven, astounding everyone including the opposition. It was officially recorded as a 75-yard punt from the line of scrimmage. A sports note written by a Minneapolis sports writer stated – Minnesota averaged 40 yards per punt against Northwestern Saturday. Andy (Hambone) Papke, Waseca High School punter topped that in both of his last two games. Andy was an All-Conference end his senior year and was the only unanimous choice on the South Central Conference all-star team, which earned him the captaincy. He achieved football’s highest honor as he was named to the Minnesota All-State Football Team. Papke was Central’s third all-stater, the first being Wayne (Bumps) Brown and the second, Gordy Huntington.
In basketball, Andy, a four-year starter, coached by Dwain “Whitey” Aamot, was on one of the best teams to ever play at Central. In his senior year, playing forward and center, the team had a 20-1 win-loss record in the regular season. Their only loss came when Andy was out of the line-up with a sprained ankle. The big game of the year was Waseca (ranked #2 in the state) against Duluth; the returning state champs and ranked #1 in state. Papke had the job of defending their heralded high scorer. When Andy fouled out late in the fourth quarter, their high scoring center had yet to score a field goal, while scoring 19 himself. Played before a crowd of 825, the game was won by Waseca 57-49. The following week Whitey Aamot’s Bluejays were ranked #1. With the dominate scoring and rebounding of Waseca’s two big guys, Papke and the late Shyde Krause, Waseca went on to win the conference, districts and then lost a one point game to Austin in the region finals on a very controversial call. Although Waseca suffered that defeat, the 1947 team will go down in history as one of the greatest basketball teams ever to wear the bluejay uniform, second only to Waseca’s state champions of 1918. While at Central, Andy was all-conference, all- district and all- region.
Papke went on to star at Gustavus, where he got his teaching degree. Andy taught social studies 38 years, was assistant football coach 25 years and head basketball coach 17 years at Alden, Pine River and Morris, MN. In the late 60’s Andy Papke brought his Morris Tigers to town and walked off with a narrow 44-43 victory over Manny Beckmann’s Bluejays. Whitey Aamot introduced Andy to the crowd before the start of the game. He had his own cheering section led by his sisters Violet and Josephine. Their husbands were on hand too but apparently were not as noisy.
Andy and his wife Dolores raised six children, Linda, Mark, David, John, James and Mary. Dolores and a daughter, Linda have passed on. Andy retired in 1989 and lives in Morris, MN.