1959 – Around the World and Close to Home
The United States flag adds two more stars with Alaska and Hawaii becoming the 49th and 50th states, and barely a hundred miles off the Florida coast, Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba and becomes a Soviet ally. In Washington, the Alaskan Way Viaduct is completed, creating a scenic elevated highway along the Seattle waterfront, the City of Lynnwood incorporates, and the Washington Huskies go 9-1 to reach the Rose Bowl for first time in 23 years.
Rise of the Vikings
At the annual banquet celebrating the best of Washington’s footballing community, Norselander Vikings are presented the sterling silver bowl symbolizing the state league championship. Association president Bob Wylie bestows Evelyn Peterson, who together with restaurateur husband Roy Peterson owned the Norselander seafood eatery and lounge near Seattle’s waterfront, with the shimmering trophy. Peterson promptly presents the victorious Vikings players with the oversize cup, then promptly pours it full of champagne for them to partake and pass around.
It’s a festive springtime affair and the partygoers linger long into the evening. As it turns out, it’s the last call for the Norselander as longtime sponsor the following autumn Loyal Realty attaches its name to the champions, who will repeat. They supplant the lengthy string of British-flavored winners such as Buchan and Scotty's, but the Sixties will be dominated by the rising side, Seattle Hungarians.
On this night, the state brightest new star would not be found in the Norselander lounge. He would have to wait a few years, because Hungarian striker Les Mueller had only turned 16 a few days before.
Mueller, a sophomore at Ballard High School, had escaped with family and some 200,000 others from Hungary in 1956, after the Soviets had violently squashed a would-be revolution. In the fall the muscular, 212-pound Mueller would star as the punishing fullback for Ballard’s gridiron team on Fridays and on Sundays parlay his speed and power into scoring goals in bunches for the Hungarians. During the second half of the season he boasts games of four, five and six goals. That was child’s play for him.
Three years earlier, he had fought alongside his elders during the Battle of Budapest. “Yes, I helped my countrymen fight,” he later told Post-Intelligencer sports editor Royal Brougham. “I was 13 years old, but most of us boys fought the Russians.
“America, it is so much better," said Mueller. “Yes, it was hard at school for awhile. I knew not one word of English when I came here. Soccer I like very much, but also football, baseball and track and field. I am a shot putter in the spring season.”
Mueller would go on to become a junior college football All-American at Pasco’s Columbia Basin College, and later made the Denver Broncos roster and played for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League. Still, whenever the opportunity presented itself he would return to his first love, soccer, playing in the state league off and on into the mid-Seventies.