inducted February 18, 2006
Many images of Chet Forte remain to this day. Forte racing down the middle of the court, Forte going up for his virtually unstoppable jump shot, Forte leading the fast break.
But none are more vivid than a still photograph, not an action shot, but a team shot, and not just any team.
The photo is of the 1957 All-American team. University of Kansas giant Wilt Chamberlain dominates the “team”, but the person who immediately catches your eye is Chet Forte — the smallest man on the All-American team, but the best.
In 1956-57, his senior season, he scored 694 points in 24 games, a 28.9 average, and was voted college basketball’s Player of the Year, beating out the seven-foot Chamberlain and West Virginia great Hot Rod Hundley. Forte was a consensus All-America, won the Haggerty Award as the top player in the New York Metropolitan area and was All-Ivy League and All-Metropolitan. He played in a national College All-Star Game and set a scoring record with 32 points.
Forte earned All-Ivy League status in his first season of varsity eligibility (1954-55) and went on to earn All-America honors in 1955-56 and 1956-57. Forte scored 1,611 points in 65 games, averaging 24.8 points per game for his career.
In 1956-57, he set all of the Columbia scoring records, including points per game (28.9), free-throw percentage (85.2%) field goals made (235), free throws made (224) and points in a season (694). Forte still holds all but one of those records.
His one-game scoring record of 45 points, set in 1957 against Penn, stood until Buck Jenkins scored 47 against Harvard in 1991.
After a short career in minor league pro basketball, the Hackensack, N.J., native went into sports broadcasting with ABC. He gained fame as the celebrated ABC sports director who helped to launch Monday Night Football. As its first director, he earned a directing Emmy Award. He worked 25 years at ABC, and directed the network coverage of two Olympic games.
In later years, Forte became a popular radio sports talk show host on XTRA in San Diego. He passed away there May 18, 1996, at age 60.