UNLIKELY AND RARE AUDIO RECORDING OF 100-POINT GAME UNEARTHED IN 1994
The Tale of the Tape
On that historic night back in 1962, a University of Massachusetts college student named Jim Trelease was in his dorm room in Amherst, Mass. Remarkably, he was able to pick up the signal of the Warriors' radio station, WCAU out of Philadelphia, and listen to Bill Campbell's exclusive broadcast account of that game.
He owed it all to a propitiously located set of pipes other than Campbell's.
"There were water pipes running up the corner of my room and they served like an antenna," said Trelease, a Knick fan who said he would rather have been listening to Marty Glickman. "If I positioned my radio right, I used to get WCAU. That night I fell asleep in the middle of the game and I woke up and it was the midnight news and I heard that Chamberlain had scored 100 and they were going to rebroadcast part of the game later that evening. So I took out my old reel-to-reel tapes and I got it (the antenna) positioned just right -- and at 2 a.m. they replayed a good piece of the game and I taped it."
Shortly after that, Trelease, the play-by-play announcer for the student radio station that broadcast UMass basketball games, played his tape of the fourth quarter of Wilt's coup over his station at halftime of the Minutemen's first-round NCAA Tournament game against NYU, with permission from Campbell and WCAU. And then Trelease just filed the tape away among his teenage memoir collection in the cellar, where it stayed for almost 30 years. "It never occurred to me that the league wouldn't have a copy of it," he said.
But times were different in those simpler, pre-SportsCenter days. Tapes were not kept in a radio station's archives for the purpose of posterity -- even tapes in which a player scored 100 points. Obviously, the game -- a meaningless contest played in the Hershey, Pa., site where the Warriors played some of their home games -- was not on TV or on any other radio station than WCAU.
For nearly 25 years, the league had no audio account of the record-setting game. All Campbell could provide was a 30-second sound bite of Wilt scoring his final points. Then, in 1988, the NBA obtained a copy of a tape from a Philadelphian named Samuel B. Marcus, who used a dictaphone to record Campbell's play-by-play on the Warriors' fourth-quarter possessions.
According to league archivist Todd Caso, this tape featured the record-setting basket, but edited out were the Knicks' possessions in the final quarter.
"I guess he was a Warriors' fan and he wasn't sure if he had enough tape so he figured, 'Who cares about the Knicks' possessions?'" said Caso.
Meanwhile, in 1990, Trelease, an educational consultant and a speaker championing the importance of parents reading aloud to their kids, had an engagement at Shippensburg (Pa.) State University. At the dinner prior to the speech, Trelease found himself in conversation with Paul Serff. Serff, chair of the trustees at Shippensburg State, spent 25 years in Hershey, Pa. and was director of sports and entertainment at Hersheypark Arena -- the site of Wilt's feat -- as well as the former chair of the Hershey community archives.
"When he said something about the Hershey Historical Society, I said, 'I have a tape of the greatest sports moment in Hershey history,'" recalled Trelease. "He said, 'You have got to get me this game.' "
"My eyes lit up," said Serff, "and I said, 'I am sure the archives would love to have that and I am sure quite a few other people would, too.' He was nice enough to find the tape and send it to me."
"It was just a memento from my late teens and I thought it was far more important for Hershey to have it than for me to have it," said Trelease.
The tape, converted into a cassette, was entered into the Hershey archives and Serff didn't do anything else with his copies of it. Then, in 1994, he crossed paths with NBA commissioner David Stern at a press conference announcing the 1996 All-Star Game would be in San Antonio. Serff was active in the community and worked for the man who was then chairman of the Spurs, Robert McDermott.
"I told him about the tape and asked if he wanted a copy," said Serff. "He said, 'Absolutely. I will have someone get in touch with you.' "
The tape, which remains WCAU's property in relation to any marketing rights, went into the hands of Caso, who needed to clean it up.
"There was some problems with that recording, because about two minutes before the 100th point was scored, a horrible tone popped up on this tape," said Caso. "You could still hear it, but it wasn't very strong. I took the tape we had earlier and took it downstairs and my librarian had a mixer down there and we equalized it out. We pieced the tapes together and made one entire program."
The new master tape went out to the Warriors, now in Oakland, and Warriors Vice President of Broadcasting David McGahey made a bunch of copies that were eventually sent to every Warrior player who was there that day.
Ironically, after this long, strange scenario, now the league has the tape and Trelease doesn't.
"I sent him [Serff] the reel-to-reel and he sent me back a cassette and I went to make a copy of it for a buddy in New Jersey and the tape got eaten," said Trelease.
And now you know the rest of the story.
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