In the early 1960's, the Washington-Lee High boys basketball team was a Virginia state power, thanks in large part to 6-foot-6 inch pivot player Ed Hummer.
Hummer, a consistent scorer, rebounder and game-changer on defense, was the linchpin player who fueled the Generals to consecutive state 1A titles in both the 1961-62 and 62-63 basketball seasons.
Following Ed's graduation from W-L in 1963, younger brother John Hummer, also a big man at 6-foot-9, became Washington-Lee's primary player. The two siblings went on to play collegiately at Princeton where both were perennial All-Ivy League standouts.
John, the 15th pick overall by the Buffalo Braves in the 1970 NBA draft, went on to play six years in the NBA from 1970 through '76.
Ed Hummer, meanwhile, was drafted in the sixth round by the Boston Celtics in the 1967 NBA draft but never played in the NBA. He did, however, play in the old American Basketball Association (ABA).
WASHINGTON-LEE HIT ITS PEAK during the Hummer era by winning its second Virginia state title in March of 1963. The Generals, that season, capped a remarkable 24-0 season by defeating Douglas Freeman (Richmond), 44-41, in the state championship game in Richmond.
W-L, coached by Morris Levin, had reached the finals versus Freeman with state playoff wins over Andrew Lewis (Salem), 57-29, in the quarterfinals and Newport News, 49-41, in the semifinals.
Going into the finals game versus Freeman, the Generals were expected to win easily.
In an AP story at that time which ran in the Alexandria Gazette, writer Marshall Johnson wrote, "The observers, already calling W-L perhaps the greatest group 1-A team in history, settled back for another romp."
Indeed, it looked as if the Generals, playing in front of a crowd of 3,622, would have a relatively easy time against Freeman after building a 31-17 lead. Freeman, however, rallied to tie the game at 36 with just under four minutes remaining.
But that's when Ed Hummer took matters into his own hands.
"Then Ed Hummer went to work," wrote Johnson. "He broke the tie by going high above the basket to dunk a layup, then fed Mark Mengering for a layup that put the Generals in front again after the Rebels had tied the score."
W-L trailed 41-40 with 1:31 remaining when Hummer was fouled on a drive to the hoop. He converted both free throws — huge conversions considering the big man had been just 6-of-15 from the line up to that point in the state tournament — to give W-L the lead at 42-41. Moments later, the Generals increased the lead to 44-41 on two Mengering foul shots with 34 seconds left. That ended up being the final score and the Generals, with their 39th straight win going back to the previous season, had captured their second straight state title. Hummer, in the finals win, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds "and was outstanding on defense as usual," wrote Johnson.
Hummer, during a postgame interview, was impressed with Freeman's tenacity. "No team has ever come back on us like that," he said. "They sure were gutty."
Both Hummer and teammate Mengering earned All-Tournament team recognition. Hummer, over the three state playoff wins, had scored 42 points — the most of anyone — and brought down 27 boards.
HUMMER, INDEED, had led the Generals' outstanding '63 postseason run. Prior to states, he had scored 11 points in his team's 62-43 win over Yorktown in the Northern District title game win played in a packed gymnasium at Yorktown.
Of that outing, the Gazette's Dick Heller wrote, "The Generals were triggered by smooth Ed Hummer. ...[He] contributed 11 points — most of his baskets coming on beautiful moves."
Coach Levin, after the win, said, "[I] guess Hummer wanted to give Northern Virginia something to remember him by. Before the game, he just sat there in the dressing room and said, `Let's go, let's go.'"
Near the end of that championship game win over Yorktown, Levin informed his star player that he had been chosen as Virginia's Top Scholastic Player by the Virginia Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
W-L had reached the Northern District finals with a dramatic 43-41 win over George Washington (Alexandria) in a semifinals game played at Hammond High in Alexandria. W-L's Lynn Moore converted a layup basket with six seconds left to win the game for the Generals.
Heller wrote, "Hammond High school erupted at the final buzzer, fans applauding the thriller from every seat, the sidelines, and behind both locked doors."
George Washington coach Clay Estes said afterwards, "They're a great ball club. They beat us, didn't they?"
Hummer scored eight points in the win, while G.W's Skeeter Swift scored nine.
W-L defeated Yorktown in the following game for the district title, then went on to state where it won its three games to claim the state crown.
In the first round state rout over Andrew Lewis, Hummer scored 11 points. Then, in the round of four win over Newport News — a game in which Newport News failed to convert a single field goal in the first half — Hummer tallied 12 points.
ONE SEASON EARLIER — the 1961-62 season when Ed Hummer was a junior — the Generals had defeated Hammond, 42-28, in the district finals before going on to states. Hummer scored 17 in that victory over Hammond while 6-foot-4 Ray Hodgdon scored 18. The win improved W-L's record to 20-1. The Generals' only loss that season had come to Hammond in the regular season.
"Sure, we were flat," said Hammond coach Keith Kishbauch following his team's championship game loss. "W-L didn't try anything that surprised us. But they got good performances from their two big men."
W-L was the No. 1 ranked team heading into state. The Generals eliminated Marion High, 53-32, in a first round game win.
"Ed Hummer, an outstanding 6-6 center, scored 15 points and took eight rebounds for W-L," wrote Johnson.
In the following game's state semis, W-L, led by10 points and 16 rebounds from Hummer, defeated No. 4-seed Andrew Lewis, 61-49.
Then, in the 1962 state title game at the Richmond Arena, W-L defeated Maury, 49-38. Hummer was outstanding again with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Johnson called it "One of the outstanding performances in recent years. ...[He] blocked at least a dozen shots on defense."
W-L, with the state finals win, finished 23-1 overall. Hummer, Hodgdon, and scrappy guard Richie Sharff each earned all-tourney recognition for the `Little Generals, as Levin's team was called.
Hummer went on to play collegiately in the Ivy League at Princeton. There, he was part of a Tigers team (25-3) which reached the NCAA tournament Final Four in the 1964-65 college season. The Final Four was held in Portland that year and Princeon lost its semifinals game to Michigan, 93-76. Cazzie Russell led the Wolverines with 27 points and Bill Bradley scored 29 for the Tigers. Hummer, it is recorded, scored a tip-in basket at the final buzzer with the game well out of reach.
Hummer, during his Princeton career, twice earned All-League Honorable Mention honors, while earning All-League 2nd Team once. Twice, the Tigers finished first in the IVY League when he was there.
Following his collegiate career, Hummer was a sixth round draft selection by the Celtics. Also drafted by the Celtics in that year's draft was Joe Harrington (11th round), who would later go on to become head coach at George Mason University.
Hummer will always be regarded as one of the first great prep school big men in northern Virginia.
"He was very smart and just dominated the game," said former Northern Region coach Charlie Thompson, in a 1992 interview. "The thing I remember most [about him] was his rebounding and defense."
Former Woodson coach Red Jenkins recalled going up against both Ed and John Hummer.
"I played against both of them — the first time at Woodson in 1962," he said. "Ed was a tremendous player and went on to the ABA. John's the one we played against the most. They were not only nice kids, but tremendous players."
John Hummer, as an NBA rookie for the Buffalo Braves in the 1970-71 NBA season, averaged 11 points. That was his best scoring season in a six-year career in which he played for the Braves (1970-73), Chicago ('73), and the Seattle Supersonics (1974-76). For his career, Hummer scored 2,248 points (6.9 per game).
As a collegiate player at Princeton, John Hummer earned All-League 1st Team honors in both his junior and senior seasons, and was All-League 2nd Team as a sophomore. The Tigers won the league title his junior year.
The Hummer Brothers are 16 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.