Seventeen games into his sophomore season as a Wildcat, Scott Hilgenberg blasted his way into the Linfield record books with a whopper of a single-game performance. But it is what the three-time conference all-star and former minor leaguer accomplished over his entire four years as a Wildcat and beyond that earned Hilgenberg induction into the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame.
By the time he graduated in 1984, the lefty first baseman from Gresham, Ore., boasted 11 top-10 marks, a .331 batting average and had led the Wildcats into the playoffs in each of his last three seasons. He then went on to a four-year career in the minor leagues, playing with various affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds system.
Hilgenberg saw action in 17 games as a freshman before cracking into the starting lineup on a full-time basis the next season, just in time to help Linfield claim its first outright Northwest Conference championship in six years. Hitting primarily in the cleanup spot, he finished as the team’s second-best hitter with a .333 average, contributing 36 hits and 26 RBI toward the winning cause.
Five of those hits came in a single game, a 19-7 Linfield victory over Whitman on April 18. That performance tied the single-game record for hits and set the still-standing record for most runs scored (6).
As a junior, Hilgenberg led the Wildcats offensively with a .422 average – a mark that still ranks among the top 12 all-time performances in Linfield history – and 38 hits, including 12 for extra bases. After finishing second in the conference with a 12-5 record, the ‘Cats put together their best postseason run of Hilgenberg’s career, winning games against Western Oregon, Lewis & Clark and Hawaii-Hilo before dropping a season-ending loss to the Vulcans.
Hilgenberg was selected as the Wildcats’ most valuable player that year, and also earned his second straight all-Northwest Conference citation.
Hitting .308 while serving as co-captain, Hilgenberg took Linfield to the playoffs one more time as a senior after the ‘Cats tied for second in the Northwest Conference. In all, the Wildcats posted a 45-25 record against league opponents with Hilgenberg in the lineup. He finished as a three-time conference all-star and was picked as the team’s most inspirational player as a senior.
After graduating from Linfield with a degree in physical education and health, he entered the rookie Pioneer League as a member of the Billings Mustangs. He played three more seasons in the minor leagues with the Tampa Tarpons and Cedar Rapids Reds – both under the umbrella of the Cincinnati Reds organization – before entering the world of education administration.
Hilgenberg earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and after teaching physical education and serving as an assistant principal in the middle school system, he assumed a new role as principal at Buchanan Middle School in Tampa, Fla.
He and his wife, Robin, met through teaching, and in addition to staying happily married for 23 years, the couple has raised three sons: Craig (26), Curt (22) and Cameron (18). Hilgenberg has stayed involved in baseball, instructing players through individual lessons, camps and travel clubs.