As I stood in the Lebanon City Park one evening this past fall, the cold, stifling winds of the central Indiana plains whipped across the park.
I was bewildered as I had just asked someone if this is where Rick Mount used to play, and the person had no idea who I was talking about. I was confused. This is Lebanon, Indiana, and I’ve just met someone who has never heard of Rick Mount, one of the greatest legends in the history of Indiana basketball, in the city where Mount grew up and still lives.
And then I met the lady in the picture with me. Her name is Teresa K. Fisher, and everything changed … and here’s the story.
Rick Mount grew up in Lebanon and in the mid-1960s was the brightest teenage basketball star in America.
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His career is well documented — first high school athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, high school superstar, 1966 Indiana Mr. Basketball, greatest shooter ever, all-Big Ten at Purdue three years in a row and 61 points against Iowa. I mean, everyone has heard of Rick Mount. Well, not everyone.
I just assumed in the hometown of Rick Mount all I had to say was “Rick Mount” and anyone I was speaking to would know exactly who I was talking about and even have a Rick Mount story.
Well, on a cold day in October, Sandy and I drove by the Lebanon City Park, and I remembered reading how much time Mount spent there as a youngster and even later in life shooting thousands of jump shots here.
We stopped, of course, and when we got there, only two people were on the basketball courts — a father and his son, both bundled up with sweatsuits as the cold winds beat through the park. I approached the man and said hello and asked an almost ridiculous question, “Is this where Rick Mount played?” I mean, what a ridiculous question. Of course, this is where Rick Mount played. Everyone in the world knows that.
But I just happened to pick the one person in the state of Indiana who had never heard of Rick Mount. The guy responds, “I don’t know. I have no idea who that is.” He then proceeds to tell me he’s from Chicago and really didn’t know much about anyone from Lebanon.
OK, I get that he’s from Chicago, but we are standing in the middle of Lebanon, Indiana, and we are on a basketball court in the hometown of an Indiana basketball legend. Surely at some point, somewhere, someone mentioned Rick Mount’s name. I just wanted to ask, “Well, have you ever heard of Michael Jordan?” But I didn’t.
So I turn and see a park employee and thought I would give it one more chance. And this is where Teresa K. Fisher comes into the story.
She knew everything about Rick Mount. In fact, she has been working there many mornings when Mount, nearly 65 years old, would come and shoot hundreds of jump shots. And in her own words, “We would be doing our work, and here’s Rick Mount, the legend, shooting jump shots while we’re taking care of the park. We’re talking about a legend here. It was pretty cool.”
So then I tell her about the guy who just told me he had never heard of Mount. Well, Teresa about fell over. “What? Everyone’s heard of the legend,” she said. “Not everyone,” I tell her.
So to end the story, thank you, Teresa, for taking the time to talk to a stranger about an Indiana basketball legend while cold winds nearly froze us. And thank you, Sandy Barrett, for taking a picture of me with Teresa on the basketball courts where it all started for “The Legend — Rick Mount.” And thank you, man from Chicago, for being from Chicago and not from Indiana. Because had you told me you were from Lebanon, Indiana, I would have shut down Backroads Indiana.
Mike Barrett is a local resident with an interest in history. His Backroads Indiana columns appear regularly in The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].