Garceau: Wilt’s 100 In Hershey With A Baltimore Twist

I was seven years old the first time I saw Wilt Chamberlain and it was sports love at first sight. My Uncle introduced me to Wilt who was then a Globetrotters in the late 50’s and I couldn’t take my eyes off the bigger than life Trotter they called “Wilt the Stilt.”

On this date 55 years ago, Chamberlain had one of the greatest games in sports history. Wilt’s Philadelphia Warriors were home away from home  at the Hershey, Pennsylvania Sports Arena against the New York Knicks. This night would be part of a season where Chamberlain would average over 50 points and nearly 26 rebounds a game, incredible!

On this cold, rainy March night the man who would average 50 a game was about to double that number. The Knicks had no answer for the 7-1 center and when 100 seemed reachable in the fourth quarter Wilts teammates made sure “The Big Dipper” got the ball. He took 63 shots on the night by quarter it was 14, 12, 16 and 21.

Despite the blowout win Wilt played the entire game but that was the norm for him, Wilt almost always played the full 48 minutes. With some over-time games, it wasn’t unusual for him to average over 48 minutes a game for an entire season.

On this record setting night in Hershey, Wilt scored on 36 of his 63 field goal attempts. Do the math, there was no 3 point basket in the 60’s so with 72 points from the field Wilt needed another 28 at the free throw line to hit the seemingly unreachable 100 points number.

Chamberlain was a horrible free throw shooter, for his career he was an ugly 51 percent from the line and he had 3 straight seasons when he clanked his way under 40 percent.  You bet it was an aberration that he was able to knock down 28 of his 32 attempts on this amazing night. Philadelphia won the game 169-147 but Wilt’s 100 was the screaming headline.

Not many saw Wilt’s 100 point night.

There was no TV or video highlights of the game and not one member of the New York press corps covered the game. The Hershey Arena’s capacity was over 8,000 but the announced crowd was listed at only 4,124. An interesting note it was part of a doubleheader with the Eagles and Baltimore Colts playing the first game. Wonder if Johnny U or Lenny Moore played in the opener and if they did how much of Wilt’s 100 did they see?

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