When doing interviews for ‘Toxic Man – The Melvin Wade Story,’ I learned that Melvin was one of the top basketball players in the region and played in the industrial league and other Philadelphia leagues against some of the legends – Wilt, Arizin, John Chaney, Marques Haynes of the Globetrotters, among others.
But, the name that kept coming up was Hal Lear. Melvin spoke of Hal like he was the chosen one. He even says he beat Lear in a one-on-one game that Sonny Hill witnessed.
Of course, I had to track down Sonny Hill to see if he’d remember. He did. Sonny said Melvin was a great player but there was no way he ever beat Hal Lear.
I happend to catch a few moments of Sonny Hill’s radio show yesterday where he was talking about Hal Lear. They were very close and Sonny had some great stories of the early days of pro basketball and the great Eastern League that many guys like himself and Lear played in.
Sonny takes credit for badgering Temple University for 40 years to get Lear’s number retired (which just happened 3 years ago), and says he made the connection to get Lear with Einstein Hospital where he ended up being an executive for 30 years.
Sonny says Lear came to Temple to study pre-med and was the smartest, most talented ball player of his day. And then there was Wilt.
Anyone who can score 745 points in a single season of college hoops and be a MVP in a tournament that you lose, he’s gotta have game. Wish I could have seen Hal Lear play.
I wonder if he came to The Cage?