Father honoring late son with MLB ballparks tour stops by Chase Field

May 14, 2024, 8:24 PM | Updated: May 15, 2024, 7:23 am

Scott Yelle...

Scott Yelle (X Photo/@MLBRBI)

(X Photo/@MLBRBI)

PHOENIX — Scott Yelle’s nationwide ballpark tour to honor his late son, Jackson, and raise money for youth programs stopped by Chase Field on Tuesday for the Diamondbacks’ game against the Reds.

Scott took Jackson to his first baseball game when his son was five years old in 2007. As Red Sox fans living in San Francisco at the time, they had to see Boston take on the Oakland Athletics.

Eventually, Scott and his son Jackson made it a goal to visit all 30 MLB ballparks together. They bonded as fans, and Jackson kept that love of baseball going by playing club ball at Elon College.

But the Yelle family underwent unthinkable tragedy on April 30, 2023, when 21-year-old Jackson was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, while on a trip with his team.

Through grief, the Yelles started the Jackson Yelle Family Foundation, and Scott embarked on a country-wide mission to visit all 30 ballparks and donate $1,000 to each team’s Nike Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.

“Jackson and I had started the journey, we just realized we’ve been to four or five ballparks and thought, ‘Hey, we should try and go to all 30.’ And once he passed away a year ago, we had only been to 12,” Yelle told Arizona Sports.

“I was like, ‘I should really figure out a way to finish the journey and see how we can raise some funds and give back at the same time.’ Just had the idea. I floated it out to the baseball community I knew. A good friend of the family is Trey Wingo. And he said, ‘Hey, you should go check out Major League Baseball’s Nike RBI program. So I did and then I reached out to MLB and the rest is history.”

Scott Yelle visits Diamondbacks

Yelle — wearing a customized D-backs jersey and Elon baseball cap — met with Diamondbacks star Corbin Carroll and manager Torey Lovullo before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to reliever Ryan Thompson. He clearly had some practice, delivering a strike.

Watching the Diamondbacks take on the Reds was his first experience seeing a game at Chase Field, his 22nd ballpark on the trek. Yelle visited Seattle on Monday and will head west to Angel Stadium and Dodger Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. He plans on completing the tour June 9 at the Detroit Tigers.

“One of (Jackson’s) old high school basketball teammates joined me in Tampa because he’s going to the University of Tampa,” Yelle said. “Another basketball, baseball teammate joined us in (Philadelphia). It’s a mix. His roommate and his mom are gonna join me for the last three stadiums together. It’s been fun to have people join me.”

Yelle challenged 100 Seattle fans to donate $10 to the foundation and promised to match it on top of the $1,000 donation on Monday. Fans donated $1,235 for the cause. 

Jackson Yelle Family Foundation impacts

The original goal of Yelle’s tour was to raise $25,000 with $18,000 going to the Nike RBI Program. He wrote after the Mariners game the foundation had raised just shy of $23,000.

MLB’s Nike RBI initiative is a youth outreach program that gives resources and support for baseball and softball organizations serving underserved kids and communities. The missions of the program are to increase participation in baseball and softball in underserved communities, provide academic support and teach life skills.

The D-backs’ Nike RBI program launched in 2020 and offers free clinics in partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs around the Valley.

The foundation has also established a scholarship in Jackson’s name for a senior at Nauset Regional High School, his alma mater, worth $1,000 annually. It has also upgraded the Elon Club baseball and softball fields, matched donations to the Nauset Booster Club and is working to finalize an Elon scholarship.

Scott acts as secretary and treasurer. Jackson’s mother Andrea Yelle is the vice president and his sister Lexi is the president.

The Elon Club baseball program raised $40,000 at the time of Jackson’s death to help start the foundation.

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