Wilt was an already-established columnist by the time I got to the News & Record in 1985. And he was an ace. He won the state Sportswriter of the Year award in 1982 and 1985 — on his way to winning the award five times. He left the News & Record in 1996 after 18 years with the paper.
Amid all the sports and teams and superstars he covered, he knew where his bread was buttered — the reader. From his last column:
“I don’t even know how to tell somebody what I do except that when you and I sit down to do what we do, we want somebody out there to care. Don’t you get the feeling that that happens – maybe not as often as we’d like, but it happens? There is nothing as wonderful as picking up the ringing phone and on the other end of the line is a reader who cried when we cried, who laughed when we laughed, who got angry with us and sometimes because of us, who got the point we were trying to make about how unimportant winning and losing at sports really is. It doesn’t get any better than that.
“And when that last column is written, I hope I still have my fastball, and that out there somewhere, some other door is about to open for a lucky old sportswriter.”
That door opened and Wilt became the sports editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times. And he wrote books. (Before he came to the N&R, he worked for the Charlotte Observer and the Atlanta Constitution.)
He joins many other notable members of the sports press in the Hall of Fame. It is a well-deserved honor.