Since it first began 75 years ago, the main priority of the Little League Baseball® World Series has been the safety and well-being of its players, and one of those Diamond Legacies at the forefront of that focus has been Dr. Robert Yasui.
For nearly 50 years, when first arriving in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, all players were examined by Dr. Yasui, the physician consultant for the Little League Baseball World Series.
In the late 1940s, Dr. Yasui arrived in Central Pennsylvania to serve his medical residency. During his early years in Williamsport, he would meet his future wife, Phyllis, a nursing school student at the time. Together, the Yasuis became the face of health and happiness for generations of World Series participants – players and coaches alike.
A respected surgeon who saw thousands of patients during the 50-year span of his practice, Dr. Yasui also served on various local boards and civic organizations. He also was the sports physician for both the Williamsport Area School District and Lycoming College. During the fall season, it was not unusual for “Dr. Bob” to be on the sidelines for two or three football games a week. Every August one could find Dr. and Mrs. Yasui near the World Series dugouts.
Though Dr. Yasui retired from his Little League responsibilities in 1998, the Yasuis resided in Williamsport and continued to serve as active leaders and role models in the community. Dr. and Mrs. Yasui celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2012, though Dr. Yasui passed away later that year at the age of 88, and his wife (84) passed on three years later (2015).
“Dr. Yasui was an outstanding physician during his many decades of service to Little League and the greater Williamsport community,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “But more than that, Dr. Yasui was a great husband, father, and grandfather, as well as a good and faithful friend to all who knew him.”
The Yasuis set the bar for the quality of medical treatment available to all World Series participants. Williamsport Hospital and later the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in North Central PA, have maintained and elevated that exceptional level of wellness care provided to the World Series participants. Today, all of the participants now have access to the new Player Wellness Center throughout the entirety of the tournament, which serves as the medical hub for all players, coaches, and managers during their stay at the Little League Baseball World Series each August.
“All of us at Little League who knew Dr. Yasui are richer for it,” said Mr. Keener. “He was a peaceful man who worked tirelessly to make his community and the world a better place. In what I see as a testament to his legacy, Steve Johnson, and his staff at UPMC, have proudly taken up the cause and made it their mission to provide world class service to the World Series.”
Mr. Johnson, the former President of UPMC in North Central PA and Chairman-Elect of the Little League International Board of Directors, has been a driving force behind the improvement and modernization of the medical facilities on the Little League International Complex.
As each of the 20 Region Champions arrive at the Creighton J. Hale International Grove, the World Series housing complex, members of the medical staff greet and examine each. For the two weeks of the World Series tournament, these professionals offer a place of refuge, recovery, and support as teams strive to become Little League’s world champion.
NOTE: This story is a piece of the 75-Part Content Series celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Little League Baseball World Series in August 2022. Join in on the celebration by using #LLWS75 on social media and by tagging @LittleLeague on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information on the celebration, please visit LittleLeague.org/75.