Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

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March 8 show

Bobby Plump on Milan's triumph, 60 years later

Can you think of any moment in Hoosier history that has become better known around the world than a buzzer-beating "last shot" in March 1954?

The basketball player who led underdog Milan High School to the championship in Indiana's state tournament in 1954 - a victory that inspired the movie Hoosiers - will join Nelson in studio to share insights (and separate facts from folklore and myths) as we mark the 60th anniversary of the "Milan Miracle."

Bobby Plump cuts down the net at Indy’s Hinkle Fieldhouse after winning the 1954 state basketball championship. Image courtesy Milan 54 Museum.Although Bobby Plump has been a public figure ever since his shot went in the basket at Hinkle Fieldhouse, he and his Milan teammates have been reaping even greater attention in recent weeks because of the big anniversary. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Hoosiers screenwriter Angelo Pizzo attended a ceremony at which a ramp at Hinkle was named in Plump's honor. And the 1954 Milan state champion teammates were honored two weeks ago during a basketball game at Butler University, home of the fieldhouse. (As most longtime Indiana basketball fans know, Bobby went on to play for Butler after graduating from Milan High.)

Amid the hoopla, Bobby somehow found time to phone in to Hoosier History Live! during our recent show about the history of Attucks High School so he could comment about Oscar Robertson and other outstanding players from the days when Indiana had an all-inclusive, single-class tournament.

Speaking of phoning in: With our call-in format, this show will be an ideal opportunity for you to call and ask Bobby Plump, who is now 77, any question that has been intriguing you about the 1954 season that culminated with his game-winning shot. Thanks to that shot, Milan defeated Muncie Central High School 32-30 and made "Hoosier Hysteria" history.

Please keep in mind that Angelo Pizzo always has maintained - and Bobby frequently says - that the only aspect of the fictional Hoosiers (1986) that is lifted directly from the Milan story is "the last 18 seconds." (In other words, Bobby's last shot.) The relationship between Bobby and his real-life coach, Marvin Wood, for example, apparently was far different than the one between Jimmy Chitwood, the fictional star player in Hoosiers, and the coach played by Gene Hackman. Click here to watch video of Gene Hackman's inspirational locker room speech.

Hoosiers movie poster.For those who need a refresher: In 1954, the year "David slew Goliath" in Indiana, Milan High School in Ripley County was one of the smallest schools in the state, with about 160 students and a class of 27 seniors. Those seniors included Bobby Plump, who actually grew up in nearby Pierceville, a town smaller than Milan - so small, in fact, it didn't have a high school.

That's why, just before the buzzer sounded at the 1954 state tournament, Bobby's last shot - which Nelson describes in his book Indiana Legends as "a stunning, 15-foot jump shot he scored against seemingly invincible Muncie Central" - instantly became iconic.

After being named Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" of 1954, Bobby played hoops as a Bulldog for legendary coach Tony Hinkle at Butler. Then he played for industrial and amateur teams before become an Indianapolis-based businessman and entrepreneur.

In the 1990s, Bobby crusaded against the creation of the multi-class state basketball tournament. His restaurant Plump's Last Shot in Broad Ripple displays vintage photos and memorabilia of the "Milan Miracle."

Photos and memorabilia also are exhibited at the Milan 54-Hoosiers Museum in the town that USA Today once called "arguably the most famous small town in high school sports history." In 1954, Milan had a population of about 1,150 - but crowds totaling more than 40,000 people flocked to the town the day after the upset victory in the state tournament.

Celebrations have continued on milestone anniversaries. For the 50th anniversary in March 2004, teams from Milan and Muncie Central had a rematch game.

Unlike the fictional Hickory Huskers team in Hoosiers, the Milan team in 1954 did not exactly burst from obscurity. Bobby Plump. Image courtesy Courtesy Kelli Plump Piechocki.The year before, Bobby Plump and his fellow Milan Indians had made it to the semifinals of the state tournament. And in 1954, Milan  defeated powerhouse Attucks (when Oscar Robertson was a sophomore) to reach the Final Four. Of course, Oscar Robertson - known as the "Big O" - and his Attucks teammates would go on to capture back-to-back championships in the two years after Milan's triumph.

