The case for Orville Bose for the Basketball Hall of Fame
Usually when I start digging to find sports accomplishments from the past, it is just my own curiosity driving me.
But it was a while back when Orville Bose sent me an email out of the blue, asking about his basketball stats from the 1950s.
I didn’t know his interest was for a larger and much more important project — gathering facts and information to make a presentation to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
My first thought was there was virtually no way I would be able to help, much less find any information to make a case for Orville.
I was sure that I would be on a snipe hunt as game coverage was so scattered back then, often times teams would never be mentioned until the sectional.
There was a time where about a dozen high schools in Sullivan County played basketball, so it would have been a monumental chore to cover that many hoop teams as a reporter.
A concept of a sports editor and a sports section was foreign to many smaller newspapers back then.
The one thing I found out at the Sullivan County Public Library, with the aid of Donna Adams and Paula Jewell, was that Hymera High School, led by Bose, won its only sectional title in 1956. The Shakamaks, a nickname that made more sense back then than now because of Shakamak High School, were led by Bose, who scored 74 points in three sectional victories.
Hymera had just 120 students some 60-plus years ago.
Thanks to several generous women in Hymera (who I will talk about more in depth when I do a follow-up story about how this sectional is still part of Hymera some seven decades later), I ended up seeing some stories in two scrapbooks of that historic season in the Hymera Library.
I could tell some of the clippings weren’t from the Sullivan Daily Times, so my quest took me to Terre Haute.
It was there where I discovered a wealth of knowledge about Bose from the two newspapers in Terre Haute at the time. They both did a great job of covering boys basketball teams in Vigo, Clay, Greene and Sullivan counties.
It took several hours over a couple of days, but I was able to come up with several numbers for Orville. The bad part was not having access to the schedules in advance.
Hymera did not have a yearbook each year nor did any of the newspapers feature a Hymera schedule — I also did research in Jasonville and Linton depending on a particular game I was searching to find.
Needless to say I was flying blind as I started each season searching newspapers on microfilm from the first of November until the end of February. I would search the papers, hoping to find results the next day after games on Tuesday, Friday and sometimes on Saturday nights.
Because of this, the grand totals for Bose could be off by several games in his first three years, but we will get to those in a minute.
But there is no doubt about Bose’s stats during that historic senior season of 1955-56, largely due to Hymera coach Keith Dougherty, himself a member of the Hall of Fame.
Dougherty, age 91, ended up leading Elkhart to the championship game in 1971 and was inducted in the HOF in 2004.
“There’s no question about whether Orville is a Hall of Famer,” said Dougherty. “Not only for what he did while playing for me at Hymera, he also got a scholarship to play for legendary coach Tony Hinkle at Butler University.
“Twice the Bulldogs played in the NIT, which was the NCAA tournament of its day, at Madison Square Garden in New York. As a senior at Butler, Orville averaged almost 18 points per game. His career speaks for itself.”
Dougherty, who coached Bose in three of four seasons (in 1954-55 he sold encyclopedias because it paid better than coaching and teaching), had stats from Orville’s freshman and sophomore years.
Unfortunately after a cleaning project, he sent those season stats to Orville, but they were never received.
Which leads us to yours truly.
So here’s what I found, definitely unofficial.
In 1952-53, I found results for 15 Hymera games.
Bose did not play in four of those games as he was not listed in the box scores I found. Dougherty says he can’t imagine coaching a team without Bose, but.
Orville did play in 11 games, scoring 165 points for an average of 15.0 ppg. If I remember correctly, Brody Boyd of Union (Dugger), the fifth leading scorer of all-time in Indiana, averaged 15.0 points per game as a freshman.
Bose scored 20 points on Nov. 12, 1952 against Midland. That could have been his first varsity game, but unlikely as they played Coalmont, which consolidated into Shakamak, every year in the first or second game.
His last six games of his freshman season, he scored 121 points, an average of just over 20 points per game.
Bose poured in 28 points against Dugger to end the regular season and then 32 in a sectional loss to Fairbanks, the first of 17 games of 30 points or more in his career.
As a sophomore during a 7-12 1953-54 season, the Shakamaks’ box scores were not available for the first two games against Coalmont and Midland.
Bose was not listed in the box score against Honey Creek on Jan. 8, 1954.
I could find that Orville played in 16 games that season. He scored 284 points, for an average of 17.8.
He reached double figures in 12 of 16 games and tied his then career high of 28 points against Switz City — 10 field goals and eight free throws. Box scores back then only showed the number of free throws made, not attempted.
On nine different occasions that season, he scored at least 20 points, including 27 against Concannon, 26 against Clay City, 25 against Farmersburg and 24 against Dugger.
As a junior in an 8-9 1954-55 season, the 6-2 Bose started flexing his scoring muscles.
He started the season with 24 points on Nov. 2, 1954 against Graysville.
He finished his junior season by playing in all 17 games. He scored 374 points, for an average of 22 points per game.
He had his first 30-point game against Midland on Nov. 9, 1954. Bose made 11 field goals and eight free throws, giving him exactly 30.
He torched Pimento for 34 points on Jan. 11, 1955, making 16 field goals and two freebies.
Dugger, a name which keeps surfacing as being a good matchup for Bose, was victimized for 30 points (11 field goals and eight free throws) on Feb. 18.
He scored in double figures in all 17 games, with an 11-point game against Farmersburg in the sectional being his season low.
This brings us to the historic 1955-56 season. The reason I say historic is that Hymera had 120 students at the time and their gym was so small that they did not play any home games that season. They played most of them in the new gym at Coalmont.
This was an era when winning a sectional in the one-class state tournament, which featured over 700 high schools, was a very big deal.
Hymera was around for about another 10 years before it became a part of North Central High School. That was their only sectional title, some 62 years ago.
Bose had a senior season comparable to some of the greats that have ever played his game.
He played 26 games and scored 722 points. That comes up to an average of 27.8 points per game.
He made 274 of 563 field goals, a clip of .485.
He made 174 of 270 free throws, a percentage of 644.
That means he averaged over 10 free throws per game, which sounds like Michael Jordan numbers.
His rebounds as a senior also were off the charts. According to stats compiled by Dougherty, he had 480 rebounds, an average of 21.8 per game.
In 13 games, he scored 30 or more points. In 12 games, he had 20 or more rebounds.
In all 26 games he played in 1955-56, Bose had a double-double, a term never heard back then. To have a double-double, averaging 27-21 for the season, is virtually unprecedented.
After a modest 16 points and 12 rebounds against Marco to start the season, Bose had 32 points and 21 rebounds against Midland, 33 and 30 against Gill Township and 35 and 21 against Jasonville.
He just missed a 30-20 game with 36 points and 19 rebounds against Pleasantville.
He touched up Graysville for 27 points and 26 rebounds. Against Blackhawk, he made 12 of 24 field goals and was a perfect 8 of 8 at the foul line, finishing the night with 32 points and 19 rebounds.
Against Shelburn in the Wabash Valley Preliminaries, he had 30 points on 9 of 20 shooting, 12 of 13 at the foul line and grabbed 22 rebounds.
In the regular season a week later, he was 16 of 32 shooting as part of 35 points and 21 rebounds against the Panthers.
He had 20 points and 23 rebounds against Stinesville and tallied 30 points and 25 rebounds against Clay City.
In the last game of the 1955-56 regular season, Bose continued to haunt Dugger, scoring a career high 42 points on 15 of 30 shooting with 22 rebounds.
It could have been more jaw-dropping, but Bose missed 14 of 26 free throws.
He saved his best for the postseason.
To begin play at the Sullivan Sectional in February 1956, Bose made 13 of 21 shots and 5 of 8 freebies.
He finished with 31 points and 20 rebounds in a 69-48 win over Farmersburg. This avenged two losses during the season to the Plowboys, who entered the sectional as favorites with a 17-3 record.
Bose was no slouch during those losses as he combined for 51 points and 28 rebounds. But he only shot 34 percent — 17 of 50 as the Shakamaks lost 83-62 and 61-54 in the Wabash Valley Preliminaries.
In the third meeting, Bose connected on 13 of 21 — 62 percent — and made 5 of 8 free throws at the old downtown gymnasium in Sullivan.
“They were a really good team,” Bose said of Farmersburg. “I am sure that everybody would have picked them as favorites going into the sectional.
“We were a good team, but that was just our night. It turned out to be the start of something special, that changed all of our lives.”
Gill Township was next as the Shakamaks defeated the Rockets 63-41.
Bose had 23 rebounds and 25 points on 11 of 12 shooting at the foul line. He made 7 of 18 shots, the only time he was under 50 percent in the Shakamaks’ run to the regional final.
In the title game, Hymera defeated the host Golden Arrows 60-43.
Bose and his Hymera teammates defeated 25-win Plainville 63-59 in the semifinals of the Huntingburg Regional. Plainville featured Lloyd Bateman, a Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer who scored 2,078 career points.
Bose made 12 of 17 field goals and 14 of 17 free throws, finishing with 38 points to go with 24 rebounds. Bose outscored Bateman 38-21.
In the regional final, Jasper was too much for the Shakamaks, winning 86-60.
Bose hit 11 of 21 shots and 9 of 14 free throws, finishing with 31 points. He also had 13 rebounds.
The 69 points in a regional set the record for the Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium, which opened some five years earlier.
During their five postseason games, Bose was 48 of 89 shooting (54 percent) and 49 of 60 at the foul stripe (82 percent). He averaged 28.6 points and 18.4 rebounds.
His worst game of the year was against Prairie Creek, where he had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
In his career, Bose played in 70 games and scored 1,545 points, a modest number of points, which could have easily been more with a more accurate account of his first two years.
But the 22.1 points per game for his career is a very impressive average.
In closing, I would like to make a statistical comparison. As I mentioned, Bose played 26 games, scored 722 points, with a high game of 42 points and an average of 27.8 points per game as a senior.
This year’s certain Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford of New Albany had comparable numbers as a junior. Last year, he played in 27 games, scoring 776 points with a high game of 44 and averaged 28.7 points per game.
The 776 points led the state in scoring a year ago. The state has considers total points to determine a state scoring champion since 1979-80.
Bose’s 722 points is more than 14 of those scoring champs and was within a total of 23 points of having as many points as four more scoring leaders (15, 1, 5, 2).
Even though the game has changed and we are in an era where field goal percentage is much higher and rebound numbers are lower, averaging 21.8 rebounds per game for an entire season is virtually unprecedented.
The HOF is a career honor, not just one season. But Bose scored in double figures in 43 straight games, 43-for-43 in his junior and senior years.
He scored in double figures in 51 of his last 52 games.
And don’t forget his Butler numbers. Tony Hinkle was not taking just anybody that fell off the turnip truck. You had to have some game to average 17-plus points in a season at maybe the biggest Division I program in the state at the time.
As Cletus said in the movie “Hoosiers.” he talked about Jimmy Chitwood being the best player that he had ever seen in his many years of watching hoops in the great state of Indiana.
As a fan and a sports editor for some 30 years, I have been blessed to watch some of the great ones from this state play, dating back to Oscar Robertson, Billy Shepherd, Billy Keller, George McGinnis, Steve Downing, Scott Skiles to Langford just this past week, to mention a few.
To be honest, I feel cheated that I never got to see Bose play. Only the numbers and his legendary coach can speak for him.
Other than the readers of the Sullivan Daily Times, I am not sure who will be viewing my so-called presentation. I just hope that the HOF will consider the case of Orville Bose and judge him on his long overdue merits. Thanks for reading.
Stats of Orville Bose
Hymera High School
Nov. 12 — Midland, 8 FGs, 4 FTs, 20 points
Nov. 14 — Gill Township, 3 FGs, 3 FTs, 9 points
Nov. 21 — Jasonville, 1 FG, 4 FTs, 6 points
Dec. 5 — Pleasantville, 1 FG, 3 FTs, 5 points
Dec. 12 — Farmersburg, DNP
Dec. 19 — Graysville, DNP
Dec. 23 — Riley, DNP
Jan. 10 — Honey Creek, DNP
Jan. 16 — Pimento, 0 FG, 4 FTs, 4 points
Jan. 22 — *Fairbanks, 3 FGs, 4 FTs, 10 points
Jan. 23 — *Shelburn, 5 FGs, 4 FTs, 14 points
Feb. 6 — Hymera, 9 FGs, 1 FTs, 19 points
Feb. 10 — Concannon, 6 FGs, 6 FTs, 18 points
Feb. 20 — Dugger, 10 FGs, 8 FTs, 28 points
Feb. 26 — #Fairbanks, 9 FGs, 14 FTs, 32 points
Totals — 11 games, 165 points, 15.0 ppg.
*Wabash Valley Tournament at Farmersburg
Nov. 6 — Coalmont, box score unavailable
Nov. 9 — Midland, box score unavailable
Nov. 13 — Gill Township, 3 FGs, 13 FTs, 19 points
Nov. 20 — Jasonville, 5 FGs, 11 FTs, 21 points
Dec. 4 — Pleasantville, 2 FGs, 3 FTs, 7 points
Dec. 11 — Farmersburg, 10 FGs, 5 FTs, 25 points
Dec. 18 — Graysville, 3 FGs, 5 FTs, 11 points
Dec. 22 — Riley, 0 FG, 1 FT, 1 point
Jan. 8 — Honey Creek, DNP
Jan. 12 — Blackhawk, 4 FGs, 1 FT, 9 points
Jan. 15 — Pimento, 6 FGs, 8 FTs, 20 points
Jan. 20 — *Shelburn, 7 FGs, 4 FTs, 18 points
Feb. 5 — Shelburn 5 FGs, 10 FTs, 20 points
Feb. 9 — Concannon, 10 FGs, 7 FTs, 27 points
Feb. 12 — Switz City, 10 FGs, 8 FTs, 28 points
Feb. 16 — Clay City, 8 FGs, 10 FTs, 26 points
Feb. 19 — Dugger, 6 FGs, 12 FTs, 24 points
Feb. 24 — #Shelburn, 7 FGs, 7 FTs, 21 points
Feb. 26 — #Sullivan, 1 FG, 5 FTs, 7 points
Totals — 16 games, 284 points, 17.8 ppg.
*Wabash Valley Tournament at Shelburn
Nov. 2 — Graysville, 7 FGs, 10 FTs, 24 points
Nov. 5 — Coalmont, 9 FGs, 1 FTs, 19 points
Nov. 9 — Midland, 11 FGs, 8 FTs, 30 points
Nov. 12 — Gill Township, 5 FGs, 6 FTs, 16 points
Nov. 19 — Jasonville, 8 FGs, 9 FTs, 25 points
Dec. 3 — Pleasantville, 8 FGs, 0 FT, 16 points
Dec. 7 — Concannon, 10 FGs, 4 FTs, 24 points
Dec. 10 — Farmersburg, 7 FGs, 4 FTs, 18 points
Dec. 17 — Graysville, 6 FGs, 5 FTs, 17 points
Dec. 21 — Riley, 6 FGs, 4 FTs, 16 points
Jan. 7 — Honey Creek, 8 FG, 4 FTs, 20 points
Jan. 11 — Blackhawk, 10 FGs, 9 FTs, 29 points
Jan. 14 — Pimento, 16 FGs, 2 FTs, 34 points
Jan. 21 — *Farmersburg, 3 FGs, 13 FTs, 19 points
Feb. 15 — Clay City, 10 FGs, 6 FTs, 26 points
Feb. 18 — Dugger, 11 FGs, 8 FTs, 30 points
Feb. 23 — #Farmersburg, 5 FGs, 1 FT, 11 points
Totals — 17 games, 374 points, 22.0 ppg.
*Wabash Valley Tournament at Farmersburg
Marco — 8-14 FGs, 0-2 FTs, 16 points, 12 rebounds
Midland — 13-24 FGs, 6-7 FTs, 32 points, 21 rebounds
Gill Township, 15-35 FGs, 3-10 FTs, 33 points, 30 rebounds
Jasonville, 14-23 FGs, 7-10 FTs, 35 points, 21 rebounds
Fairbanks, 11-15 FGs, 5-8 FTs, 27 points, 15 rebounds
Coalmont, 10-24 FGs, 6-16 FTs, 26 points, 16 rebounds
Pleasantville, 13-25 FGs, 10-15 FTs, 36 points, 19 rebounds
Concannon, 6-18 FGs, 4-7 FTs, 16 points, 12 rebounds
Farmersburg, 9-25 FGs, 7-14 FTs, 25 points, 13 rebounds
Graysville, 11-27 FG, 5-7 FTs, 27 points, 26 rebounds
Riley, 11-22 FGs, 8-12 FTs, 30 points, 10 rebounds
Honey Creek, 9-24 FGs, 6-11 FTs, 24 points, 16 rebounds
Blackhawk, 12-24 FGs, 8-8 FTs, 32 points, 19 rebounds
Pimento, 10-22 FGs, 3-4 FTs, 23 points, 15 rebounds
*Prairie Creek, 7-17 FGs, 0-1 FTs, 14 points, 14 rebounds
*Shelburn, 9-20 FGs, 12-13 FTs, 30 points, 21 rebounds
*Farmersburg, 8-15 FGs, 10-13 FTs, 26 points, 15 rebounds
Shelburn, 16-32 FGs, 3-7 FTs, 35 points, 21 rebounds
Stinesville, 8-18 FGs, 4-8 FTs, 20 points, 23 rebounds
Clay City, 11-24 FGs, 8-11 FTs, 30 points, 25 rebounds
Dugger, 15-30 FGs, 12-26 FTs, 42 points, 22 rebounds
#Farmersburg, 13-21 FGs, 5-8 FTs, 31 points, 20 rebounds
#Gill Township, 7-18 FGs, 11-12 FTs, 25 points, 23 rebounds
#Sullivan, 5-10 FGs, 8-9 FTs, 18 points, 12 rebounds
&Plainville, 12-17 FGs, 14-17 FTs, 38 points, 24 rebounds
&Jasper, 11-21 FGs, 9-14 FTs, 31 points, 13 rebounds
Totals — 274-563 FGs (.485), 174-270 FTs (.644), 26 games, 722 points, 27.8 ppg, 480 rebounds, 21.8 rpg
*Wabash Valley Tournament
1952-53 — 11 games, 165 points, 15.0 ppg.
1953-54 — 16 games, 284 points, 17.8 ppg.
1954-55 — 17 games, 374 points, 22.0 ppg.
1955-56 — 26 games, 722 points, 27.8 ppg.
Career totals — 70 games, 1,545 points, 22.1 ppg.