Although Tom Marshall’s 15 minutes of fame came about 30 years ago, the former high school football and basketball official can relive it whenever he wants just by watching the movies “Hoosiers” and “Eight Men Out.”
“I had speaking parts in both of them. I officiated the sectional championship game in ‘Hoosiers,’ and I yelled, ‘Foul ball!’ twice in ‘Eight Men Out.’
“I’ve got six DVDs of ‘Hoosiers’ and two of ‘Eight Men Out’ and the book, which the entire cast signed.”
Marshall will once again relive that notoriety when the 30th anniversary of “Hoosiers” is celebrated this weekend in Knightstown. He and his wife, Carol, will watch the movie at 8 p.m. Friday at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown. Admission is free.
Starring Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, the film tells the story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship. It is loosely based on the Milan team that won the 1954 title.
“I had a blast doing ‘Hoosiers,’ ” Marshall said. “How often do you get to meet and work with movie stars? During lunch one day Dennis Hopper walked up to our table asked if he could eat with us. We were buddies after that.”
The reunion will also feature an autograph session from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, when many players from the Hickory team, including Buddy, Jimmy, Everette and Ollie, are expected to be on hand. It’s not known if Hackman will make an appearance. A catered dinner will be served in the evening for $50. Tickets are $50 per person and can be reserved by calling 1-800-668-1895.
Marshall, a 1962 graduate of Manual High School who retired from Eli Lilly and Co. in 2011, got his parts in both movies by responding to ads for movie extras. He has earned about $2,200 from the films and occasionally receives a residual check from being in “Eight Men Out,” some of which was filmed at Victory Field on West 16th Street.
The movie, starring John Sayles, John Cusack and Charlie Sheen, was a dramatization in which six members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series.
“Those were Charlie’s good days. He wasn’t drinking that much then,” Marshall said of the filming. “Charlie was a good baseball player in his day. He got a scholarship to attend Michigan State University.”
Reflecting on his days as an official, Marshall said he preferred doing football games. “The elements didn’t bother me. I liked the rain, sleet and snow. I refereed three games at the RCA Dome ... that was the closest I got to the NFL.”
Knee problems forced him to quit officiating basketball in 1992 and football in 1998. “The wooden courts were really hard on my knees. My knees handled the grass football fields a little better.”
Once he hung up his black-and-white striped shirts for good, that allowed him and his wife more time to transform their backyard into a certified wildlife habitat, which has attracted many of God’s creatures, including birds, rabbits, raccoons, hawks, a peregrine falcon and squirrels, which eat peanuts out of Carol’s hand.
Carol’s love of nature carried over to her job at the Indianapolis Zoo, where she monitored all life support systems until retiring in 2006.
That same love abounds at the Marshalls’ home in Banta Trails, where Carol once raised a sparrow that she found pecking out of its egg after the egg had been blown out of its nest. Rocky lived to be 13 years, 7 months, which is believed to be a record for a sparrow.
The couple’s fondness of birds is evidenced by them setting aside one of their rooms for the free flight of Jessie, a cockatiel, and Boppers, a rescued mourning dove. Other pets are Bella the Yorkshire terrier and Boo-Boo the cat.
Tom said his wife wouldn’t harm a fly. “She won’t a kill a bug. She will catch it and take it outside.”
The Marshalls were married in 1989. “I met Tom at a bad time in my life,” Carol said. “He turned all that around. Sometimes I think he’s an angel who has come into my life wearing the disguise of an ordinary person living an ordinary life.”