Saturday, February 21, 2004

Milan 1954 remembered


A look back at 'The Miracle Men of Milan'

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Milan: The legacy of '54
Milan 1954 remembered
The stuff dreams are made of

Fact and fiction
Championship game box score
Where are they now?
Making a Milan pilgrimage, and digging deeper into the Milan story
Video: End of the 1954 championship game
Photo gallery: Milan: Past and present
As with all great stories, the story of "The Miracle Men of Milan" has not diminished one iota in the past 50 years.

"After 50 years, and all of the publicity and the movie, 'Hoosiers,' I think it might stick around a little while," says Bobby Plump, 67, flashing the same ear-to-ear grin he had as an 18-year-old after sinking "The Shot" that sunk giant Muncie Central on March 13, 1954, in the Indiana State High School Basketball Championship.

"Milan - 1954" was ultimate tale of the underdog, a 161-student school beating a 2,200-enrollment school, the sports equivalent of David slaying Goliath.

Milan's miracle arguably out-miracles even the "Miracle on Ice," the shocking hockey victory over the Soviet Union by United States' collegians at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.That upset is celebrated in the new movie, "Miracle."

It is why the basketball tale made nationally famous in the still popular movie "Hoosiers" (1986) will never die -- even though many of the high school students here are sick of hearing it...the flame-keeper for a Milan Museum is struggling to make the project happen...and efforts to revitalize the tiny town of 1,900by attracting a major industry to town have so far failed.

Today, the Milan Indians play the Muncie Central Bearcats at the Muncie Fieldhouse in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN Classic. It is yet another golden nugget that occasionally pops up, 50 years after the gold rush.

Reporter John Erardi and photographer Michael Keating went in search of more such nuggets one Saturday two weeks ago. Here is what they found.

A story about a different kind of gold rush. A story about one town's struggle to again overcome tremendous odds -- this time not to create a legend, but to live up to it. A story of why "Milan 1954" continues to have such a grip on so many of us.




MILAN: THE LEGACY OF '54
Special Section

PREP SPORTS
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Lancers' offense cools without Orr
Hard-fought win clinches GMC title for Hamilton
Thomas is named McDonald's All-American
Friday's other games
Football: Tripleheader on schedule for Paul Brown Stadium
Swimming: St. X wins team title; Browning pulls upset
Wrestling: No surprises here - Moeller puts 11 into semis
Prep sports results, schedules

BENGALS / NFL
Lewis hints starting QB job will be Palmer's
Dillon's home remains with Cincinnati - for now
Fitzgerald never doubted he could play with the big guys

REDS / BASEBALL
Mattox wants to earn his place on Reds' 25-man roster
Hudson hopeful he can pitch
Robinson ready to give Expos a few more good years
Cardinals make Pujols member of $100M club

TIPOFF PAGE
Bracket Buster does mid-majors no favors
Tipoff Page notebook
Catching up with ... Cheryl Cook

MORE COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Time for some payback
Muskies put 5-game winning streak on line
Auburn's Ellis knows UK still team to beat
RedHawks on roll, with flaws and all
Van Breda Kolff claims wrongful dismissal
UC wins without suspended Merrill

NASCAR
Newman wins pole again at 'The Rock'
Earnhardt grows weary of queries about dad

MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
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Daly's 10-under within striking distance of lead
Siler, Warren win finals at Olympic Team Trials
Sports digest

ON THE AIR
Talk radio becomes part of nation's male fabric
Sports on TV, radio