1988 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: MULIIPLE SPORTS
Wife: Judith L. Hamilton
Children: William III, Lisa, Virginia, Michael
A native of Flint, Hamilton attended Fairview Elementary, Lowell Jr. High and graduated from Flint Northern in 1943. He also attended Flint Junior College and Flint’s University of Michigan branch.
It has been stated that Bill Hamilton was the greatest all-around high school athlete in Flint’s history and Flint’s greatest all-around softball player. A Flint native, his athletic career covered over two decades.
Bill started his softball career as a youngster in 1939 with the Great Yellow Dogs. He went on to play with several championship teams including Flint’s most renowned team, M & S Orange. In 1945 M & S Orange was the runnerup in the American Softball Association World Championship. He was the leading hitter for M & S Orange in 1945 and 1946. In 1947 he became a member of the famed Joe Louis Punchers. Bill was named Rookie of the Year in 1948 for the National Fast Pitch League. In 1949 he was named Most Valuable Player in the National Fast Pitch League’s Eastern Division. He led the league that year in RBl’s with 31, total hits (57), and doubles (4). He was second in total bases (93), and home runs (7). He was third in batting averages with .291 and was the top batter for the Punchers in 1947, 48, 49 and 50. He earned the title “Mr. Softball” in 1949 while traveling across the United States and Canada with the Punchers. In 1951, playing for Montreal in the National Congress World Softball Tournament, Bill was named All-World at two positions, first base and catcher. He was also Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
Bill’s football career began in his high school years at Flint Northern. In 1942 Flint Northern were undefeated State Champions, and Bill was named unanimously All-City, All-Saginaw Valley and All-State as a halfback. He was Flint’s first Black Player to make First Team All-State and was picked unanimously on five All-State teams. He held the record of most yards gained at Flint Northern for one season with 2,164 yards. He recorded the most touchdowns in one season with 16 (8 games) and was the Saginaw Valley scoring champion in 1942 with 96 points. He was called a triple threat (punt, pass, run) and was considered the greatest punter to have ever come out of Northern. The late Guy Houston called Hamilton one of the three greatest halfbacks he had ever coached along with Fred Trosko and Leroy Golden. After high school, Bill joined the Midwest Semiprofessional Football League and was named first team halfback two years in a row.
The head track coach at Northern, Stan Kuick, described Bill as Northern’s greatest all-around athlete in 1943. “Mr. Viking” as Bill was nicknamed, scored more points in the history of Northern High School track as a sophomore, junior and senior. He held 14 records in three years at Northern in the city, Saginaw Valley and state. He had the best long jump in the state in 1941 as a sophomore at 22′ 4″. He was regional and city champion in 1942-43 in the 120 yard high hurdles, 200 yard low hurdles, the long jump and the high jump. He was state champion in the 120 yard high hurdles in 1942.
Bill was a star player in the City AA Baseball League and was drafted into the Cleveland Indians Baseball System in 1953.
Hamilton’s basketball career spanned several years, playing in the City AA & AAA basketball leagues. He was named Most Valuable Player and high scorer of the league in 1943 and 1950. In the late 40’s he played pro basketball with the Joe Louis Punchers.
Bill was Michigan’s Athlete of the Year in 1942 and 1943, and was Flint’s Athlete of the Year in 1941, 42, 43. He received 56 scholarship offers from various colleges but turned them down to support his mother.
After Bill completed his athletic career, he became active in community affairs. In 1979 he was awarded the Liberty Bell Award from the Genesee County Bar Association. This award honors citizens of our community who have excelled and performed public service above and beyond the call of duty. In 1985 Bill as named “Mister Flint Golden Gloves” for his involvement with the Golden Gloves boxing program.