The small Milan team has done what many considered impossible – won the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship. Greeted as heroes, the team returns home.
Making their way to the flatbed truck stage in front of the school, each player took a turn at the microphone thanking their parents, their coaches, and their community for their support. Said Coach Wood, “Boys like these make my life a dream.”
The coach’s wife, Mary Lou Wood, added her compliment that “it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
And still it wasn’t over.
Dinner at the Milan Country Club, then an evening bonfire at Milan High School that burned late into the night. There are those who say the town is still celebrating.
A water tower painted with “State Champs 1954” stands near the railroad tracks. The gold championship trophy sits in a glass case outside the gym in a new school. The old gym was torn down long ago. Nearby is a vintage scoreboard with the final score permanently posted on it – 32-30.
It may never come again to a small Indiana town, but the Milan Miracle is the stuff from which dreams are made, the passion that drives young Hoosiers, and the rallying cry for every small school in the state.
“Sports Illustrated" named the Milan team one of the top 20 teams of the century. Indiana sports writers chose it as the No. 1 sports story in all of Indiana history.
As a fitting end to our interview, we head over to Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse and the years roll away. Even at 76, with his heart ticking on a pacemaker after bypass surgery, Bobby strides resolutely onto the hardwood floor, grasps a basketball, rolls it around in his hands and glances toward the basket.
His right arm thrusts, the ball arcs high and … You know the rest.