Listen to Hoosier History Live! at 11:30 a.m. each Saturday on WICR 88.7 FM. You also can listen online at the WICR website during the broadcast. And, beginning Feb. 6 you will be able to join a listening group at Bookmama's in Irvington to listen to, and discuss, the Saturday show.
This week's show
Jan. 16 - High school hoops' 100 years
On the heels of our 100th show, the sport intertwined with Indiana culture is about to celebrate a centennial. The high school basketball season will culminate with the 100th state tournament, the perfect opportunity for Hoosier History Live! to explore the chaotic and colorful early years of hoops here. With the "100 Years in 100 Days" celebration of Hoosier Hysteria under way – it will culminate with a parade in downtown Indy in March – Nelson will be joined in studio by Chris May, executive director of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, and a Hall of Famer: Ralph Taylor, an outstanding player for Washington High School's state champion team of 1965. (Ralph went on to star at Purdue, leading the Boilermakers to a Big Ten championship in 1969.)
Ralph, Chris and Nelson will explore the first basketball game ever played in Indiana. (The game in 1894, the subject of one of our History Mystery questions a while back, was played at the Crawfordsville YMCA.) We also will explore the tumultuous early days of the state tournament. The first, in 1911, came down to arch-rival teams from Crawfordsville and Lebanon. According to some accounts, the Crawfordsville players were in agony during the first half because of sabotage. In the locker room, they discovered their jock straps had been saturated with Dr. Sloan’s Liniment. Perhaps motivated by righteous anger, the Crawfordsville roared ahead in the second half to win, 24-17.
Hoops enthusiasts know basketball wasn’t invented by a Hoosier. That distinction goes to Dr. James Naismith of Massachusetts, a medical doctor and minister who used peach baskets when he set up (and drafted early rules for) a game he called "Basket Ball" at a YMCA where he was a youth instructor. Even Naismith, though, identified the Hoosier state as ideal for the sport; when he visited Indiana to attend the 1925 high school tournament, he is said to have marveled at how his "little wintertime diversion had gripped an entire state," according to an Indianapolis Star account.
The on-court dramas that have ensued since then at the state tournament have become Hoosier folklore. We easily could devote entire shows to the "Milan Miracle" of 1954 in which tiny Milan High School slew "Goliath" (Muncie Central), an astonishing upset that inspired the classic movie Hoosiers (1986). Or to the back-to-back triumphs in 1955 and '56 by Oscar Robertson and his teammates at Attucks High School, the first all African-American (and first Indianapolis) team to capture the state title.
During those Attucks victories, Ralph, our guest, was a young boy who idolized the state champs and dreamed of one day following in their sneakers. Ralph, Chris and Nelson will share details of the "100 Years in 100 Days" hoopla, which will involve a traveling exhibit – put together with the help of the Basketball Hall of Fame – that will visit high schools and towns across Indiana. The centennial celebrations are being organized by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
Today, Ralph is an Indy-based international resource adviser and president of the Hall of Fame's board. Chris, a former radio sportscaster, was not on the team during his days at Rushville High School; at 5-feet-6, he has found other ways to be immersed in the sport he loves. Nelson plans to ask his guests about the sense among some that the "golden age" of the state tournament happened about 50 years ago – and that enthusiasm has fallen dramatically because of several factors, including "class" basketball. According to Hoosiers All author Emerson Houck, the guest on our show in August 2009, in 1938 there were 787 schools entered in a single-class championship, the largest entry list ever. Today, there are slightly more than 400 high schools entered in what has become a four-class tournament. No less a legendary figure than former coach Johnny Wooden (who was a star player at Martinsville High School in the 1920s) has called class basketball "a crime against culture."
Other fun facts:
- Of the 10 largest high school gyms in the country, eight are in Indiana. (The two exceptions are in Dallas, Texas.) The largest, of course, is a stone's throw away from the Hall of fame: It's the New Castle High School Fieldhouse, which opened in 1959 and seats 9,325 spectators. Number 2 is the Wigwam in Anderson, which was spared (at least temporarily) from demolition last year; it remains in use even though the old Anderson High School, which used to be next to it, was closed more than a decade ago and subsequently burned.
- The traveling "100 Years in 100 Days" exhibit will come to Greenwood Park Mall on Jan. 23. The exhibit, which includes historic memorabilia ranging from apparel to rare photos, newspaper articles and basketballs, will be at the mall from 12 noon until 6 pm. For more details about the exhibit's schedule or the "100 Years" celebration, visit 100yearsin100days.net.
History Mystery question
For most of basketball’s early history, the balls were muddy brown in color. A famous Hoosier is credited with suggesting orange as an ideal color for a basketball.
Question: Name the famous Hoosier.
The call-in number for the correct answer is (317) 788-3314, and the prize is a pair of tickets to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concert, featuring the music of Mozart, on Saturday, Feb. 20, courtesy of the ICVA. The station requests that you not try to call in to win if you have won a prize on any WICR program within the last two months. Of course, we always do welcome general questions for the show!
Our intrepid Roadtripper correspondent, Chris Gahl of the ICVA, will share details about two upcoming winter festivals. Chris will give us the scoop about the 15th annual Winter Antique Show in Huntingburg, as well as the Chocolate Lover’s Weekend in French Lick.
Your friends in Hoosierdom,
Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Armstrong Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, tech and web director
Garry Chilluffo, online editor
Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support:
Antique Helper, Skip Sauvain of Sycamore Group Realtors, Lucas Oil and Story Inn.
Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Monomedia Inc., Indiana Humanities Council, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Drew Pastorek, and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through sponsorships and through individual tax-deductible contributions through the Indiana Humanities Council. Visit our website to learn more.
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Jan. 23 - Wayne and Kim Seybold on Winter Olympics and Hoosier links
The Vancouver Winter Olympics will kick off next month, and who better to explore Winter Olympians with Indiana connections than the brother-and-sister figure-skating duo who became the most famous of that illustrious group, even though they didn’t win a medal? Wayne and Kim Seybold certainly put their hometown of Marion in the national spotlight with their quest to compete in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, a story that involved hard luck, family sacrifices, a town that rallied to support them, and overwhelming health crises that persisted long after their heyday as Olympians.
Fans of the Seybolds will recall many of the basics, including how their family lived for years in a trailer park so their devoted parents could save money for coaches, costumes and travel expenses for Wayne and Kim as they made long daily commutes across the state for lessons. Then there were the two scares with brain tumors for Kim (officially known as Natalie, her given name); she learned of the second health crisis the day after Wayne and Kim carried the Olympic torch in Indiana as the flame passed through en route to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Beginning more than 22 years ago when the Seybolds were pursing their Olympic dream - and continuing through their post-Calgary career as touring professionals in shows with ice skating’s top names - Nelson covered their story for the Indianapolis Star and News. (Wayne and Kim are featured in his books about famous Hoosiers.)
And today? Wayne is mayor of Marion, where the Seybolds remain hometown heroes. Kim lives in the Fishers area, coaches at the Carmel Ice Skadium, married a former hockey player and is the mother of two young daughters. (The youngest was just a few months old when her mother was diagnosed with the second brain tumor.)
Known for their warm personalities, the Seybolds will join Nelson not only to explore the joys and struggles intertwined with their personal Olympic story, but also to share details about other Hoosiers who have competed in previous Winter Olympics. They include a bobsledder from tiny Wheatland in northwestern Indiana, a pairs skater who went to high school in Bloomington and captured a bronze medal in Calgary, and a bobsledder in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics who is in the U Indy Athletics Hall of Fame.
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