Dad drives wrong way; Jim Marshall feels his pain

by Michael Dougherty

Two men — one an ex-policeman and current employee of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the other a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and record holder for consecutive games played and fumble recoveries — are tied together by comparable embarrassing moments.
Don Klaviter, father of Gophers softball pitcher Steph Klaviter, and ex-Vikings great Jim Marshall both admit to feeling the pain of the infamous wrong-way antics they will always be remembered for.
Marshall’s ass-backward feat occurred in a 1964 game against the San Francisco 49ers, when the defensive end picked up a fumble and ran it the wrong way for a 49er safety.
Klaviter, meanwhile, committed a similar wrong-way meander on a road trip to Fresno, Calif., to watch his daughter in the NCAA tournament.
After two Gophers tourney wins on May 15, many of the Minnesota faithful went out to Chevy’s restaurant in Fresno for some food.
The Gophers contingent, which numbered more than 20, whooped and hollered as the employees of Chevy’s handed out sombreros to the rowdy group.
When everyone left the restaurant, Klaviter pulled up to the left turn light and waited for his arrow. Just then, a reporter slid in next to Klaviter’s rental hot rod and noticed the ex-policeman motioning for some sort of drag race.
When the light turned green and the rubber burned, the reporter witnessed a turn of events which would have made Marshall proud.
Klaviter, who denied rumors he was kicked off the police force for excessive wrong way trips, headed north in the southbound lane of busy Barstone Avenue.
Bill and Pat Bennett, parents of outfielder Michelle Bennett, were in the backseat of the speeding lunatic’s vehicle when he Xeroxed Marshall’s antics.
“I yelled at Don that he was turning too soon because he was heading right for the median,” Bill Bennett said. “It was so funny and we were all laughing so damn hard.”
Klaviter, in keeping up his law enforcement manner, tried to explain the misdirected turn by blaming it on the intersection set-up, but Pat Bennett said she knows the truth.
“He couldn’t see because of that big Chevy’s sombrero,” she said.
Klaviter, in attempt to save face, tried to deflect the criticism of the wrong turn, adding he would like to be known for all of the right turns he has made, instead of the infamous wrong one.
Marshall said he knows how Klaviter feels, adding he feels sympathy for the scofflaw.
“Well, people never remember the good stuff that you do,” Marshall said. “They only remember the mistakes. I guess those are the things that stand out.”
Steph Klaviter said she has always thought of her dad as a good driver, adding that it is her mother Sharon who usually goes the wrong way. Consequently, she said she worries about the genetic predisposition that could hamper her.
“I guess I’m doomed,” she said. “But I’ve never gone the wrong way before yet — not that I haven’t done it on purpose.”
But it was the way the elder Klaviter tried to get out of the debacle that left some heads shaking.
Bill Bennett, playing Bo Duke to Klaviter’s Luke Duke, said he told the daredevil how to escape.
“I told him to do a U-turn right there,” he said. “The fuzz will never be able to catch us.”
So, with the ease of Rosco P. Coltrane, Klaviter hammered out the U-turn and fled the scene.
Marshall was asked what kind of advice he can give to Klaviter.
“I think you just have to accept that you’re in that situation because you have to be a good sport about it and just go with the flow,” he said.
Fortunately for all concerned, Klaviter finally figured out how to go with the correct traffic flow, and police interaction was avoided.

— This article contains real sources.