He coached football and baseball at Poly High School and Riverside City College for nearly 30 years, and he was the patriarch of one of Riverside’s great sports families.
Hammerschmidt grew up in Nuevo and graduated from Perris Union High School. He played football at Riverside City College before graduating from San Diego State. He was a Naval officer in World War II.
Ben began a 33-year coaching career at San Jacinto High School in 1942-43 before serving in the military in World War II. He began coaching at Poly in 1946 and would eventually be the head football coach at Poly for 18 seasons and baseball coach for 13 seasons. He also was the baseball coach at RCC for two seasons. His teams won eight league titles at Poly, four in football and four in baseball.
He coaches numerous athletes who went on to pro careers, including Bobby Bonds and Bill Parsons, and others who became successful coaches, including UCLA baseball coach Gary Adams. He also is renowned for having a positive influence on thousands of other athletes. As he puts it, he takes just as much pride in helping the ‘guys who were going to be in jail and ended up driving Cadillacs.’
He served as president of Southern California Coaches Association, and he served on numerous CIF rules and playoff committees.
He played in Riverside recreation leagues as an adult, refereed youth sports and started a youth football program. His wife, Bernice, played volleyball, basketball, baseball, and golf, and their four children were active in sports. After his coaching career, Hammerschmidt farmed into his ’70s.