In the late 1950s, Darlington had great success in all sports, and one of the reasons for this success was a star athlete by the name of Bob Mullen. Bob, who graduated in 1958, was just a natural born athlete, and he loved to compete...just like older brother Don, a 1957 graduate, and younger brother, John, who graduated in 1960. All three boys were tough as nails!
Bob was the starting guard on the varsity basketball team in 1957 and 1958, and during that time, with Allen Niswonger as head coach, the Indians had a record of 33-6 in regular season play. In 1957, brother Don, a senior, led the Indians in scoring with a 13.5 average, with Bob the leader in assists. Both were named to the All-County Tourney team. The Indians lost by only six points to Crawfordsville that year in the Sectional tourney.
After Don graduated, Coach Niswonger told Bob that he needed to shoot more. Well, he did and finished the year with a 20.8 points per game average . . . second highest in the county, right behind Alamo's Whitey Reath. Bob was named to both the All-County and All-Sectional teams in 1958.
Although he was a terrific basketball player, Bob's best sport was baseball. He played catcher all four years of high school, and was the team's leading hitter during both his junior and senior years . . . batting .470 and .454 respectively. Bob was a switch hitter, which confounded opposing pitchers. The Indians were undefeated in the 1956 fall season and won the county championship. They then came right back in 1957 to win both the summer and fall county championships. Bob said he admired Myron Peebles, a 1952 Darlington graduate, for his baseball skills, and as a youngster, he liked Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees. One funny incident that Bob remembered was the time Coach Niswonger told him that if he hit a triple, he would buy him a milkshake. Bob proceeded to hit the triple . . . and when he reached third base, he looked over at the coach and said, "STRAWBERRY!"
Upon graduation, following in the footsteps of his father, Rufus Mullen, Bob decided to serve his country and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, all four Mullen boys served their country . . . Don and John in the National Guard, and Dave in the U.S. Army. During his stint, while stationed in Okinawa, he was able to play baseball on the service team. One time when he was back here on leave, his old high school summer coach, Marion "Runt" Maxwell, informed him that he had arranged for Bob to try out with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bob made a great showing and impressed the Pirates scouts, even hitting a pitch out of the ballpark. They asked him to come back for the second day . . . yes, he was that good! But when he informed the scouts that he was still in the Marines, that ended his hopes of playing Major League ball.
Bob also competed in track as a hurdler, winning the low hurdles in 1957 and placing second in the county in the high hurdles the next year!
When asked what he remembered most about his high school days, Bob stated that it was always a packed gym on Friday nights. Fans had to get there early to get a seat. There were some outstanding county teams in those days, and the competition was fierce. Many of the boys he played against went on to play college ball. He was also on the first Darlington basketball team that won the County Keg during his senior year. Winning the county baseball championship three times was also one of the highlights of his career. "We always played sports whenever we could . . . evenings, weekends . . . anytime we boys could get a game going!"
Well, there you go . . . one of Darlington's finest . . . Thanks, Bob, for the great memories!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history. He writes a general column that appears in The Paper on Fridays and a local sports column on Tuesdays.