Don Hakala, Sr.
1971 Baseball Team
Memories, amusing stories and warm congratulations were abundant during the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2001 at Ted Wilson Gymnasium. Nearly 250 attended the fourth annual dinner and ceremony to honor past achievements and contributions from the realm of Linfield sports. Nine individuals and one team were enshrined into the Hall of Fame during the three-hour program that followed an exciting victory by the Linfield football team over previously undefeated Whitworth.
The late Chuck Bafaro, a former three-sport star, was the first to be inducted. Accepting on his behalf were his wife, Jackie, and sons Blayne and Brad.
Recollections of an electric Riley Gym, where the late Don Hakala Sr. entertained basketball fans with a dizzying array of moves, were shared by Hakala's wife, Gingir. She expressed how much her husband enjoyed playing under Hall of Fame coach Ted Wilson, and what a great honor he felt it was to be associated with Linfield.
National championship quarterback David Lindley was described by his coach, Ad Rutschman, as "a leader under pressure with the ability to inspire his teammates without words." Lindley credited the coaching staff and his teammates for his accomplishments, which included two national titles and a host of passing records that still stand.
Philip O'Meara, a courageous and inspirational football player, recalled the many fine coaches and athletes from his era (1938-41), including previous Hall of Fame inductees Henry Lever, Hal Smith, Roy Helser, Ted Hippi and Milt Robins.
Sharon Shepherd became the first female athlete to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. A world-class discus thrower, Shepherd said that the educational values she developed while a student at Linfield were later passed down to those she coached later in her career. She praised her high school coaches, Sky Pennel and Liz McCain.
"Beyond words," was the way baseball and football standout Mike Rex described the feeling of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rex said his teammates raised the level of his play and credited his growth as a player and a person to Rutschman and high school coach Bill Croco. He also thanked his brothers and parents for their devotion.
Longtime public address announcer Craig Singletary, inducted for meritorious service, mused about how difficult it can be at times to describe the action over the noise created by fans at Maxwell Field. The professor emeritus remembered Linfield athletes as disciplined students who are able to set priorities and follow through. He said he is most proud of the Linfield students under his tutelage who have gone on to careers in sports broadcasting, including television anchors Steve Arena and Ron Callan.
Mark Wickman quoted verse from the Rolling Stones and the Bible in accepting his Hall of Fame plaque. Wickman said he gained a greater appreciation of family during a career that included the NAIA Player of the Year award and two NAIA All-America distinctions.
Ken Williams, longtime college registrar and faculty athletics representative, was described as someone who was "always able to bring out the positive," by presenter Scott Carnahan. During an emotional acceptance speech, Williams thanked the 13 members of his family who attended the banquet in his honor. He said an unsolicited letter from legendary coach Paul Durham offering help with tuition expenses lured him to Linfield from his tiny eastern Oregon hometown of Athena.
Fifteen members of the 1971 national championship team returned to campus for induction. Coach Ad Rutschman, who guided the team to the national title in his first year as Linfield's baseball coach, expressed his deep admiration for the players on the team. He called the '71 team "a great example of what can happen when everybody gets together and pulls in the same direction." Dennis Anderson received special appreciation from President Vivian A. Bull during her welcome address, recognizing Anderson's extraordinary devotion to the athletic department. Anderson volunteers countless hours each fall to help organize the banquet and assist athletic department members in many other ways.