Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

September 3, 2013

Milan 1954 win part of sports history

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — MILAN – Dr. Norman Jones has a story to tell, and it will be heard as part of an upcoming documentary.

He was at the 1954 Milan-Muncie game when Milan won the state basketball championship. “I was a senior at Marion High School when Bobby Plump made his famous shot,” which won the game for Milan.

Over a year ago, “I saw an ad in Sports Illustrated that asked sports fans to send in their most meaningful sports memories and how they influenced their lives.” He sent in information about that game. About six weeks later, representatives from Endgame Entertainment, a California TV production company, contacted him.

“They said, ‘We like that movie, ‘Hoosiers,’ and we like the Milan game because it was memorable to fans’ .... Since I live near Chicago, they asked if I could get Bobby Plump up there. I said sure. He was a friend of mine.

“On June 3 of last summer, they interviewed Plump for about an hour and a half, and me for about 40 minutes. We talked about everything under the sun.”

The company is working in partnership with Sports Illustrated and HBO to create “Sport in America: Our Defining Stories.”

“There were over 170 interviews, and only 30 made the final cut .... An assistant producer assured me we’re going to be on it,” Jones reveals. “The production company has to have the final copy to HBO and Sports Illustrated by the first of October, so it should air by the first of the year.

“This is one of those documentaries that’s going to be shown over and over on HBO. It’s going to be awesome for this little town of Milan.”

The former high school counselor and coach explains why he was at that game 59 years ago: “Traditionally, senior players get tickets, so some of my buddies and I went to the final game. I had been to other state championships before, but I’m sure glad I went to that one.

“The atmosphere at the game was electric because you had this really little school and this big school against each other .... It looked like a mismatch.

“The fans were in their seats early. There wasn’t a seat to be had. There were 15,000 plus there that night, which is incredible for high school basketball. When Bobby hit the shot, a lady fainted right in front of me. I remember she had on a red dress, and I thought she had died.”

The Crystal Lake, Ill., resident also reports, “Bobby’s sister, Dottie, was at the game. She had been going to every one of his games since he was in fifth grade .... Bobby had the ball for the last few minutes of the game, but his sister got so nervous, she put her head down and missed seeing” the game-deciding shot.

Jones is excited about being on TV. “It won’t be for more than three to four minutes, but I’m shocked I got that much time.”