Few athletes have made a more immediate impact in their Linfield careers than Tom Younker. By the third game of his freshman football season, and the first start of his collegiate baseball career, Younker was an established star.
Younker came to Linfield from North Bend High in 1959 because Paul Durham offered him a scholarship before University of Oregon did. Though he had been an offensive player in high school football, he was quickly switched to defensive end. In the third game of the season, the starter was injured and Younker was called to start at defensive end the following week against College of Idaho. He played so well that he was nominated for Northwest Conference Player of the Week.
Tom started every game the rest of his Linfield career at defensive end. He was chosen to NAIA District 2 all-star teams in his sophomore, junior and senior years and in his final season, 1962, he was selected second-team NAIA All-American.
In baseball, Younker's debut was even more spectacular. In his first pitching start, against Willamette in a tournament at Portland, he threw a one-hitter -- an infield hit -- and went 4-for-4 at the plate with a home run and four RBIs as Linfield won, 15-1. In his freshman season, Younker batted over .500 and had an equally sensational pitching earned run average, right around 1.0.
He was chosen to the NAIA All-District 2 team all four years and was chosen second-team NAIA All-American in his senior season of 1963. In his junior year, Younker also won NAIA academic honors.
Following his graduation in 1963, Younker signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization. He played in Salem, Great Falls, Mont., and in Salisbury, N.C., where he compiled a 2.48 ERA in 48 games, mainly in relief, for a league championship team. The following year he was offered a contract in the California League, but Younker opted instead to return to Linfield to earn his master's degree in education.
That led to a 32-year teaching career, all but two years at North Bend High, where Younker taught PE, science and math, and coached football, basketball and baseball. His led his North Bend girls basketball teams into the state tournament eight times, with four of those teams including his daughter, Jeranna.
Though he retired from teaching in 1996, Tom continues to coach junior varsity baseball at North Bend High. After 30 years of pitching batting practice, however, he has "retired" his arm. Tom and his wife, the former Diana Allado, a 1962 Linfield graduate and also a retired teacher, reside in Coos Bay.
Their older son, Jason, who was a high-school all-state selection in football, basketball and baseball and played two years of professional baseball, is studying for his doctorate in cultural anthropology at University of Oregon. Daughter Jeranna is a special education teacher in Wisconsin, and younger son Shirod is currently a house-husband while his wife works as an aide to U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith in Washington, D.C.