Thousands Welcome National Champs

Thousands Welcome National Champs

Bloomington Telephone

April 1, 1940

Thousands of townspeople and students joined Sunday afternoon in welcoming home Indiana University’s national basketball champs as Bloomington staged one of its biggest victory celebrations since Cliff Wells’ Bloomington High School boys brought back the State Net title in 1919.

From the April 1, 1940 Bloomington Telephone

A string of cars nearly a mile in length, a police escort, and a fire truck were on hand to greet the conquering heroes when they arrived at the city limits in four private cars from Indianapolis. The boys and “Big Mac” McCracken were hoisted onto the fire truck, together with the two coed yell leaders, and the huge parade of cars noisily moved down to Tenth Street and out to the University men’s gymnasium where nearly 3,000 Crimson followers, headed by the I. U. band, were waiting.The band played “Indiana, Our Indiana,” as the team members marched up the steps to the entrance of the gymnasium. In a short speech to the cheering throng, Coach McCracken said that the boys didn’t play as well Saturday night as they had in the to games against Purdue and in the contests with Ohio State and DePaul but that they had a task to do and they “went out and did it.”The nine members of the squad, Bob Dro and Chet Francis were in Georgia with the baseball team, were called on, one by one, for brief speeches, but most of the boys didn’t show the same speed and confidence as speakers as they showed on the hardwood.Captain Marvin Huffman held up the beautiful four-foot trophy, which was presented to the team for winning the National championship, for the crowd to see and then posed with McCracken and President Herman B. Wells for a picture. It was announced that each member of the team had received a gold watch and a gold basketball. “This is a glorious day for Indiana University,” said President Wells, “and it is appropriate that the National Basketball championship should return to Indiana-where it belongs.”When Paul (Curly) Armstrong stepped forward to speak, the Fort Wayne star couldn’t find words to express himself.”What did Confucious say, Curly?” came a voice from the crowd.”Aw, he talked too much-I don’t want to be like him,” replied the team’s high scorer.After a session of cheerleading, led by the I. U. yell leaders, the pep meeting was adjourned, and the fans walked off to the strains of the old Hoosier tune, “On the Banks of the Wabash.”

Tribute By An Authority

Just a few moments after Indiana’s spectacular triumph over Kansas in the finals of the N. C. A. A. tournament at Kansas City Saturday night, a tall, middle-aged man broke through the circle of Hoosier well-wishers and addressed Coach Branch McCracken:”I want to shake your hand….my name’s Naismith.””Are you any relation to the fellow who invented basketball,” asked “Big Mac.””He was my father”, the stranger replied, “and I wish he could have been here to see this game tonight. This is the greatest basketball team I have ever seen.”