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Oregon State quarterback Terry Baker
John Walters
December 22, 1997
JANUARY 7, 1963
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December 22, 1997

Oregon State Quarterback Terry Baker

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JANUARY 7, 1963

"I guess I was probably somewhat naive," says Terry Baker of the young man from Oregon State who came east in December 1962 to receive the Heisman Trophy. "I met President Kennedy at the Army-Navy game, and he knew my schedule better than I. He said, 'You're meeting my brother at the Heisman banquet next weekend.' " I said, "I am?"

Now 56 and a lawyer in Portland, Baker is a vestige of an era in which malt shops and sock hops had not yet given way to sit-ins and dropouts. In 1962 Baker, a clean-cut engineering major who quarterbacked not only Oregon State's 9-2 football team but also, as guard, its Final Four basketball squad, was truly everybody's All-America. Besides winning the Heisman and Maxwell awards, he was a consensus football All-America and our Sportsman of the Year. In the Liberty Bowl, Baker put an exclamation point on his magical season by scoring the game's only points on a 99-yard quarterback keeper in the Beavers' 6-0 win over Villanova. "I've given all my trophies to Oregon State except for the Sportsman amphora," says Baker, who went to the school on a basketball scholarship.

His pro football career would be less distinguished. Three years after selecting Baker first in the 1963 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Rams cut him. By then Baker was already, as he puts it, "on a different track," married to his college sweetheart, Marilyn Davis, and attending law school at USC. Though he did play a final year of football, for the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos, Baker never chased after the contrails of fame. "I think I've been back to the Heisman banquet twice since I was inducted," says Baker, who has a son, Brian, 32, and a daughter, Wendy, 30.

Baker's fortuitous meeting with Robert Kennedy—they sat side by side at the 1962 Heisman banquet—awakened him to the politicized era that was dawning. When Kennedy sought the Democratic nomination for president in '68, Baker accompanied him on campaign swings through Oregon. In the wake of the Kent State tragedy in '70, he took part in a commission to investigate campus unrest. "We met for three months in Washington, D.C., that summer, and there were no incidents during that time," says Baker. "Then again, school was out of session."

Today Baker—divorced and remarried, to his high school sweetheart, Barbara Ginther—tackles less divisive causes as chairman of the AAA. "I'm the ideal member," says Baker, who drives an '87 Acura Legend with some 140,000 miles on it. "My car's in the shop right now."