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Lambert, Piggy, 1888-1958



  • Existence: May 28, 1888 - January 20, 1958

Biographical Information

Ward L. "Piggy" Lambert was born on May 28, 1888, in Deadwood, in the Dakota Territory (South Dakota became a state the following year). He grew up in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Lambert graduated from Wabash College in 1911 and completed post-graduate work in chemistry at the University of Minnesota. He taught chemistry and coached athletics at Lebanon High Schhool in Indiana until being hired by Purdue in 1916.

Lambert coached Purdue basketball from 1916-17 and 1918-1946. During the 1917-1918 season he served in the Army Field Artillery during World War One. Lambert also coached the Purdue baseball team for the 1917, 1919-1935, and 1945-1946 seasons.

Lambert retired from coaching in 1946 after the end of World War Two. He served as Commissioner of the National Professional Basketball League from 1946-1949. The 1948 Official Baseball Guide and Record Book listed Lambert as a scout for the New York Yankees.

Under Lambert's leadership, Purdue's basketball team won 11 Big Ten Conference titles. Lambert was widely respected as a ground-breaking coach, pioneering the "fast break" and "big man" tactics. He published on basketball coaching and techniques, including the book "Practical Basketball" in 1932. Lambert was known for coaching Ray Eddy, John Wooden, and Charles "Stretch" Murphy at Purdue, among other successful players.

Lambert married Grace Ward in 1928. He preceded her in death on January 20, 1958.

Lambert was named outstanding basketball coach in the United States in 1945 and was later named to the Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. He was also inducted in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.


"Piggy Lambert, Coaching Great, Dies," Purdue Exponent, 21 January 1958.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Lambert Field House and Gymnasium records

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 61, Placement: 03
Identifier: UA 134
Scope and Contents The Lambert Field House and Gymnasium records contain open house information pamphlets from the building's dedication ceremony.
Dates: January 15, 1938

Collection on Piggy Lambert

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 27, Placement: 07
Identifier: MSF 215
Scope and Contents Materials related to Coach Piggy Lambert include a letter to boosters seeking donations to celebrate Lambert's 25 year anniversary at Purdue; a news clipping listing Purdue basketball's record under Lambert; a copy of "Official Basket Ball Rules for Men and Women" by Lambert, circa 1929, as used by the NCAA, YMCA, and Amateur Athletic Union; an issue of "The First Aider" newsletter from 1936, containing the article "Preliminary Training for a Basketball Season" by Lambert; and five photographs...
Dates: 1929 - 1942