Robert L. Barnet · 1990
This speech was given at his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Bob Barnet, retired sports editor of the Muncie, Indiana, Star, is a charter member of the Indiana Association of County and District Fairs. What’s a sports writer have to do with farming?
Is it because fairs have a category for the best b.s. shoveler? Well, maybe. He’s certainly written enough and talked enough over the last half century to qualify.
But that’s not why. In spite of his prestigious, prodigious, productive work as a sports editor and writer, Bob found time to be secretary-treasurer of the fairs association and superintendent of the Indiana State Fair’s harness racing program for many years. For 25 years, Bob was track announcer at the state fair.
Bob is known by his peers at the Muncie Star as a living legend. Bob joined the Muncie Star shortly after being graduated from Muncie’s Central High School in 1929. He was sports editor from 1930 until 1982. During those 52 years, his output of articles and columns was perhaps unmatched by any Indiana writer, news or sports, As the Star’s senior sports editor since 1982, Bob has continued to write columns for the sports page and a Sunday column on topics of general interest for the editorial page.
The latter column, which he began in 1966, has proved his outstanding versatility as a writer. He has written about community issues ranging from parks to police and ecology to economics. His nostalgic columns about growing up in Muncie have been among his most popular and have generated wide interest throughout East-Central Indiana.
But most of his work has been in sports. Bob covered more than 50 consecutive Indiana high school basketball tourneys, the first in 1930 when he was only a few months out of high school, and a like number of consecutive Indiana-Purdue football games, plus several major bowl games.
His coverage record also includes more than 40 Kentucky Derby races and a similar number of Indianapolis 500-mile races in addition to numerous championship boxing matches and World Series games.
This busy man also has found time to be director of the Muncie Star’s district Golden Gloves tournament for 24 years. He is a past president of the National Golden Gloves Association which presented him its George Barton Trophy in 1964 for the greatest contribution to amateur boxing nationally.
Bob also directed the Muncie Star’s Soap Box Derby for 30 years and its youth swim meets for many years.
His honors are numerous. They include mention in a joint resolution by the Indiana General Assembly marking his 50 years as a sports editor. It reads: “He has chronicled the sports events of one-half century for the people of East-Central Indiana with a fondness and understanding that may be unparalleled in Indiana sports writing.”
Bob is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the Indiana Football Hall of Fame, He has won first places in both sports writing, feature writing and editorial writing in competitions sponsored by the Associated Press, United Press International and the Hoosier State Press Association. He also has received Ball State University’s Indiana Journalism Award.
Nine times his stories and columns have been selected for the E.P. Dutton Company anthology, “Best Sports Stories.” His column lead for the 1961 Dutton book about the Cincinnati Reds’ loss in the World Series was typical of his ability. It reads: “Crosley Field, Cincinnati – The clock struck twelve for the Cinderella Cincinnati Reds here Monday, and once again the golden coach was only a pumpkin.”
Bob co-authored with Jay McCreary the book, “Winning High School Basketball.” It was published by Prentice-Hall in 1958.
Bob is a past president of the Indiana Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association from which he received its Joe Boland Award for service to young people. He also is a recipient of the group’s Indiana Sportswriter of the Year Award. The Muncie Boys Club has honored Bob with its Horatio Alger award for community service and ethical leadership.
Muncie Star editor Larry Shores, in presenting Bob the Alger award, said of him: “We’re not here tonight to honor Bob Barnet just for his writing. It has more to do with the type of writing. It is the kind that is not afraid to sound a bit old-fashioned if it accomplishes the task of teaching the reader about virtues.”
Those are among the reasons Bob is here tonight. Bob, we welcome you into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.