Famous Sports Figures and Athletes from the St. Cloud Area — Our Top Ten
Central Minnesota has produced a number of high-caliber athletes that have left their marks on the sports world. Pro athletes in baseball, football and hockey as well as college football and hockey coaches are represented in our top 10 list of famous sports figures and athletes from the St. Cloud area.
Born in St. Cloud, Jim Eisenreich was a major leaguer with the Twins, Royals, Phillies, Marlins and Dodgers, playing first base, outfield and designated hitter. But it's his off-field battle with Tourette Syndrome that may be his biggest legacy. Eisenreich and his family run the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette's Syndrome.
Pro football Hall of Famer Jim Langer grew up in Royalton and played football and baseball for South Dakota State University. He played center and offensive guard for the Miami Dolphins for 10 seasons, including six Pro-Bowls and three Super Bowls. Langer finished his NFL career playing for Minnesota. After football, Langer worked in commercial banking and ran his own truck equipment business.
Since 1953, John Gagliardi has led his Johnnies at St. John's University to four national college football titles. His work in Collegeville has earned him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame and he holds the record for career coaching wins. Gagliardi is known for his unique coaching technique — no whistles, blocking sleds, tackling in practice, no required weightlifting and no practice longer than 90 minutes.
Jim Fahnhorst was born in St. Cloud, played football at the U-of-M and was drafted by the Vikings in 1982. He played for the USFL's Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers and then joined his brother on the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. The linebacker won a Superbowl ring with the 49ers.
Although he was born in St. Cloud, John Carlson grew up in Litchfield where he was a stand-out football, basketball and tennis player. He went on to play college football at Notre Dame and entered the NFL Draft in 2008. He's played for the Seattle Seahawks since 2008.
Another of the Sartell Sauers, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Kurt Sauer has played in the NHL since 2002, skating for the Mighty Ducks, the Avalanche and finally the Coyotes. He was on the 2003 Ducks team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals.
“Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey legend Herb Brooks is the father of St. Cloud State's modern-day hockey program. He's credited with helping SCSU get Division I status while he was the Huskies coach for the 1986-87 season. Brooks also was a leader in the effort to build the National Hockey Center which will undergo renovations and expansion in the coming months.