John Miley’s decades-long passion for sports led him to collect an extensive archive of historical moments. Now, the Indiana man’s vast collection of sports broadcast recordings made prior to 1972—known in the sporting world as The Miley Collection—will reside among the collections in the world’s largest library. The acquisition by the Library of Congress represents the largest and most significant collection of sports broadcasts in America.
Miley’s collection, started when he was a teenager in the 1940s, includes more than 6,000 historic radio and television broadcast recordings of pre-1972 professional and amateur sporting events in every major area of athletic competition including Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Olympic events, Indy 500 auto races, Triple Crown horse races, boxing, golf, tennis, and college football, basketball and baseball.
Miley’s recordings have been used often by radio and television networks looking to find play-by-play of an old game or event.
The archive is also an audio gallery of the great sports announcers of the 20th century. The legendary voices of the past include Mel Allen, Red Barber, Harry Caray, Dizzy Dean, Don Dunphy, Red Grange, Ernie Harwell, Ted Husing, Clem McCarthy, Lindsey Nelson, Vin Scully, Bill Stern and Bob Wolff, among many others. In addition, there are audio recordings of television programs for which the video has been lost.
“American life throughout most of the 20th century was immeasurably enriched by the radio and television broadcasts of amateur and professional sports events that had great national significance,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “Unfortunately, many of those broadcasts were never recorded or otherwise saved for posterity. With the acquisition of the John Miley Collection, the Library of Congress now will be able to ensure the archival preservation of a collection that substantially documents the historical record of the nation’s sports broadcast history prior to 1972, when sound recordings were not protected by federal copyright law.”
Now officially named the John Miley Sports Broadcast Collection, the archive of recordings spans the years 1920 to 1972 and includes some rare moments in sports history:
- The final game of the Brooklyn Dodgers on September 29, 1957 in Philadelphia with the incomparable Vin Scully at the mike
- Harold Arlin’s 1920 inaugural broadcast on KDKA in Pittsburgh
- All seven games of 1955 World Series
- Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn heavyweight championship fights in 1941 and 1946
- Sandy Koufax’s first no-hitter in 1962
- The record-breaking game in November 1966 between the Redskins and Giants in which their combined scores totaled the largest number of points ever scored in an NFL game
- A remarkably well-produced 1950 recreation of Grover Cleveland Alexander’s win over the Yankees in the seventh game of the 1926 World Series
- Ohio State and the University of Michigan in the Snow Bowl of 1950
- Jim Brown’s exploits in the 1957 Cotton Bowl
- Wilt Chamberlain’s last game at Kansas and the fourth quarter of his 100-point game as a pro
- A nearly complete collection of the Rose Bowl games since 1939
- Cecil Isbell and the college all-stars beating Sammy Baugh and his Redskins in 1938
- Blanchard and Davis performing on the gridiron in the 1940s
- Arnold Palmer winning his first professional tournament in 1955 and the Masters in 1960
- All-Star baseball games in 1934 and 1941, including multiple versions of each
- SMU and star Kyle Rote nearly upsetting the great Notre Dame team in 1949
- Legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy covering football and basketball for the University of Oklahoma in the 1940s.
The 80-year-old Miley has been collecting and recording sports broadcasts off the air since his parents bought him a wire recorder in 1947 when he was a junior at Bosse High School.
As an avid collector, he developed an extensive network of other collectors and recorders from whom he would purchase or trade recordings, amassing a uniquely extensive archive of sports broadcasts. He has been the authoritative source for sports broadcast recordings for many years and will consult with the Library regarding sports-related items in the collections.
The collection certainly has monetary value and Miley has sold his copies of broadcasts online for several years, but he was more concerned with making sure it was preserved. He’s keeping copies of the broadcasts and the what’s being sent to Washington D.C. is only part of what he has on file.
“I have been looking for years for the proper place for my collection that would not only preserve it for generations to come, but also make it available to the public,” said Miley. “I started collecting broadcasts with the idea that I would have something to do when I retired, and that would be to listen to the tons of audio that I would end up recording down through the years. It didn’t take long for me to realize that others wanted to hear this, too. I look forward to helping the Library identify other sports collectors who also want to share their collections with this venerable institution.”
The recordings will join the vast collections housed at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va. The materials will be cataloged, digitally preserved and made available to the public in the Library’s reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and eventually on its website.
The Library of Congress holds the largest collection of sound recordings in the world and has been collecting and preserving historically, culturally and aesthetically significant sound recordings in all genres for more than 85 years. The Library of Congress is also the home of the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Recording Registry, which were established by the U.S. Congress to promote awareness of the need to preserve the nation’s recording history for posterity.
You can find some historic sports broadcasts from the Miley Collection below.