William "Chip" Hilton is the central character in a series of 24 sports novels for adolescent boys written by the successful college basketball coach and 1968 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Clair Bee (1896-1983). In addition to Bee's authorship of the Chip Hilton series, he was also the author of several basketball and coaching technique books. The Chip Hilton series was published between 1948 and 1965 by Grosset & Dunlap, with Bee's last manuscript, "Fiery Fullback," published in 2002.
Chip excels in football, basketball, and baseball, and is often placed in the position of persuading his less than perfect teammates to play his way and share his values - with winning championships being the result. Stories have two or three subplots, sometimes unrelated to sports, and one title is distinguished for tackling racism. The Chip Hilton books sold 2.2 million copies. The books are always about football, basketball, or baseball.
Unlike other Grosset & Dunlap boys series books of the period, the Chip Hilton stories are distinguished by a greater degree of psychological interest. The staidly perfect Chip serves as a foil for his much more human fellow characters. Chip excels at all major sports except hockey. Like most series books heroes, he doesn't have a girlfriend, and spends much of his time with his buddies "Biggie," "Soapy," and "Fireball." He does occasionally turn his eye on Mitzi, the head cashier at his employer's drug store, and once daydreamed about her while looking in a storefront at a display for dancing lessons. Chip was based on Seaton Hall basketball player, Bob Davies, and Chip's coach, Henry "The Rock" Rockwell, was based on Bee himself.
The typical Chip Hilton story involved two to three related plots. The Big Reds or Statesmen were involved in a battle for championship glory, but one teammate or another had some sort of personal issue, often selfishness, that impeded himself and thus the team. Chip straightened out the personal issues with the offending player becoming a vital cog in a championship drive (never as vital as Chip, of course) and gaining admittance to Chip's buddy list.
Sometimes the secondary plot was not strictly team related, as when Chip's boss took ill, or when he helped a teammate chop down trees to sell for firewood. Other frequent plot devices include coaches who do not understand the style of play of Chip and his pals. A slow start to the season is generally followed by Chip interceding with the coach on behalf of his mates, a coaching epiphany, and the coach deciding it is best to see things Chip's way while deriding himself as a fool for trying to change the team's style. Championships generally follow.
Plots transpire in chronological sequence. Chip and his schoolmates age during the series, one season at a time. Midway through the series, the characters graduate from Valley Falls High School and are reunited at State College. A discrepancy exists in the original series, where Chip's senior football season in ''A Pass And A Prayer'' follows his basketball and baseball seasons, documented in ''Hoop Crazy'' and ''Pitchers' Duel''. This discrepancy is repaired in the updated series, and Chip's football season precedes his basketball and baseball seasons.
Of the 24 stories, 9 are about baseball, 8 about basketball and 7 about football.