Elon father completes MLB ballpark tour to honor late son, Jackson Yelle ’24

The Elon student, originally from North Eastham, Massachusetts, died in April 2023 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in what police investigated as a fatal hit-and-run incident.

Had you been in Comerica Park on June 9, you would have spotted among the sea of Detroit Tigers hats a handful of Elon baseball caps, including the one worn by Scott Yelle.

Lexi, Scott and Andrea Yelle at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers (Courtesy of Scott Yelle)

The sweat-stained maroon cap with the gold “E” had belonged to his late son, Jackson Yelle ’24, a member of Elon Club Baseball who died tragically in 2023. Joining Scott that day as he prepared to throw out the first pitch were other members of his family as well as several of Jackson’s club baseball teammates, all donning Elon baseball gear. The group was there to mark a somber but celebratory milestone, as Scott Yelle completed a tour of all 30 Major League Baseball parks he began with Jackson. Scott Yelle continued the tour after his son was killed during an Elon Club Baseball trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in what police investigated as a fatal hit-and-run incident. Jackson was 21.

Scott and Jackson visited 12 ballparks before Jackson died, and Scott continued on to visit the remaining 18, with the tour evolving into a mission to raise money for the Jackson Yelle Family Foundation and use those resources to support worthy causes. Scott concluded the tour by throwing out the first pitch in Comerica Park to Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo with Jackson’s mother, Andrea, and sister, Lexi, standing nearby, and delivering a $1,000 check from the foundation to the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

“We took a few photos and then Andrea and Lexi joined me for the check presentation,” Scott Yelle wrote in a blog post titled “The Last Stop” on the family foundation’s site. “It felt great to have them by my side for this 30th ballpark. It was emotional but I was able to hold it together until we walked off the field and the Elon boys gave me a hug. More tears were shed, but they were tears of joy.”

Members of the Jackson Yelle Family Foundation and Elon Club Baseball at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Courtesy of Scott Yelle)

Jackson made an impact on scores of people during his time at Elon, with hundreds turning out for a gathering of friends at the Numen Lumen Pavilion following his death. He was remembered at that gathering for his laughter and his caring, for his ability to build connections across campus, and for welcoming new friends into his growing friendship network.

The Jackson Yelle Family Foundation was established in fall 2023, with his sister, Lexi, serving as president, his mother, Andrea, as vice president and his father, Scott as secretary and treasurer. The foundation seeks to support the development of young people and organizations “that display the same values and characteristics as Jackson.”

Jackson Yelle ’24, left, with friend and Elon Club Baseball teammate Harley Wilf ’24 (Courtesy of Scott Yelle)

Scott set out to complete the ballpark tour he had started with his son, a plan they hatched to branch out beyond their visits to Fenway Park, the home of their beloved Boston Red Sox. The father and son had viewed the tour as what Scott said was “something for us to do until we’re old and gray,” and visited 12 parks before Jackson died. As Scott has continued the tour, he has worn his son’s Elon baseball cap at each ballpark appearance, telling MLB writer Scott Merkin that by wearing the cap, Jackson “gets to come to every ballpark with me, just in a different form.”

Along the way, the nine-month tour has generated significant attention from a wide range of media, as the foundation has made an impact at each stop through contributions to the MLB NIKE RBI program affiliated with each team Scott visited. The “Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities” program supports baseball and softball opportunities in underserved communities.

Scott and Jackson Yelle in an earlier family photo. (Courtesy of Scott Yelle)

“We all deal with grief in different ways,” Scott Yelle told the Boston Globe recently. “Healing is not the right word, but for me this has been very therapeutic. It’s helping me move forward with him in my heart.”

The foundation and the tour also attracted the attention of MLB Network, which has joined Scott at many of the stops on the tour and this spring visited Elon’s campus to talk with Jackson’s teammates and friends. The piece began airing on the network on Friday, June 14, and would continue to be aired throughout Father’s Day weekend.

“Jackson wouldn’t want us to be sad for too long,” Scott told MLB Network’s Anthony Castrovince. “Going out and doing good in his name — he’d be like, “Stop.” He wouldn’t want the attention necessarily. We’re proud that we got it done and did good things with it. The stories and the memories I will cherish forever. He would be amazed.”