Nicknamed "Stretch," Alterson was an outstanding shooter for Cornell University in the mid-1940s. A two-time All-Ivy League first team selection, he led the conference in scoring during the 1945 and 1946 seasons.
After his playing days, Irwin lived in Massachusetts and worked with the disabled community in that state. He was on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation. In January 2002, Alterson was posthumously honored with the Arc Massachusetts Distinguished Citizens Award for his lifelong work with mentally retarded people.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Jan. 20, 1926 - d. Aug. 29, 2001
A star at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, Alterson helped his team win the New York City PSAL title in 1942. Two years later, Irwin joined the Cornell University varsity basketball team as a backup center, joining guard Nat Militzok (a transfer from Hofstra) on the team.
In the final game of the 1944 season, Alterson demonstrated the scoring ability that would later make him an outstanding basketball player. He stepped into the starting lineup after Cornell lost four players to armed service transfers (many players were in the Army because of World War II). In a huge upset, Cornell thumped Canisius 51-28, as Irwin scored a game-high 15 points.
In 1945, Alterson became a full-fledged star. He was named first team All-Ivy League, and was the conference's leading scorer with a 15.7 points per game average (94 points in six games). Irwin's talent sparked Cornell to a 12-5 record. In 1946, he repeated as the league's leading scorer, this time, with a remarkable 16.1 average (129 points in eight games). Alterson was once more named All-Ivy League first team, and Cornell again compiled a mark of 12-5 on the season.
Alterson played center at Cornell, 1944-1946.
Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
New York Times, March 5, 1944