Elmer S. Yates (b. 1917) was raised in the Rainier Valley and attended Franklin High School. He went to sea and became a ship's captain. In 1996, he wrote to the Rainier Valley Historical Society from his home in Tampa, Florida, about the day in 1931 that Big League baseball players visited Seattle's Dugdale Park.
Elmer Yates' Big Day
"I considered myself the "luckiest kid" in Rainier Valley during baseball season. In the latter 20's and early 30's, I delivered the morning paper (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) to Mr. Rooney who was in charge of the grandstand pass gate at Dugdale Park. During baseball season, he allowed me to bring a friend with me and attend all of the games free of charge. Although the Seattle Indians didn't set the world on fire as winners during those years, I was a faithful fan and missed very few games.
"In October 1931, Connie Mack, who was Manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, collected a group of major league baseball players to accompany him on a tour of the Orient and play a number of exhibition games. The day prior to sailing for Japan, an exhibition game was scheduled to be played in Seattle at Dugdale Park. On the day of the game, I was determined to get some autographs from some of the 'big leaguers.'
"I positioned myself next to one of the player's dugouts and the first player I asked to sign my scuffed up baseball was Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers. He tried to sign his name on my ball, but finally gave up and said to me, You wait here and I will get a better ball for you.'
"Sometime later he returned and handed me an Official National League baseball which he had autographed and to my pleasant surprise, he had secured the following signatures as they appear on the ball: Chas. Gehringer, Art Shire, Steve O'Neill, "Lefty O'Doul, Dutch Henry, Rube Walberg, Nick Altrick, "Lefty" Grove, Bill Sweeney, "Red" Kress, Harry Heilman, "Bing" Miller, "Al" Schacht. Three of the above named -- Gehringer, Grove and Heilman are in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"On June 13,1986, I wrote a personal letter to Charles Gehringer in which I expressed my gratitude as follows: 'I will never forget the pride and happiness that you gave me those many years ago. I still have the baseball and will pass it on to my son as a keepsake.'
"Today 67 years later the pleasant memory remains intact."