It’s been 58 years since Bobby Plump hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” when tiny Milan High School won the Indiana high school boys basketball state championship.
His enthusiasm for the play and for the sport hasn’t diminished over the years. Plump shared his thoughts on the long-ago shot Monday morning in Elkhart.
As the clock was winding down in the 1954 state championship game the Milan Indians (enrollment 161 students) and the Muncie Central Bearcats (1,662 students) were tied 30-30. Plump had been holding the basketball since the :18 mark before making his move at :06.
In his 1997 book “Bobby Plump: Last Of The Small Town Heroes” he described the final shot.
“I faked left, then went right. He dropped back a pretty good distance. At the edge of the free-throw line, I found myself open.”
The shot — one he said he had hit thousands of times — went in and the Indians became part of Indiana basketball folklore and the inspiration for the 1986 movie “Hoosiers” staring Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper.
“It was a very good movie, but the only part that was factually accurate was the final :18,” the 75-year-old Plump said.
The were some similarities. Two years before the state championship Milan had fired its popular head coach Herman “Snort” Grinstead and hired 24-year-old Marvin Wood to coach the team.
“We called him Woody instead of coach since he was so close in age to us,” Plump said. “He changed our style of play from a run-run one to a more controlled game. He closed practices to the public. People wanted Woody fired because of all the changes, but after we won four of five games you couldn’t find anyone that wanted him fired.”
Plump may have hit the game-winning shot, but according to him he wasn’t the reason Milan won the state championship.