Alvin Attles and Hersheypark Arena

The best thing about Hershey, PA isn’t the Hershey chocolate factory or even the fact you can actually smell chocolate when you’re in the town. Nah, the best thing about Hershey is Hersheypark Arena, and notice I didn’t say the amusement park.

Hersheypark arena was the home to some of the greatest high school games in Pennsylvania basketball history, and I was lucky enough to see some of them. Sure, it was also the site of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in the NBA, but give me Reading High beating Harrisburg 30-27 in the District III title game in 1976 or Reading High beating Steelton there 65-63 in triple-overtime in 1977 any day of the week.

Those two eras of basketball came together for me thanks to Alvin Attles, the long-time Warriors executive and championship coach.

High school games at Hersheypark in the 1970s were incredible spectacles. I’m talking high school boys double-headers where 8,000-9000 would be there. You’d have the Reading’s, the York’s, the Steelton’s, the Harrisburg’s, the Hershey’s, the Chambersburg’s — some of the state’s biggest schools — and they’d bring thousands.

I used to go to Reading High games with my buddies Chris and Kevin Smith, though they weren’t brothers. As soon as Mr. Smith would park the car at the arena parking lot, Chris, Kevin and I took off running toward the front gates. It was all general admission and first-come, first-seated, so the three of us took great pride in counting how many people we passed on the way in.

We always got to games early, and one of the reasons why was that inside the arena was a small arcade — with pinball machines, some shooting gallery games, maybe one of those contraptions that tries to grab a stuffed animal with a claw. But the arcade was kind of small and tucked away. An Anomaly, really. An arcade inside a sports arena.

Still, I had forgotten all about the arcade inside Hersheypark Arena — until about 15 years ago. I was talking to Attles, who was a teammate of Chamberlain’s on that 1962 Philadelphia Warriors team. Attles was Chamberlain’s teammate on that squad and on that night.

I was asking Alvin about that day, and that game, back in March 1962. Alvin told me that he and Wilt had driven to the game together, from Philly or New York, and that they’d gotten to the arena early. They had a couple of hours to kill.

“And one thing I remember,” Alvin said. “was Wilt shooting a gun, at this arcade, like a little shooting gallery. They had pinball machines … it was a game room. And I just remember Wilt, all 7-foot-2 of him, shooting this little rifle and playing pinball before that game.”

That’s when I remembered the arcade inside Hersheypark Arena, and that I’d been inside that arcade, too. So, I thought … Wilt Chamberlain spent a couple of hours in that Hersheypark arcade before a game that would end up being legendary. Me, too. Because I played pinball there before games that were as epic to me as that 100-point game.

Hershey had a video game room. Actually, check that. It was an arcade, with pinball machines, a shooting gallery, etc.

When I was a kid double-headers at Hershey — Triple-A high school games that brought thousands of fans. I’m talking 8,000, 9-000 packed. I’d go with Chris and KEvin Smith. We’d park the car and run as fast as we could toward the entrance.

It was first-come, first-seated so we always kept track of about how many people we passed by running on the way in — thus getting better seats than them. Hershey Park also had a video-game roo, arcade, etc.

If we got to a game early enough, we’d go in and blow a couple of quarters at the arcade. I had forgotten all about that arcade until about 10 or 15 years ago, when I was talking to Alvin Attles, a basketball legend. Alvin was teammate of Wilt Chamberlain back in the day before becoming an NBA winning head coach and successful executive

Alvin was Chamberlain’s teammate


About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for the Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz can be heard on "Steiny & Guru" on 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco, from 12-3.
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