Shaw was born in Portland, Oregon, where, as a high school football quarterback, he led Grant High School to back-to-back state football championships in 1946 and 1947. Shaw also played basketball and baseball for Grant and was inducted into the Portland Interscholastic League Hall of Fame in 2005.
Shaw played college baseball and football for Stanford University, and was the starting quarterback for the 1948 season. Shaw was the backup to Gary Kerkorian for the 1949 and 1950 seasons. (Kerkorian, in turn, would become the backup to Shaw's younger brother George for the NFL's Baltimore Colts in 1955.)
- "Thomas Shaw". San Francisco Chronicle. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?n=thomas-shaw&pid=187647398&fhid=2112. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
- "PIL Hall of Fame Cyber Museum: Tom Shaw". Portland Interscholastic Hall of Fame. October 2005. http://pilhalloffame.org/cybermuseum/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=167. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- Frei, Terry (April 22, 1993). "Shaw tops a list of greats". The Oregonian: p. D01.
- "Letterwinners". Stanford Football Media Guide. 2007. p. 180. http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/stan/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2007-stan-fb-media-guide.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Stanford aerials upset Washington". New York Times: p. S4. October 31, 1948.
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