In terms of size, though, Milan certainly could have been considered an underdog in 1954. The tallest player on the team with Bobby Plump (5-feet-10) was Ron Truitt at 6-feet-2. Other players on the "Milan Miracle" team included Ray Craft, Gene White, Rollin Cutter and Roger Schroder. Bobby and some of the others had been playing barnyard basketball together since they were young boys. Like Bobby, Ray Craft and Rollin Cutter would go on to play at Butler for Coach Hinkle.

After graduating from Butler, Bobby played basketball with an industrial team based in Oklahoma called the Phillips 66 Oilers. In 1963, Bobby and his wife Jenine resettled in Indianapolis, where he launched a successful career in the insurance and financial planning business. They have three children - Tari, Kelli and Jonathan - and seven grandchildren.

Bobby Plump has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

History Mystery

The movie Hoosiers (1986) is set in the fictional small town of Hickory, Indiana. Its high school basketball team, the Huskers, bursts from obscurity to win the state championship in 1952. The year of the climactic tournament is just one of several deviations from real story of the Milan Indians, who won the championship in 1954.

Another deviation involves the small town team's final opponent. In real life, Milan defeated Muncie Central. In the movie, the Huskers beat a team from a different Indiana city, one that truly exists - unlike the fictional town of Hickory. In fact, the team that loses the climactic game in Hoosiers hails from a city that's larger than Muncie.

Question: What is the city?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.

The prize is a gift certificate to The Rathskeller in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to GlowGolf, the miniature golf course in downtown Indy's Circle Centre Mall.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the March 1 History Mystery for readers who did not get a chance to hear the show. The question: In March of 1982, two Hoosier women founded a business that they named in honor of one of their mothers. Although their company started modestly in the basement of one of the co-founders, it has become an international success. Still based in the Indiana city where it began, the company makes products used by millions of women every year.

Question: Name the business and the Indiana city where it is headquartered.

Answer: Vera Bradley and Fort Wayne.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer

Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant

Joan Hostetler, Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, Dana Waddell, advisors


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Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Chilluffo Photography | Indiana Authors Award | Indiana Historical Society | Indiana Landmarks | Lockerbie Pub | Lucas Oil | Story Inn | The Fountain Square Theatre Building

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgments to Monomedia, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships and individual contributions. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially. Also, see our Twitter feed and our Facebook page for regular updates.


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Thanks to the following individual contributors who either hit our "yellow button" on our website or sent us a check: Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Roz Wolen, Dana Waddell and Clay Collins, David Willkie, Jeff Swiatek, Kevin Murray, Dixie Richardson, Marion Wolen, Tom Castaldi, Sharon Butsch Freeland, Sue Hetherington, Linda Gugin, Howard Creveling, Eunice Trotter, Lorraine and Richard Vavul, Sue and Craig Thomson, Teresa Baer and Jim Wills, Jane Hodge, Paul and Billie Fouts, Steve and Sue Barnett, and Joe Young.

Your support  keeps us on the air, on the web and in your inbox! 

6th-anniversary party

Another rousing success!

The sixth anniversary party for Hoosier History Live! on Feb. 27 was yet another rousing success.

About 200 guests hailing from all corners of the state, from Fort Wayne to Jeffersonville, attended our gala, which was hosted by Indiana Landmarks at their state headquarters, the beautifully renovated Central Avenue United Methodist Church.

Hoosier History Live host Nelson Price and former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut are all smiles at the show’s 6th-anniversary soiree. Hoosier History Live photo.The party was attended by dozens of the distinguished Hoosiers who have been studio guests on the radio show during the last six years, including notables such as novelist James Alexander Thom and his wife, Dark Rain Thom; Jane “Janie” Hodge, the pioneer of children's TV programming, and Jesse Kharbanda, president of the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut spoke with great enthusiasm to our guests ("History matters!" - he proclaimed), as did Jeff Smulyan, CEO of Emmis Communications.

