PREP BASEBALL

Baseball community loses young 'leader' in Ryan Yates

2013-12-02T20:00:00Z 2013-12-02T21:48:05Z Baseball community loses young 'leader' in Ryan YatesHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com
December 02, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

Fred Yates has received phone calls and text messages from people he doesn't even know.

"One said that my son spent a weekend at their cabin last year and helped with yard work," Yates said. "That's the kind of kid he was."

The condolences are pouring in about former Munster baseball player Ryan Yates, who collapsed and died Saturday afternoon while raking leaves. He was trying to make Christmas money, his father said, helping a buddy with a yard business.

Ryan Yates, who graduated from Munster High School in June, was 19.

The family has decided that no autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death.

A first baseman with the Mustangs last season, Ryan had a long history in Munster baseball.

He was 11 years old on a Little League team that won a district title, and has Babe Ruth state title trophies from ages 13 and 15. He was a catcher, pitcher and first baseman.

"Ryan wasn't interested in just playing travel ball," family friend Ted Poulos said. "It meant a lot to him to represent his community and to have 'Munster' on his chest."

Ryan was a freshman at Purdue Calumet, where he was hoping to work in forestry or law enforcement, his father said. This spring, he planned to rejoin the Mustangs as a volunteer coach.

"He wanted to stay in the program," coach Bob Shinkan said. "He was always smiling, always respectful and everyone loved having him around. The teachers respected him and all are grieving over him, that's what a quality young man he was."

Shinkan said that a memo was sent to Munster teachers that grief counselors were available at the school this week for students.

"He was a born leader, extremely charasmatic," said Jerry Wright, Ryan's Little League coach. "He's the guy we'd give the ball to in the critical situation, and he'd come up with two outs and the game on the line. That's when you wanted Ryan to have that opportunity. He led the kids not only on the field, but off the field."

Visitation is planned for 3-8 p.m. Thursday at the Anthony & Dziadowicz Funeral Home in Munster with a funeral mass at 10 a.m. Friday at St. James the Less Church in Highland.

"This is a guy, even at 10 years old, he came to the game and his spikes were polished," said coach and family friend Bob Korem. "That's old school.

"Ryan was a special kid, and I was a better person for knowing him as a child."

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