by Jim Whiting
Call them The Boys of Autumn. They’re Logger alumni Jerry Thacker and Bob Young, who are still beating out base hits as members of First American Title 65s, a 65–69 age-group softball team that won two national championships in 2005. The twin titles put the capstone on a long-standing relationship between the two men. They estimate that they’ve played together for 45 years and in more than 3,000 games.
Their exploits on the diamond have been amply noted. Both men were inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Old-Timers Baseball-Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1996. On June 4 they attended the association’s annual banquet to participate in ceremonies honoring the team for its accomplishments. It was a busy week for Jerry. Two days earlier, he was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.
Jerry, 69, came to UPS in 1956 on a football scholarship. An AP Little All-American Honorable Mention at quarterback, he established 10 school records by the time he graduated. One, a 96-yard touchdown pass to Ed Tingstad ’62 (“it actually covered about 20 yards,” Jerry chuckles) still stands.
He left UPS with 10 letters: four each in football and baseball, and a pair in basketball. After graduation (he also earned his M.Ed. in ‘70), Jerry worked as a teacher, and a football and baseball coach. He was named the Pierce County Coach of the Year in 1978 while at Orting High School. Then he managed a card room for 10 years before retiring.
Bob’s route to a Puget Sound degree was considerably less traditional. After graduating from Lincoln High School in 1957 and not having money for college, he went into the Navy, where he played some hoops and hardball. Two years at Olympic College, where he played baseball, was next. By then he and Jerry had joined forces, playing on a powerhouse Heidelberg slow-pitch softball team that won seven straight Northwest championships. At the same time, “the GI Bill kicked in,” Bob notes. “I took night classes because I had a decent job as a Teamsters Union official and was raising two kids.” He received his business degree from UPS in 1976. “It was a useful degree,” Bob said. “It helped a lot of times during negotiations.” He retired as president of his local in 1996.
National championships aren’t Bob’s only athletic highlight. He officiated high school basketball and football games for 16 years. He also ran a mile carrying the 1996 Olympic torch during its circuitous path to Atlanta and was selected to represent all 27 Pierce County torchbearers (among them, seven former Olympians) in ceremonies in Tacoma. He joined dignitaries in speaking about what being a torchbearer meant to him.
Both men relish the social aspect of slow-pitch. Thacker emphasizes the camaraderie, while Bob focuses on chemistry. “The team always picks you up,” he says.
Bob isn’t shy about expressing his love of the game. “Senior Softball … Is Life” reads the license plate frame on his car. And he often sports a T-shirt that proclaims “Life is a piece of cake … senior softball is serious.”