January 26, 1938: Esko’s Future Farmer’s of America basketball team beats the Harlem Globetrotters 

On this day south of Duluth in Esko, Minnesota, local schoolboys playing for the state’s first Future Farmers of America basketball team defeated the Harlem Globetrotters. Legendary Esko native-son Davis Helberg told the story best: “Esko’s FFA team—the first one in the state—had been organized in 1929 by agriculture teacher Leo Knuti…. Eligibility was open to chapter members who were not on the high school team as well as to “honorary and part-time students in agriculture.” …The old Esko gym seated about 800 people [who witnessed] the 42–41 hometown victory…. The Duluth News-Tribune described the game’s final moments: ‘The Globetrotters led by a point and they had the ball, and then they started clowning around. Time was running out, and…Les Knuti stole the ball and sank a basket from half-court right as it ended.’ Esko had trailed for three quarters before Knuti, Reynold Mattson and Marvin Davidson “began dropping baskets from all angles of the floor.” Davidson finished with eight points while Knuti, Mattson and Bill Stenman had six each.” Other members of the team, each of whom scored at least a point, included Walter Maunu, Ray Maunu, Bernie Koivisto, Harvey Mattinen, Emil Joki and Clarence Juntti.

The 1938 Esko Eskomos boys basketball team: front row, from left, are Bernie Koivisto, Fred Seikkula, trainer Bill Juntunen, H. Ray Johnson and Marvin Davidson. Back row, from left: Les Knuti, Emil Joki, Clarence Juntti, Walter Maunu, Ray Maunu, Harvey Mattinen and coach-manager Lauri Kortesmaki. (Esko Historical Society photo)