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May 13, 1899: Oluf “Ole” Haugsrud is born in Superior, Wisconsin

On this day across the bay in 1889, sports promoter Oluf “Ole” Haugsrud was born in Superior, Wisconsin. Oluf attended Superior Central High School, home of the Vikings, where he was involved with sports. After failing to make the high school basketball team in 1919, he promoted a non-sanctioned team made up of other rejects who beat the Superior varsity squad after that team won the state championship. Haugsrud’s “Red Devils” then barnstormed Wisconsin taking on all challengers. In 1924 he volunteered as secretary-treasure of the Duluth Kelly Hardware football team of the fledgling NFL. Two years later he bought the team, renamed it the Duluth Eskimos, and put together an amazing squad led by Stanford All-American Ernie Nevers, who Haugsrud knew from high school. Legendary Chicago Bears coach George Hallis called the Eskimos “The greatest football team ever put together,” and NFL president Joe Carr once claimed that Haugsrud and his Eskimos “saved the NFL.” When he sold the franchise in 1928, Haugsrud received a document stating that if the NFL ever returned to Minnesota, he would be allowed an opportunity to become one of the team’s owners. In 1960 he finally had a chance to play his hand, and purchased a share of the new Minnesota franchise. The team was named the Vikings, and their uniforms would be purple and gold—the same as the Superior Central Vikings. Read more about Haugsrud here and the Duluth Eskimos here.

Oluf “Uncle Ole” Haugsrud. (Image: Duluth News Tribune)