Hill Talk: Collector Donates Famed Sports Recordings to LOC

Posted March 14, 2011 at 5:32pm

For years, private collector John Miley’s library of more than 6,000 sports broadcasting recordings was legendary among sports-history aficionados. 

He had a videotape of Sandy Koufax’s first no-hitter in 1962. He had audio or video recordings of nearly every Rose Bowl game since 1939.

Now, those coveted pieces of sports history will become a permanent part of the Library of Congress’ archives.

Miley recently announced he is donating his collection to the LOC so the recordings, many of which are the only known footage of the sporting events, would be available to researchers and the public.

“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,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said. “Unfortunately, many of those broadcasts were never recorded or otherwise saved for posterity.”

The acquisition will allow the LOC to ensure the recordings are preserved, he said.

Miley started collecting and recording games when his parents bought him a wire recorder in 1947. Ever since, he not only recorded broadcasts himself but bought others to create his collection.

Miley said he had looked for years
for a place to donate his collection where it would be preserved and shared with the public, and he finally settled on the LOC.

“I started collecting broadcasts with the idea that I would have something to do when I retired,” he said. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that others wanted to hear this too.”