Tom Yorke, 73, sportswriter for D.C. newspapers

October 21, 2003

Tom Yorke, a retired Washington sports reporter who once picked nine of 10 winners on a day's racing card at Timonium, died Thursday of complications from congestive heart failure and multiple sclerosis at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was 73 and a resident of Cape St. Claire.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he moved with his family to Washington in 1940 and attended the University of Maryland, College Park.

He was hired as a sports department copyboy at the old Washington Daily News in 1947. He became editor of a weekly Army newspaper after joining the service in 1952, and was stationed in Goppingen, Germany.

Returning to the News' sports department, he became its Redskins football beat reporter from 1958 to 1968. He also wrote a column, "The Pipeline."

"He was enthusiastic about everything he did," said his son Jeffrey T. Yorke of Cheverly. "In the 1960s, he loved covering the Redskins. In those days, there was a Baltimore-Washington football rivalry that he liked writing about."

He joined the old Washington Evening Star in 1969 as a sportswriter and reported on professional and collegiate sports and filled in on coverage of thoroughbred racing. His best day at handicapping came one August in the early 1970s, when he picked the winners in nine of 10 races.

"My father was not a gambler and drove to the track that day with only $1.80 in his pocket, 20 cents short of being able to place a $2 bet," his son said. "He later joked that he'd probably have picked his only loser of the day had he bet."

He was production editor of the Star's morning edition until it folded in 1981. He then joined The Washington Times and retired in March 2000 as a copy editor. He also wrote free-lance articles on Virginia steeplechases for The Sun.

He enjoyed boating on the Chesapeake Bay, and was a former treasurer of the Maryland Racing Writers.

A memorial service was held Saturday in Annapolis.

Survivors also include his wife of 50 years, the former Nancy Day; another son, Gregory A. Yorke of Arnold; and two granddaughters.

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