Little League® International mourns the passing of Allen “Sonny” Yearick, a player on the 1939 Lycoming Dairy team during the first season of Little League® in Williamsport, Pa. He was 91.
Mr. Yearick was born and raised in Williamsport, Pa. He was a Little Leaguer® during the first year of the program chartered by Little League Founder Carl E. Stotz. As a 10-year old catcher, he was a late addition to Mr. Stotz’s team that played in the first Little League Baseball game on June 6, 1939.
Living just outside of the league’s boundaries, Mr. Yearick told the story of how he pestered Mr. Stotz until he was permitted to play. In Play Ball!: The History of History of Little League®, Mr. Yearick remarked about what it personally meant to receive a Little League uniform:
“… It was something that nobody had ever seen. We were all excited, we were elated – we had socks, we had shirts, we had pants. The cost of them was almost nil, but at that time that was a lot of money. We were just unbelievably excited. One cannot tell how a little boy can be so happy over getting something and becoming a part of something. … We were the envy of every kid in the whole area. Other kids were coming around saying, “How can we get on (the team)?”
Mr. Yearick became the first Little League graduate to sign a professional baseball contract when he agreed to join the Boston Braves organization in 1947. He spent four seasons playing minor league baseball, hitting .253 in 300 career games for three teams. In 1951, his final season as a pro, he hit .307 and helped the Niagara Falls Citizens win the Middle Atlantic League.
A graduate of Williamsport Area High School, Mr. Yearick attended and graduated from Lycoming College (Williamsport, Pa.) while still playing professionally. He majored in history and sociology hoping to become a teacher and coach upon graduation. After time in the Marine Corp during World War II, Mr. Yearick returned to Williamsport, and joined Mr. Stotz as a regional coordinator for Little League Baseball®, Incorporated. He also followed Mr. Stotz when he seceded from the program and formed “Original Little League.”
In 1956, Mr. Yearick accepted a position with Weis Markets as Director of Distribution and Warehousing. He remained in that role until his retirement after years 38 with the company.
Mr. Yearick was an avid supporter of Little League through the decades. He often stated that Little League taught him many lessons about respect, rules, regulations, truthfulness, and understanding one’s purpose.
Never straying from his quest to teach and coach, Mr. Yearick, a resident of Shamokin Dam, Pa. at the time of his passing, donated 25 years of his life to the Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pa.) men’s basketball program as a “volunteer manager” and member of the “support staff.”
In 2003, he was inducted in the West Branch Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hal of Fame.
Mr. Yearick is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen; daughter, Sally; sons Patrick and Kyle; six grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his sisters, Mary Ellen and Betty.