MINNEAPOLIS -- Rod Trongard, a Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Famer, died Thursday. He was 72 and had been suffering from cancer.
Trongard retired from a 53-year career in broadcasting last month and moved to an assisted-living center after his liver cancer returned following several months in remission. He died in a Twin Cities hospice. He was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in October 2003.
Trongard began his career in 1953 at KXRA in Alexandria and worked for several stations around Minnesota. In 1959, be became news director at WLOL in the Twin Cities, where he did play-by-play of Minneapolis Lakers and Minnesota Muskies basketball, as well as Gopher basketball and football.
He joined KSTP-AM in 1968, where he broadcast Minnesota Pipers basketball, produced Vikings football and North Stars hockey broadcasts, and did player and coach interviews. He also hosted Gopher football coach Cal Stoll's show on KSTP-TV.
Trongard also worked for many years as a ringside announcer for pro wrestling. He was at ringside at Madison Square Garden in the 1980s one time when the late Andre the Giant was on the card -- all 7-foot-4, 500 pounds of him. It seems Andre became enraged upon being disqualified, lumbered out of the ring, went over to Trongard's table, and clubbed him on the head.
Trongard said the mugging wasn't in the script and just chalked it up to a wrestler's ad lib gone awry.
Trongard joined KEEZ Mankato, Minn., in 1982 and moved to KTOE/KDOG in Mankato in 1993, where he broadcast sports until he retired. He was also a longtime announcer for Mankato East High School track, football and basketball.
KTOE broadcaster Barry Wortel said Trongard had an unqualified love for his job and particularly reveled in covering the Vikings' training camp in Mankato each year.
"He was a pro. He had the pipes," Wortel said. "He made Mankato radio better; he made us all better."
Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mankato, with visitation one hour before the service. There also will be visitation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Landkamer Johnson Bowman funeral home in Mankato.
On the Net:
Pavek Museum Broadcasting Hall of Fame page on Trongard: