The Ellettsville Journal, Wednesday, May 14, 2016 used with permission.

Lynn Houser Book Goes From
Bob Knight To Bobby Wampler


by Steve Sturgeon


From Bob Knight to Bobby WanplerLocal Hall of Fame sportswriter Lynn Houser has compiled a nostalgic collection of his favorite works, which will be published this fall.

From Bob Knight to Bobby Wampler: Stories from the Heartland includes two stories about the popular 2005 EHS graduate, who has had a lifetime of medical problems that began when he was just two-months-old.
On his Senior Night, Wampler not only played, but made history in an EHS-South Putnam JV basketball game. Houser’s award-winning article about it is featured in the book.

“A year before the McElwain kid (autistic high schooler Jason McElwain) hit a bunch of 3-pointers, Bobby Wampler was on the free throw line at Edgewood,” Houser said. “For him to swish two free throws, with the crowd almost holding its breath, was probably one of the great nights in the history of that gym. He almost sunk a couple of 3’s too. They were two-thirds of the way down.”

Also included is a lengthy feature Houser wrote a couple of weeks before the historic night about Wampler as “the loveable team manager” for the Mustangs.

“I’ve got pictures of him in the huddle with Kyle Swafford, the JV coach,” Houser said. “Bobby’s in there holding hands with the guys.

“Bobby is just such an inspiring character, when you think about all the physical challenges he’s had to overcome,” Houser added. “I’ve lost count of how many kidney transplants he’s had. He’s always upbeat and happy. As Jay Brown (former Mustang head coach) says in one of the articles, ‘I tell the kids, when you feel down because you’re in a shooting slump, look at Bobby Wampler and what he deals with day after day.’”
When asked about being in the book and on the cover with Bob Knight, Wampler said it was “a dream come true” for him.

Among other stories is also one about Edgewood’s triple overtime Class 3A Sectional basketball title game win over Owen Valley in 2005.

“I put an editor’s note in that it finally swung me over to class basketball,” Houser said. “Until then I was against it, but that was a such a great game and I’ve covered so many since then that wouldn’t have happened without class basketball.”

Legendary IU basketball coach Bob Knight is pictured on the cover with Wampler. Houser said the book was originally going to be titled, The General’s Gone and Now My Red State’s Blue.

“That was five years ago,” he chuckled. “I was the beat writer during his fall and the point man for IU basketball.”
Houser said there are about 75 articles in the book. Each one comes with an editor’s note telling the significance of the story and putting it in context.

“They go back to the 1970s, when I worked at a small Indiana daily called the Kendallville News-Sun, Houser noted. “I had two encounters with Mickey Mantle in Kendallville, Indiana. Who wouldn’t want to read about Mickey Mantle?”

Most of the stories start with his career at the Bloomington Herald-Times beginning in the mid-1980s, covering IU and high school sports.

“I was lucky to cover IU athletics during its heyday with Bob Knight, Bill Mallory, Jerry Yeagley and all those guys,” Houser said. “I was also lucky enough to cover the Colts during the Peyton Manning era, and the Pacers during the Reggie Miller era. I’ve been exceptionally blessed with the content of stories I’ve been able to cover, but also been given pretty much free rein to write features and columns as well.”

Knight’s a prominent figure in Houser’s book with four chapters dedicated to him.

“I noticed that he was a common thread through lot of my writing,” Houser said. “My career’s been tied a lot to IU sports and Bob Knight going back to my student days.”

After he was taken off the IU basketball beat, Knight wrote Houser a letter thanking him for his coverage over the years. He also sent another one after he had taken over as the coach at Texas Tech. Both are included in the book.
“When he resurfaced in Lubbock, I got to go out there and cover that story,” Houser said. “I do have a relationship with Knight, but it’s not always been seashells and balloons.”

Houser made it a point to contact Knight when he was doing the book.

“I didn’t want to just have a book show up one day with him having no knowledge of it,” Houser explained. “The only thing he said was, ‘Don’t call me Bobby, call me Bob.’ I wanted it to be ‘From Bobby Knight to Bobby Wampler’ but that’s a concession I’m willing to make to have The General’s blessing.”

Houser said after hearing about Bobby Wampler, Knight responded through former H-T Sports Editor Bob Hammel that “He sounds like a very interesting young man.”

“I’m a little closer to Bob Knight than other writers, but I’m not Bob Hammel close,” Houser smiled. “Nobody’s his confidante and friend like Bob Hammel is.”

Houser said there are about 25 photos in the book and was appreciative that the H-T allowed him to use several of theirs.

“There’s a photo of me wrestling a hog out at the Greene County Fair,” he chuckled. “There’s some really funny things in it... I hope people find the humor as I did and others did over time.”

One of Houser’s columns was about air conditioning and how it has isolated us in our own homes.
“There are some homespun humor stories, Will Rogers kind of stuff I wrote that was outside the sports pages over the years,” Houser said. “They were just folksy columns I did because I like to write.”

One of the sad stories is about Kent Poole, the actor from the movie Hoosiers who committed suicide. Poole portrayed Merle, the Hickory Husker player who said, “Let’s win one for the small schools that never made it this far.”

“I did a big thing on that,” Houser said. “That also got reprinted in Indianapolis Monthly. As I said in the book cover notes, ‘I lived it. I hope you can relive it... the laughter, the tears and the thrills.’ The subtitle is “Stories from the Heartland’ and that has a double meaning, because a lot of them are from the heart.”
Houser said he’s been thinking about doing the book for “probably about five years.”

“I’ve always been a collector and over the years I’ve saved a lot of my articles that I really liked, people liked, or won awards,” he noted. “First I just put them in a binder. I approached a few people to see if it would be of interest in book form for them. I had a couple of nibbles, but nobody really jumped at it.”

The book will be published by M.T. Publishing Company, Inc. in Evansville. It is being offered for a limited time at the special pre-publication price of $24.95 at 1-888-263-4702, or you can get it online at www.mtpublshing.com
“People can order it now and get a little bit of a discount,” Houser said. “They get a personal note from me if they do.”

Houser said his wife, Pat, has been very supportive of the book. He’s going to dedicate it to her.