BY AARON BREWINGTON
The subject of the upcoming WTIU and Naptown Media documentary Bob Hammel & Bloomington: A 50-Year Love Affair prefers asking questions to answering them. “I was the guy watching things happen, not the guy doing them,” says Bob Hammel, former sports editor of Bloomington’s daily newspaper, The Herald-Times.
Naptown Media producer Bob Massie disagrees, insisting that Hammel, 82, has become a story in himself. “Bob is a Bloomington legend and absolutely deserves to have his story told,” Massie says.
That story includes career highlights such as coverage of the 1967 Indiana University football team, whose season culminated in the school’s lone Rose Bowl appearance; work at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, remembered for the murder of Israeli athletes and coaches by the terrorist group Black September; and following the 1976 IU men’s basketball team, the last NCAA Division I men’s team to finish undefeated.
The documentary, available on DVD and Blu-ray disc through IU Press, details Hammel’s career told through his stories and the firsthand accounts of his most famous subjects. “They include highly respected people who are known to Bloomingtonians for their significance, telling charming, engaging stories that people haven’t heard,” Massie says.
Included in the film are former IU basketball coach Bob Knight, Hoosiers and Rudy author Angelo Pizzo, and nine-time Olympic champion swimmer
The documentary will coincide with the publication of the author’s memoir, Last Press Bus Out of Middletown (IU Press), due February 1. The two are meant to complement each other, painting a more complete picture of Hammel. “One does not tell the story of the other,” Massie says. “They are different experiences of Bob and Bloomington.”
Massie got the idea for the documentary while conducting research on a project focusing on the 1976 IU basketball season. Massie was introduced to Hammel by a mutual friend, Quinn Buckner, the team’s starting point guard. When Hammel told him he was writing his memoir, Massie had the idea for a documentary. “I didn’t particularly see a movie in my life,” Hammel says. “I was expecting them to ask me to help on someone else’s story. It was sort of an ‘excuse me?’ moment.”
Visit WTIU’s companion website,
indianapublicmedia.org/bobhammel, for more information on the documentary, including its air date.