Wilt Comes To Oxford

Back in the summer of 1959 Wilt Chamberlain (a.k.a. Vootie, The Big Dipper, Wilt The Stilt) came to Saginaw for the day and wowed staff and campers.  Having been a student of Bill Saverin in Junior High in Philly before going on to Overbrook High, they somehow convinced Wilt to come up and spend a day that summer.  Wilt had been on a world tour with the Harlem Globetrotters and intimidated the Russians with his incredible strength and talent.  His next career  stop would be a pro debut with the Philadelphia Warriors.

Wilt may have been the greatest athlete of his generation.  As a multi-letter star at Kansas he not only played hoop but was a high jumper and set a world decathlon record while at Kansas.  As Jerry Phillips shared with us it is remarkable that at 7′ 1″ he could high jump 6′ 8″, run the mile, the 100, and throw shot put as well.  His NBA career was astonishing playing for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the 76ers, and the Lakers where he led the league in scoring, field goal percentage, and rebounding innumerable times.  We all remember he is the only player to ever score 100 points in an NBA Game.

Wilt Passing

The game that day was between the Counselor squad that that included Hank, Mickey Rothstein, Dave Auerbach (who played for Drexel at that time), and Joel Levin and the hill waiters which included Joel Goozh, Barry Greene, and others who had adopted Wilt as waiter of the day.  In the photo above Wilt towered over Hank Aberman and Mickey Rothstein while Joel Levin wisely decided not to get involved.  That is Herbie lurking behind Wilt and campers Carl Silverman, Bruce Sklar, and Harold Cohen anticipating what is next from the bench behind.

Not sure who is Wilt is toying with in this shot but he does seem to be a threat for a take-a-way.

Wilt Out of Reach

Others have shared memories of this folkloric day at Saginaw which include Dickie Globman claiming he dunked over Wilt (as yet unconfirmed), Joe Gimbel saying Wilt lifted him up to the rim for the only dunk of his life, and a shared account of Wilt with his 9′ 6″ reach standing in the deep end of the nine foot Saginaw pool fingers rising out of the water as he walked to the shallow end.  Wilt graciously signed autographs for everyone who asked, he was a gentlemen in every regard during his visit to Saginaw.

1959-wilt-signing-autographs

For the early Saginaw Supes this day was full of lifetime memories.

Hill Court

July, 1959

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One thought on “Wilt Comes To Oxford

  1. I remember Wilt Chamberlain’s visit to Girl’s Camp where he met us on the basketball court, and, most memorably, held Uncle Lennie’s little tow-haired toddler son aloft in one upraised hand. The contrast of huge and small, blond and black, will stick in my mind forever.

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