Humanities & Cultural
In 1954 when he was just 17, Bob Hammel wrote his first sports column for the Huntington Herald-Press. He wrote about budding sportcaster Chris Schenkel, a fellow Huntington County native, wondering how far Schenkel’s star would rise. Schenkel would rise to national prominence, and so would Hammel, who wrote another 10,000 columns and numerous books as he became one of the country’s top sportswriters and sports authors.
Hammel’s newspaper career would wind from Huntington to Fort Wayne, Kokomo , Peru and Indianapolis before he landed at the Bloomington Herald-Telephone in 1966. His coverage of Indiana University athletics and other events took him around the country, and eventually around the world covering multiple Olympic Games.
When IU’s Mark Spitz swam to a record seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, Hammel was there to chronicle the unprecedented sporting event, and he found himself also reporting non-sports news when terrorism struck the Games.
Hammel’s work became linked with the rise of the Indiana men’s basketball program and its coach, Bob Knight. The Hoosiers won NCAA titles in 1976, 1981 and 1987 under Knight, with Hammel covering the championships. He wrote several books on the Hoosiers and Knight, including penning Knight’s autobiography, “My Story.” He has authored several other books, including one on another Huntington native, Jim Russo, one of the top baseball scouts of the 1970s and 80s.
He ventured beyond sports with his authoring of the story of Bloomington businessman and philanthropist Bill Cook.
Hammel was named Indiana Sportswriter of the Year and unprecedented 16 times and four times was named winner of the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters’ Corky Lamm award. In 1990, he was selected to the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame. He was presented with the Curt Gowdy Award by the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1995, the highest honor for a basketball writer.
He received the Silver Medal from the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997. He has also been awarded the Bert McGrane Award by the College Football Hall of Fame and the Jake Wade Award by the College Sports Information Directors of America.