Ronald “Whitey” Martin

Home 5 Class of 2010 5 Ronald “Whitey” Martin

St. Bonaventure Basketball

Ronald “Whitey” Martin was the catalyst for some of the great St. Bonaventure basketball teams of the late 1950’s and early 60’s. He was part of a squad that won at least 20 games in each of his four seasons and achieved an outstanding .835 winning percentage. While known mainly for his ballhandling and defensive skills, Martin scored 796 points over his career, a 10.5 point per game average. As a senior co-captain, he led Bona to a 24-4 record, a No.2 national ranking for much of the season, and the school’s first ever NCAA tournament trip.

Nicknamed “Whitey” for his bleach-blond hair color, Martin played for Mel Palano at Bishop Timon High School and was the Catholic League MVP in 1956. At St. Bonaventure, Martin was best known for his defensive skills, made possible by his cat-like quickness. In 1961 Sports Illustrated described him as a “6-foot-2 sandy-haired senior with hands as quick as a nervous pickpocket.” It added that “he gets more fun out of stealing a pass than making a basket.” Still, Martin was also an excellent offensive player. His quickness made him particularly effective driving to the basket. His main role offensively was to set up the other players on the team, especially the Stith brothers, Sam and Tom.

After making consecutive appearances in the NIT, Martin and the Bonnies went to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever in 1961. In the first round Bona defeated Rhode Island, with Martin contributing 17 points and 12 rebounds. However, the team suffered a controversial loss in the second round to Wake Forest. After the season, Martin was named to the Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention team and the Catholic Colleges All-American Honorable Mention team.

Upon graduation, Whitey was drafted by the New York Knicks in the 2nd round (1st pick, 10th overall). In New York he was reunited with the Stith brothers and his former coach Eddie Donovan. Martin played in the NBA for one season, averaging 15.4 minutes, 3.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists a game.

Among his honors, Martin was inducted into the Bishop Timon Hall of Fame in 2002 and the St. Bonaventure Athletics Hall of Fame in 1969. His number 34 is one of only nine to hang from the Reilly Center rafters. In 1989 he was named to Bona’s all-time basketball team.

The biographies contained on this website were written at the time of the honoree’s induction into the Hall of Fame. No attempt has been made to update these narratives to reflect more recent events, activities, or statistics.