Sports writer Bob Hammel had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, with the skills to take advantage of his good fortune. And he couldn’t have picked a better place to be—professionally and personally—than Bloomington, Indiana. Bob Hammel & Bloomington: A 50-Year Love Affair explores how a city, a newspaper, and history intersected to propel Hammel from small-town reporter to a nationally-celebrated figure in the world of sports.
Hammel first arrived in Bloomington to study journalism at Indiana University, but left after his freshman year in 1954 to pursue an opportunity as a sports reporter for his hometown paper, the Herald-Press in Huntington, Indiana. He displayed a keen eye for judging talent in his first column on sportscaster and fellow Hoosier Chris Schenkel, who he predicted would be a rising star.
As the documentary reveals, Hammel himself was also a rising star in the world of sports journalism. Twelve years after leaving Bloomington, he would return to become the sports editor of the Herald-Times. During his long and distinguished career with the paper, he would cover the 1968 Rose Bowl, the 1972 Munich Olympics, IU’s perfect basketball season in 1976 and subsequent national championships in 1981 and 1987, and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta—his final assignment before retiring.
The people and events Hammel covered would change his life, bring him to national prominence, and enable him to become one of the most effective voices ever in promoting Bloomington to the world. Hammel’s work gave him the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with many national figures, including Mark Spitz, Lee Hamilton, Gayle Cook, Michael Koryta, Angelo Pizzo, Quinn Buckner, and Bob Knight, who are all interviewed on the program.