Hoosiers is based on the real-life story in the 1954 Milan High School basketball team that miraculously won the 1954 Indiana state championship. In that spirit, we will explore five of our favorite real-life Cinderella stories, including that of the “Miracle on Ice” and the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) is a volatile basketball coach with a dark past who arrives in a small, rural Indiana town to attempt to lead the high school team to victory. This group of underdogs needs all the help they can get, and no one would have ever suspected that it would come from the unlikely duo of Dale and his newly hired assistant coach, the town’s recovering alcoholic, Shooter (Dennis Hopper). Under Dale and Shooter’s guidance, the Hickory team surprises their town – and themselves – by not only becoming an unstoppable team during the basketball season, but also taking home the 1952 State Championship.
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The 1954 Milan High School Basketball Team
Before Indiana adopted the high school class basketball tournament system, teams from all sizes of schools competed against each other for that one coveted title–Indiana State Basketball Champions. In 1954 the reign of the large Indiana high schools ended when a team from Milan High School (with an enrollment of just 161) defeated the Muncie Central team (with an enrollment of 1,662). A shot taken in the last moments brought the score to Milan 32-Muncie 30. Basketball enthusiasts from all over the United States cheered for the Milan Indians and sent messages of congratulations. Thousands of fans gathered in the small town of Milan to watch as a huge parade brought the team back to town.
The 1980 Team USA Men’s Hockey Team
The story of the 1980 American men’s hockey team’s victory in the Olympics is widely known as the “Miracle on Ice.” The United States team, made up of amateur and collegiate players, defeated the Soviet team, who had won nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament since 1954. Team USA later went on to win the gold medal by winning its last match against Finland. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the “Miracle on Ice” the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century.
1980 Oakland Raiders
The 1980 season marked the 20th anniversary of the Oakland Raiders franchise. At the beginning of the season, the Raiders were working to try to improve on their 9–7 record from the 1979 season. Against all odd, the Raiders made it to the Super Bowl, and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27 to 10. They became the first wild card playoff team to win a Super Bowl. This win gave the Raiders their second Super Bowl victory.
The 2002 Anaheim Angels
In 2002, the Anaheim Angels won their very first World championship in their 41-year history. The Angels made the playoffs as the American League wild card qualifier. Despite only making it to the playoffs on a wild card, they put together a fantastic postseason run. In it, they upset the New York Yankees in the ALDS, beat the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS, and bested the San Francisco Giants in the World Series to ultimately win the title.
The 2004 Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox endured one of the longest championship droughts in baseball history, called by some the “Curse of the Bambino” after the Red Sox’s sale of Babe Ruth to the rival Yankees, an amazing 86-year gap before their sixth World Championship in 2004. With the Red Sox’s win coming only eight months after the New England Patriots victory in Super Bowl XXXVIII, the event made Boston the first city to have both a Super Bowl and a World Series winner in the same year since Pittsburgh accomplished the same feat in 1979.
Do you have a Real Life Cinderella Story?
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*I received a copy in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.