Hoosier History Live! wishes to thank the following performers, costumed re-enactors and others who contributed to the evening's success: Hank Fincken as Johnny Appleseed, Danny Russel as Abe Lincoln, kilted members of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis as a nod to our many programs about ethnic groups in Indiana, Shirley Judkins on the grand piano performing Indiana's Songwriter Legends, and Janet Gilray as "Ms. Melody" of Legacy Keepers and Dan Wethington of bluegrass band Cornfields & Crossroads. Photos by Frank Espich of the Indianapolis Star.

Birthday cake and mini cupcakes by Chef Maureen Dunlap, and photography by Bill Holmes.

Acknowledgments also to Garry Chilluffo, Mark Szobody, Marsh Davis, Sharon Gamble, Doris Bond, Laura Yeo, Leah Cody, Carol Simmons, Gary BraVard, Clayton Ryan, Jed Duvall, Lockerbie Pub, Richard Sullivan, Pam Fraizer, Tom Rea, Lorraine Vavul and Jeanne Blake.

More photos next week!

March 15 show

Wicked winter history with Paul Poteet

When you endure one of the most brutal winters in Hoosier history, whom do you call to put it in context?

None other than the multimedia meteorologist often dubbed "Indiana's Weatherman." Indianapolis-based forecaster, weather historian and veteran broadcast personality Paul Poteet will join Nelson in studio to share details about the wicked winter of 2013-14 and how it stacks up to previous eras when temps also hit rock bottoms and snowfalls seemed endless, including the notorious Blizzard of 1978.

Paul Poteet.As the operator of the weather site paulpoteet.com, Paul delivers forecasts on the internet and is a go-to guy for media clients ranging from newspapers such as The Indianapolis Star and The Lafayette Courier-Journal to radio stations WZPL-FM (99.5) and WQME-FM (98.7). For nearly 15 years until 2009, he was the morning news meteorologist for WRTV-Channel 6 in Indianapolis.

Known for his wit and boundless energy, Paul has been a busy man this winter, which has included 54.7 inches of snow as of Sunday evening in Indianapolis. It also included a dozen days in January and February when the temps plunged below zero.

An independent forecaster, Paul also owns Weather History Research, a business hired by insurance companies and law firms seeking historic weather data.

The snowiest winter on record in Indy was 1981-82, with a total of 58.2 inches.

And then there's the Blizzard of '78, which was the focus of our second show after Hoosier History Live! made its debut in January 2008. That blizzard, generally considered the worst in city history, involved a massive snowfall of 15.5 inches on top of more than 5 inches already on the ground. With wind chills reported at 51 degrees below zero, the blizzard paralyzed the city, stranded hundreds of people at the American Red Cross shelter and at Indianapolis International Airport and led to the activation of the Indiana National Guard - even to the use of  tanks - to rescue stranded motorists and stalled semis.

Our show, which was broadcast on the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, featured guests including a pregnant woman who went into labor at a farmhouse in Franklin Township and the director of the Red Cross shelter.

  • Listen here for Hoosier History Live! audio from our Jan. 16, 2008 show, during which former COO of the Indianapolis Red Cross Craig Widener talks about how the city opened its Red Cross Shelter to stranded Greyhound passengers.
  • Listen here to for a caller talking about being stranded at O'Malia's grocery store in Carmel.

When Paul Poteet joins Nelson, he will draw comparisons and contrasts among other wicked winter seasons.

Last week, he traveled to Alaska to cover the Iditarod in connection with one of his other gigs. With TV personality Patty Spitler (also a former Hoosier History Live! guest), Paul co-hosts Pet Pals TV, a syndicated magazine show that focuses on dogs, cats and an array of other pets.

Consider this: When Paul and Patty left for the Iditarod last week, it was colder across central Indiana (at 6 degrees) than in Alaska, where temps were in the low 20s.

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