A look at Hamline’s greats

The number 73 and 13 mean a lot to Hamline’s past.

Any student who has visited Hutton Arena for a game, a practice or even just passed through has probably noticed the display hanging over the stands on the southwest side of the court. On a large black wall hangs an American flag, below it the words “Birthplace of Intercollegiate Basketball.” On either side of the flag are jerseys. The display holds two jerseys, one a football jersey number 73, the other basketball number 13. These jerseys belonged to Steve Lindgren ‘75 and Vern Mikkelsen ‘49 respectively. Despite showing off the framed jerseys, the display tells little of the stories of how these men got their names honored on the wall.

Vern Mikkelsen attended Hamline University in the 40s having graduated in the class of ‘49. Mikkelsen was a multifaceted athlete having competed in track doing discus and high jump, but was better known for his time playing basketball at Hamline and having led Hamline to their second of three NAIA championships in ‘49.

Mikkelsen did not stop his basketball career at Hamline though, as he was quickly picked up by the Minneapolis Lakers and given the chance to play in the NBA. Mikkelsen spent the next ten years playing for Minneapolis from 1949-1959. Throughout his successful career, Mikkelsen won four NBA Championships, 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954. Mikkelsen also played in six NBA All-Star games and was placed on the All-NBA team four times. By the end of his career Mikkelsen led the league in disqualifications having been disqualified from a game 127 times out of 631 games. Disqualifications in the NBA only started being tracked after his first season.

After retiring from the NBA, Mikkelsen went on to coach the Minnesota Pipers in the ABA, who later moved to Pittsburgh and became the Pittsburgh Condors.

According to the official biography provided by Hamline, Mikkelsen was inducted into the Hamline Hall of Fame in 1963 and his number, 13, was retired. Hamline’s is not the only hall of fame Mikkelsen belongs to. Mikkelsen is a member of the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, The College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the NAIA All-Time Basketball team. Mikkelsen died on Nov. 21 of 2013 in his home in Wayzata, Minn.

Steven Lindgren was an all around athlete at Hamline from the years 1971-1975. Lindgren was a member of the Hamline football team and competed in shot put for the track team. Lindgren’s time at Hamline was quite successful having lettered all four years in football, and according to Hamline’s bio from Alumni Relations “He was twice named All-Conference, All-District and Hamline’s Most Valuable Player.” As well Lindgren was runner up for the conferences MVP his senior year. One of his most impressive feats though was being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 13th pick in the 1975 draft.

Unfortunately, in 1977, Lindgren was killed, only two years after graduation in an automobile accident. In 1981, he was inducted into the Hamline Hall of Fame and his number, 73, was retired. In his honor Hamline has established two memorial funds. One is a memorial scholarship for track athletes and the other is the Steve Lindgren Award given to a senior athlete each year.