Robert Raffalo of the Class of 1965 rarely experienced defeat over his four-year career as a baseball and swimming student-athlete at Linfield.
Raffalo was a four-year starter for the baseball club coached by Roy Helser, during which time the Wildcats won four Northwest Conference championships, made four postseason appearances and posted a 71-42-1 win-loss record.
He began his career as a third baseman, earning first team all-conference honors as a freshman and sophomore. His first year in uniform, he led the ‘Cats in RBIs and posted a career-best .364 batting average.
Raffalo made the transition to the shortstop position as a junior. His highly decorated senior year included first team all-conference honors, NAIA honorable mention All-America recognition, All-Oregon Sportswriters Association accolades and Linfield’s Most Improved Player award. After graduation, he was invited to a professional baseball tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He boasts a .345 career batting average and still ranks in the Top 10 in three individual single-season categories at Linfield, including on-base percentage (.528), triples (6) and appearances (35).
Raffalo enjoyed an equally prolific career in the pool. A four-time all-Northwest Conference and NAIA District 2 champion in diving, Raffalo became the first Wildcat to qualify at the NAIA National Swimming & Diving Championships as a senior in 1965. Unfortunately, due to mechanical plane problems and extreme winter weather conditions in La Crosse, Wis., he was unable to compete in the meet.
Over his four-year career, Raffalo went undefeated in NAIA District 2 competition and lost just twice to NWC opponents. He was recognized as a conference and regional all-star all four seasons.
Raffalo was an active member of the Linfield community. In addition to his athletic pursuits, he served as the Senior Class President, Lettermen’s Club President and Vice President of Linfield’s Chapter for the Oregon Education Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health with a minor in social studies.
After graduating in 1965, he returned to his hometown of Hartford, Conn., where he taught and coached in the public school system for 38 years. During that time, he also found the time to complete two additional degrees, volunteer with multiple sports organizations and serve as athletic director at his alma mater, Bulkeley High School.
Raffalo retired in 2004, and currently resides in Old Saybrook, Conn. He has two grown children, Kelly and Robert, Jr.