Ralph Hamilton

Indiana Basketball Ralph Hamilton
(Photo: Indiana Archives)

(Contributor: David Schell)

Ralph Hamilton Biography

Ralph Hamilton was a basketball player from Fort Wayne, Indiana who played for the Hoosiers from 1941-1943, and then again from 1946-1947. Between his junior and senior season, he left Indiana University to enlist as a soldier in World War II. During his senior year, he led the team in scoring, receiving First Team All-Big Ten Conference as well as First Team All-American awards. Hamilton died in 1983 at 61 years old, just shy of his 62nd birthday.

  • Name: Ralph Albert Hamilton
  • Position: Guard/Forward
  • Nationality: USA
  • Birthday: June 10, 1921
  • Age: 61 years old
  • Died: June 5th, 1983
  • Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • High School: Fort Wayne South (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  • Height: 6’1″ (185 cm)
  • Weight: 188 lb (85 kg)
  • Seasons: 3 (1941-1942, 1942-1943, 1946-1947)
  • Jersey: #5, #41, #17
  • BAA Draft: 1947 / Undrafted

Awards and Accolades

  • Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (Inducted: 1991)
  • Indiana’s Most Valuable Player: 1947
  • All-Big Ten First Team: 1947
  • All-American: 1947

Ralph Hamilton Seasons at Indiana University

1941-1942 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (4th Season)
15-6 (10-5 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten

1942-1943 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (5th Season)
18-2 (11-2 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten

1946-1947 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (6th Season)
20-3 (9-3 Big Ten)
🥉 3rd Place Big Nine

Ralph Hamilton High School Career

Ralph Hamilton was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He played basketball for Fort Wayne South High School. During his time at Fort Wayne South, he broke the tournament scoring record in 1940, on his way to an area tournament’s Final Four. He was named all-city and to every all-tournament team that year.

Ralph Hamilton was eventually recruited by Coach Branch McCracken, and he would play under the young and upcoming coach who won the national championship in 1940. Hamilton enrolled at Indiana University in 1940.

(Photo: Indiana University Basketball Encyclopedia)

Ralph Hamilton’s Career at Indiana University

Photo: IU Athletics

Hamilton began playing for the Hoosiers his sophomore year in 1941, and had an immediate effect on a team that had recently lost five of its top seven scorers. He quickly rose to become one of the top five leading scorers, averaging 6.4 PPG.

By the end of his junior year was averaging 12.4 PPG, leading the Hoosiers in scoring and establishing himself as a team leader. In the 1942-1943 season, he also set Indiana’s single-game scoring record with 31 points against Iowa, leading his team to a decisive win, 71-55. This was the first time a team scored 70 points in a Big Ten game. Hamilton was placed on the Coaches All-Big Ten second team at the end of the season.

After the 1942-1943 season, Ralph Hamilton – along with many others from the Indiana University basketball team – would enlist in World War II, thus putting their Hoosier career on hiatus.

While serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Hamilton played three years of basketball for his unit. In his third year, he scored nearly 1,000 points for the Army Service Depot team in Atlanta, Georgia playing the center position.

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Photo: Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

Hamilton returned to IU for the 1946-1947 season as a 25-year-old senior. As soon as he arrived he picked up where he left off: as the Hoosiers’ leading scorer. Hamilton played as team captain his senior year, leading them through a rocky schedule to finish the season as second in the Big Ten. This was Branch McCracken’s sixth second-place finish in six years. Hamilton graduated from IU as the team’s all-time leading scorer with 632 points. Hamilton would holder that record for a total of 9 years after setting the new career high.

Ralph Hamilton featured in the Indianapolis Star (1947)

Ralph Hamilton’s Career after Indiana University

Ralph Hamilton in 1948

After graduating from IU, Hamilton entered the BAA (Basketball Association of America) draft, but went undrafted. He went on to play for the Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBL for a year, before being traded to the Indianapolis Jets of the NBL (National Basketball League) in December of 1948.

Ralph Hamilton then played a year for the Kansas City Hi-Spots in the newly formed National Professional Basketball League. The team folded before the 1951 season could end, recording four wins and nineteen losses. Hamilton averaged 7.3 PPG this season.

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