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60 Year Anniversary Of The Milan Miracle

Posted On March 20, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

Milan's 1954 basketball team gather with their state championship trophy, held by coach Marvin Wood. Milan '54 Museum

Milan’s 1954 basketball team gather with their state championship trophy, held by coach Marvin Wood.
Milan ’54 Museum

(Milan, Ind.) – Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of an event that put Indiana basketball on the map.

On March 20, 1954, the Milan High School Indians boys basketball team defeated Muncie Central in the state championship game at Butler Fieldhouse. Milan guard Bobby Plump sank a jump shot as time expired to give Milan a 32-30 victory.

The significance of the victory – other than being the inspiration for the 1989 cinematic sports classic Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman – was the David vs. Goliath narrative made possible by Indiana’s then-single class state tournament. Milan, with an enrollment of just 162 students, was able to defeat the big-city Bearcats with players picked from an enrollment of more than 1,600.

Seen in the final shot of "Hoosiers," the old water tower painted with the town's claim to fame still stands today. Milan '54 Museum

Seen in the final shot of “Hoosiers,” the old water tower painted with the town’s claim to fame still stands today.
Milan ’54 Museum

Today, the 1954 state championship banner still hangs in the Milan High School gymnasium. The state championship trophy is encased for visitors to see in the gym lobby.

The Milan ’54 Museum in Milan immortalizes the start of the “Hoosier Hysteria” with exhibits, artifacts, and film of the legendary team. Last year with the help of various grants and gifts, the museum added the “Hoosiers” collection with props and other items from the movie.

A representative of the museum told Eagle 99.3 that they have been busy fielding interviews leading up to the 60th anniversary.

The video below shows the final minutes of the 1954 championship game, with interviews from Plump as well as teammate Ray Craft and coach Marvin Wood. Another video below shared and narrated by Ripley County historian Jack Demaree shows the team arriving back in town immediately after capturing the championship.

 

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