Dr. L.J. Cooke, who worked at the University of Minnesota for four decades, introduced basketball to Minneapolis.
Louis Joseph "Doc" Cooke, who was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1868, came to Minneapolis in the 1890s after accepting a position as a director with the Minneapolis YMCA.
In 1896, he became the basketball coach at the University of Minnesota. That was the beginning of a long association with the University as basketball coach and the head of the physical education department.
Cooke served as the Gophers basketball coach until 1924. He was the University's director of physical education for 16 years (from 1897 to 1913). From 1913 to 1922, he was medical examiner and director of physical education for men. From 1922 until his retirement in 1936, he was assistant director of physical education for men, director of ticket sales and a lecturer in the physical education department.
During his tenure as Gophers basketball coach, his teams went 250-135 (.649 winning percentage) and won five Big Ten titles. Three of his teams (1901-02, 1902-03 and 1918-19) went unbeaten. The 1901-02 and 1918-19 teams were named national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation. In one stretch, the Gophers won 34 consecutive games between 1901 and 1904.
He also was responsible for founding the Little Brown Jug tradition in the Gophers football series with University of Michigan. In 1903, after Wolverines coach Fielding Yost demanded the return of a water jug his team had left on Northrop Field after Michigan and the Gophers had played to a 6-6 tie, Cooke told Yost, the Wolverines would have to win it back on the football field.
Upon his death in August of 1943, he was called the "Grand Old Man of Minnesota athletics."
Minneapolis Tribune columnist George Barton said Cooke "played a vital role in moulding the characters of thousands of young men and women who attended his classes in student hygiene and physical education. He sent them into the world from the campus better fitted for their various lines of endeavor."
DR. L.J. COOKE