Ward Lambert
Ward Lambert 1942.jpeg
Biographical details
Born(1888-05-28)May 28, 1888
Deadwood, Dakota Territory
DiedJanuary 20, 1958(1958-01-20) (aged 69)
Lafayette, Indiana
Playing career
c. 1910Wabash
Position(s)Guard (basketball)
Shortstop (baseball)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1912–1916Lebanon HS
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1946–1949NBL (commissioner)
Head coaching record
Overall371–152 (college basketball)
163–158–7 (college baseball)
Accomplishments and honors
Helms Athletic Foundation National (1932)
Premo-Porretta National (1932)
11× Big Ten
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1960 (profile)
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Ward Louis "Piggy" Lambert (May 28, 1888 – January 20, 1958) was an American basketball and baseball coach. He served as the head basketball coach at Purdue University during the 1916–17 season and from 1918 to 1946. Lambert was also the head baseball coach at Purdue in 1917, from 1919 to 1935, and from 1945 to 1946. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960.

Early life and playing career

Lambert was born in Deadwood, South Dakota. In 1890, Lambert and his family moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana. He played basketball and baseball at Crawfordsville High School and Wabash College, both under coach Ralph Jones, who himself went on to coach Purdue in 1909.[1] Football coach Jesse Harper took over as Lambert's basketball coach in 1910 following the departure of Ralph Jones.[2] Despite his height (5'6"), Lambert led Wabash in scoring his sophomore year—leading to his nickname "Piggy" for hogging the ball. Another telling states that, while playing baseball at Wabash, Lambert used his position as shortstop to hog the ball. He graduated from Wabash College in 1911.

Coaching career

Lambert began his coaching career at Lebanon High School from 1912 to 1916, amassing a record of 69–18 (.793) a Sectional title and 3 other post-season appearances; including a berth in the State Semi-Finals in 1913-14.[3] Lambert coached Purdue University (1916–17, 1918–1946) to a 371–152 record in 29 seasons, including 11 Big Ten Conference titles. His teams were noted for their speed and effective use of fast breaks, which he developed. Among his players were Stretch Murphy and John Wooden. Lambert missed the 1917–18 season to serve in the United States Army during World War I. Meanwhile, J. J. Maloney, an attorney from Crawfordsville, Indiana, filled in and guided the Boilermakers to an 11–5 record. Lambert's 1931–32 team finished the season with a 17–1 record[4] and was retroactively named the national champion by the Helms Athletic Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll.[5][6] He coached 16 All-Americans and 31 first team All-Big Ten selections. Lambert Fieldhouse (originally known as Purdue Fieldhouse), the facility used for home basketball games prior to the construction of Mackey Arena, was renamed in his honor.

Lambert also coached Purdue's baseball team in 1917, from 1919 to 1935, and from 1945 to 1946. Lambert Field, Purdue's former baseball stadium, is also named for Lambert.[7] He was listed as a scout for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball in 1948.[8]

Administrative career, writing, and honors

Following his retirement from Purdue, he served as Commissioner of the National Basketball League during the final three years (1946–1949) of that league's tenure and was instrumental in its merger with the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball Association.

Lambert wrote Practical Basketball in 1932, one of the first "bibles" of the game. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.


  1. ^ The Career of Ralph Jones A lesser-known Indiana coaching legend
  2. ^ Wabash College coaching records Archived November 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Lebanon High School Basketball, 1910-2010" (PDF). Lebanon Public Library.
  4. ^ "Purdue Boilermakers season-by-season results". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  5. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball – NCAA Division I Champions". Rauzulu's Street. 2004. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  6. ^ ESPN, ed. (2009). ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Men's Game. New York, NY: ESPN Books. p. 542. ISBN 978-0-345-51392-2.
  7. ^ Lambert Field (Baseball) at purduesports.com, URL accessed October 24, 2009. Archived 10/24/09
  8. ^ Spink, J.G. Taylor, ed., 1948 Official Baseball Guide and Record Book. St. Louis: The Sporting News