Picture this:

It is March in 1968 and Memorial Gymnasium is full of screaming fans. The Dogs are behind one point with just seconds remaining. You are listening to the radio broadcast, and you hear this, “The Jolly Green Giant grabs the rebound and waits for Tony the Tiger and the Spark Plug to set the offense. The Bird sets a screen and the Magician cuts along the baseline. The Spark Plug hits him with a perfect pass for the score!”

Sound familiar?

Of course, it’s the golden voice we all love, our local legend, the incomparable Sam Simmermaker who had a special nickname for everyone. Sam was once asked about the most memorable games he has called in his career. By 2015, he had provided the play-by-play for over 3,500 games and nine years later, he continues to add to those numbers. With literally thousands of games to choose from, he chose one: that 1968 game against Shelbyville when the Bull Dogs won a berth to the Sweet 16.

The Columbus Bull Dog Basketball Team of 1967-68 doesn’t receive the accolades of the 1964 team – but perhaps it should. The Dogs took the Conference title that year and set records in their 18-2 season. They broke one hundred points on five separate occasions and scored 123 points in their first game of the year, breaking the old record of 117 set by that team of 1964. The 1967-68 Dogs averaged 94.05 points a game!

During the season, Indiana All Star Tom Arnholt set an individual high by scoring 50 points against Anderson. He was also the team’s leading scorer averaging 25.6 points a game. Steve Welmer and Mike Vincent were both rebounding leaders. Mike Vincent led the Dogs in shooting from the field with 55% accuracy while Tony Lanham and Steve Welmer were at 54% and 52% respectively.

Team members included Randy Allman, Joe Brooks, Loran Roberts, Tony Lanham, Mike Vincent, Steve Welmer, Mike Cota, Melbert Good, Randy Lykins, Tom Arnholt, Kirk Detty, Dave Battleson, Lynn Montgomery, and Mike Peters. They were coached by the legendary Bill Stearman.

Sadly, the Bull Dogs fell to Shortridge in the Semi-State Game, 88-77.

The Samuel P Simmermaker Journalism and Communications Scholarship was first awarded by your Bull Dog Alumni Association in 2010 shortly after the Alumni Association was organized. Since then, we have provided $1000 scholarships to fifteen very deserving Bull Dogs who planned to study Journalism or Communications in college. One of our recipients, Erika Espinoza, was part of a team of journalists from The Arizona Republic that was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

In 2024, the Simmermaker scholarship amount will be doubled to $2000.