on display at Milan shop
(June 2001) Milan, In There are probably
many debates over what marked the top Indiana event in
Not among the people in Milan, though. Just
look at the towns water tower, which pays tribute
to the 1954 Milan High School championship basketball
This 13-man team from this small, rural town in southeastern
Indiana made history the evening of March 20, 1954, when
it upset the highly favored Muncie Central at Butler Univer-sitys
Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Artifacts, books, movies
and memories have kept alive the story of what has been
considered by many a prime example of David defeating
Goliath. Anyone who has seen the 1986 movie Hoosiers
Even today, the score rings loud here: Milan 32, Muncie
Central 30. The winning basket by Bobby Plump is the moment
that will not perish from this towns pride. An example
is the nostalgic display at the Milan Station Antiques
and Collectibles, located on State Road 101 in Milan.
The stores owner, Roselyn McKittrick, has spent
the last 30 years dreaming up a display paying tribute
to the championship team. It now sits in the middle of
her store but someday could rest in a museum across the
This was voted the number one sports story in Indiana
for the century by the Sports Writers of Indiana,
says McKittrick. Sports Illustrated voted it No.
12 for the century.
McKittricks tribute to the legendary team sits in
an obvious corner of her store. She has built lockers
that house jerseys, trophies and old basketball shoes
donated by the players themselves. Old newspaper clippings
of the era line the surrounding tables. A blackboard to
the right showcases a strategic drawing of Plumps
winning shot. A poster of Hoosiers rests right
across the room.
Not far away is an autographed basketball by NBA legend
Oscar Robertson, who played against Milan when at Crispus
Attacks High School in Indianapolis.
The appeal of this landmark event has been strong enough
to impact McKittrick, even though she is not a Milan native
and did not attend the historic game. She was living in
Washington, D.C., at the time.
These men accomplished something known worldwide,
she says. I just love the story. Most of them were
farm boys. They walked three to four miles from home but
wouldnt think anything about it because they just
wanted to play basketball.
The appeal is contagious, too. Many still recall the Cinderella
story of Milan defeating Muncie Central.
I have had people come from all over the world,
she added. People just see the name Milan and are
drawn to it just because they remember the story. Someone
once said the whole state of Indiana was rooting for the
(Milan) Indians, except for Muncie.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal, said Ken
Wendelman, a Versailles resident who played forward on
the 1954 team. We beat supposedly the best in the
state. Nobody was supposed to beat Muncie Central.
North Vernon resident Don Voss, who attended the game,
still remembers the thrill in the air that evening.
It was awesome, unbelievable, said Voss of
Milans victory. The fieldhouse was going berserk.
The players were fantastic and always will be.
You can still hear everybody yelling for Milan,
said Eleanor Nichols, who was also at the game. You
couldnt believe that sound. They couldnt believe
this little school.
McKittrick has been assisted in organizing the museum
by the Ripley County Tourism Bureau.
When the movie Hoosiers was on TV, my
phone rang off the hook for the next week, said
Lydia Woodward, director of the Ripley County Tourism
Bureau. We are in the process of buying the building
and getting a permanent structure up by 2004.
The year 2004 will mark the 50th anniversary of the state
Meanwhile, the precious antiques of Milan basketball found
in McKittricks store continue to keep their luster.
Call (812) 654-2772 for information.