This is an uncanny follow up story to what we previously reported about Wilt Chamberlain coming to visit Saginaw in the summer of 1959 as told by Hank Aberman.
I was working at Wynn Caterer’s at 54th near City Line in Philadelphia to help with my college expenses. Most of the staff were college students who always set up chairs outside the entrance facing 54th street for a mid afternoon break before the evening schedule of events.
One day the topic of conversation turned to Wilt’s new contract with the Philadelphia Warriors. Wawa, one of the more outspoken guys who was a frequent teammate of mine in rec ball, immediately launched into a highly critical portrayal of Wilt calling him arrogant, lazy, and selfishly motivated.
I blew up and told him how Wilt had come to Saginaw for free at the request of his former Overbrook teacher and had let every kid in Boy’s and Girl’s side of the camp play on his team with his buddy Sonny Hill. I mentioned how he had stayed for swim and the post dinner movie and was friendly to everybody he met.
Wawa exploded, “That’s all BULL, if Wilt saw you again, he wouldn’t even know who you were!”
At that moment the invisible hand of Zeus or some other mythical force interceded proving the old adage that fact is way more interesting than fiction.
Just then a gigantic, white Cadillac convertible with the top down glided past in front of us on 54th street. Suddenly, it backed up, the horn sounded and a big, deep voice yelled ‘HANKUS!” It was Wilt.
I walked out to the car and Wilt talked to me about how he would see me at Penn’s training facility because he would be using our team trainer, Mickey McLaughlin, to keep him whole during the NBA season. We talked about the fun time he had at camp and then he drove off.
I slowly walked back to my chair and looked over to see Wawa sitting quietly looking at his knuckles and not saying a word.
Leave it to Wilt to provide the best put down, ever.