The National Recording Registry accepts a recording of the fourth quarter of Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game.
In 2002, the Library of Congress created the National Recording Registry, and since then, hundreds of very unique recordings have been installed into the federally protected unofficial Hall of Fame of broadcasts.
This year, one of the broadcasts being inducted is of a sporting occurrence the likes of which may never be seen, or heard, again.
On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points against the New York Knicks at Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pa. The final score of the game was 169-147.
The game was not televised. At the time, the National Basketball Association took a back seat to Major League Baseball and the National Football League in terms of interest. No sportswriters from New York covered the game. There was, however, a radio broadcast of the game from Philadelphia station WCAU.
The only known preserved copy of the radio broadcast belonged to Jim Trelease, who was a student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He recorded a 3 a.m. rebroadcast of the fourth quarter as he slept, using the room’s radiator as an antennae in order to improve the broadcast sound quality. He had borrowed his girlfriend’s reel-to-reel tape recorder to make the recording.
The recording was found in 1988, 26 years after the game was played. The original game tape from the radio station was recorded over by station engineers, which was frequently done in those days to reuse the tape.
The broadcast (part of which can be heard here) is worthy of inclusion in the NRR because it tells such a unique story. The radio commentary is thrilling as Chamberlain approached the magic three-digit number.
“He knows what he is doing,’’ broadcaster Bill Campbell said. “He’s going for one-zero-zero!”
There were only 4,124 spectators at the game, but they can be heard screaming “Give it to Wilt’’ as the Warriors were trying to score. Chamberlain broke his own league scoring record of 78 points with 7:51 remaining, at which point fans started yelling for him to “Go for 100”. He scored his 100th point with 46 seconds remaining in the game, and the game was held up for nine minutes as the fans stormed the court.
The National Recording Registry does not post audio clips of its historical broadcasts on the Internet due to copyright concerns, but it does list a number of sites that have some of its most famous songs or sounds.
Other sports-related broadcasts in the NRR include a 1908 recording of the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game’’ by Edward Meeker, a broadcast of the Joe Louis-Max Schmelling boxing match from 1938 when Clem McCarthy making the call, and a broadcast of the Oct. 5, 1941 Game Four World Series game between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers with Red Barber and Bob Elson providing commentary.
Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game that season, a record that likely will never be approached, much less topped. Thanks to Joe Trelease’s girlfriend, there is a recording of the final quarter of the greatest single performance in an NBA game ever, preserved forever in the National Recording Registry.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.