Milan fan story picked up by HBO

Dr. Norm Jones

Dr. Norm Jones talks about his HBO interview at the Milan ‘54 museum.

By Mary Mattingly

The Milan ’54 Championship ball game story is getting more recognition, and this time from a fan’s perspective.

Dr. Norm Jones saw an ad in Sports Illustrated asking for people to share their most significant, memorable sports event. A starting Marion High School and Ball State University player, he knew immediately what it would be: the 1954 Milan vs. Muncie Central game. As a senior on an Indianapolis high school team, he and his teammates were given tickets to the championship game. “I’m sure glad I went to that one!” He never forgot being there and seeing the famous game-winning shot by Bobby Plump. “The lady right in front of me passed out. I’ll never forget it. She had on a red dress and I thought she had died.”

Jones, a retired educator and coach of 32 years, responded and Sports Illustrated liked his description so much they sent a TV crew to interview him for several hours. Jones was told his interview, one of 170, made the cut for the HBO documentary about in America’s defining sports stories. Jones was in Milan recently at the ’54 museum to spread the word about the documentary and his favorite sports experience. He’s a big fan of the Milan team, saw the movie “Hoosiers” almost 10 times, and was at the museum dedication this summer. “This is one of those documentaries that will be shown over and over on HBO. It will be awesome for this little town of Milan,” he said.

Jones is a huge fan of Hoosier basketball. He knows stats and records, and he knew Plump would commit to an interview with HBO as well. “Bobby was a great player,” he added, mentioning his scoring record at Butler and 17 straight free throws in a game against Evansville that still holds. He mentioned that Plump also had a game-winning shot at the Indiana vs. Kentucky all-star game. Jones had looked at Butler himself to play, but because Plump, named Mr. Indiana Basketball at the time, and Milan’s Ray Craft had committed, he didn’t think his chances were as good. He walked on at Ball State, and out of 200, snagged one of the two walk on scholarships. He ended up being a starter for the team.

His “claim to fame” he likes to say though is through the Milan story. He tells the story that he made the jump shot at Marion High School to beat Frankfort, just one of two teams to beat the state champion Milan that year.

But the HBO story isn’t about him, it’s about the fans of famous sports moments. He describes the atmosphere that day at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse as “electric.” Over 15,000 fans filled every seat, and arrived early to watch the warm-up with the big guys from Muncie. Many didn’t think the little Milan team had much of a chance. Some Milan residents were so excited during the game they almost got sick. Bobby’s sister, Dottie, who had practically raised him and never missed a game, actually didn’t see the shot because she was so nervous she put her head below the seat, Jones learned.

He has been told the HBO documentary that he interviewed for last June will be aired early in 2014. The interview was 90 minutes long, but was told his part was edited to three or four minutes. Plump was interviewed too, and the game winning shot will be featured. Jones is tickled about the whole story. “I’m trying to keep this alive as long as possible.” The documentary, called “Sport in America: Our Defining Stories” should be aired world-wide. He doesn’t know what else is on it, other than a Mike Tyson experience and a fan who saw Hank Aaron’ 775th home run. Out of the 170 interviews, they chose just 30 to include.

Roselyn McKittrick, the museum’s biggest cheerleader and founding member, is excited too. While they have had visitors from seven countries and all the states, more exposure is always good. “It’s all from the story these boys created,” she says with pride.
Jones also left behind copies of his sports inspirational book, “Growing up in Indiana.” Released in 2005, and on, it’s the fourth one he’s written. But it’s the documentary he’s pushing.“I think it will be shown all over the world.”
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Jim Tyson grants given out at party

Versailles is invited to a birthday party Saturday.

“Uncle Jim” Tyson’s birthday will be celebrated Saturday with the disbursement of funds from the Tyson Fund. James Henry Tyson was born Sept. 14, 1856, the son of William and Eliza Tyson of Versailles. He grew up and worked in Osgood and Versailles, but left and became a founding member of the Walgreen Co. He donated thousands of shares of the stock which established the Tyson Fund. The Tyson funds have helped Versailles in many ways, from the water works, the library, the Tyson Temple Methodist Church, fire department, schools and other non-profit organizations.

The public is invited Saturday to the party, and anyone who is a resident of Versailles may vote on the applicants for grants. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are expected to be awarded.

Entertainment and refreshments will be provided. The party takes place in the basement of the Tyson Library at 7 p.m. Jim Tyson died on Nov. 1, 1941, but his legacy lives on through the Tyson Fund.


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