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Gaildene Hamilton, star reporter of the Journal-Review reported this interesting story the day following Waynetown’s sectional win over Crawfordsville in 1970.
Waynetown—Two “criminals” and one “punk kid” (making good on a sectional tourney promise) were arrested Thursday night by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department about two miles east of Waynetown on U.S. 136. “Charges” against the trio included leading a minor astray, no proper identification and no permanent address.
The “criminals” gave their names as “Wilt Chamberlain” of San Francisco and “Bill Russell” of Boston. The youth gave his name as Phil Springer.
After checking the trio out, it was found that “Chamberlain” was none other than Bob Rogers, manager and vice president of the Waynetown Branch of the Elston Bank and Trust Co. “Russell” turned out to be Max Suitors and Phil Springer was just who he said he was — Phil Springer.
The men and boy were picked up with two “weapons” in their possession, a plastic baseball bat and a golf club, which they tried to tell authorities were being used to protect them from dogs.
Officers making the arrest were Sheriff’s Deputies Fred Lowe and Gordon Suiter.
As the questioning continued, the men tried to convince Sheriff Demoret that they were making good on a tourney promise.
After the trio had their rights read, they were fingerprinted, mugged and booked. Then they were allowed to make a call to a lawyer.
Rogers, alias Chamberlain, asked that Albert Henthorn of Waynetown be called.
“He’s not lawyer,” Demoret exclaimed.
“He’s an auctioneer, part-time lawyer, heckler and full time trouble maker,” Rogers informed the sheriff. “I have a feeling he may be behind all of this.”
During the mugging of the suspects, Lowe had some trouble. The “criminals” were in such high spirits that they didn’t look like criminals in their photos.
“To have just been arrested, they’re the happiest bunch I’ve ever seen, “ Lowe laughed.
While the Springer boy was being questioned by the sheriff, he kept rubbing his head and muttering, “But I’ve got a date tonight, and I’m gonna be late.” He finally turned to Lowe and said, “I’ve got a date tonight — and it’s with your niece.”
Lowe laughingly assured the boy that a “criminal” certainly wouldn’t be dating his niece anymore.
The high jinks were carried out in full as the three “prisoners” found themselves in jail. Springer could hear friends from Waynetown calling in to see if they had been picked up. Turnkey Merle “Bus” Miller playing the joke out to the fullest, told them that two men and a kid had been picked up and fit the description of the persons being inquired about.
After “attorney” Albert Henthorn came to the jail and secured the release of the three, they were taken back to where they had been picked up and continued their walk into Waynetown.
“We could have avoided being picked up if you guys had just done what I told you, “ Rogers told his friends. It seems that Rex Henthorn, prosecutor, had stopped the trio and talked to them earlier in the evening. Suspecting that something was up, Rogers had suggested the take to a corn field.
Rogers, who is a red-hot Waynetown fan, is a graduate of Crawfordsville High School and was a sub on the basketball team of 1945 which was the last year that Waynetown had won a sectional as they defeated CHS in the final game 29-27.
This year, it was again Waynetown and CHS in the final game with the score at the horn being Waynetown 74, CHS 69.
Rogers and Suitors who is the father of Kim Suitors who is on the Waynetown team, and Springer, brother of two Waynetown players and student manager of the team, were all wearing “Waynetown Gladiators All the Way,” signs when apprehended. They were still wearing the signs when they arrived in Waynetown at about 10:00 to be welcomed by the fire truck and happy throngs of Waynetown boosters.
Bill Boone is a local sports historian who contributes to the Journal Review.