Shirley D. Parker had a vision and a commitment to the community's need for athletic and educational opportunities that endure to this day. As founder of Yakima's first professional baseball team in 1937, he built Parker Field on the same 10-acre plot on which the ballpark stands today. At the same time he donated to the community college an adjacent 10 acres where the Yakima Valley Community College main campus and the Larson Art Gallery are located. His mother, Rose B. Larson, donated an adjacent 20 acres to the City of Yakima to be used as a park named in honor of her late husband, A.E. Larson, owner and builder of Yakima's Larson Building. Mrs. Larson and Mr. Parker also gave a trust fund of approximately $100,000 to the Junior College for the purpose of helping to build the campus.
Parker Field and Larson Park became the center for community baseball and softball programs and other recreational activities. Larson Park was also the site of four softball fields, including Dunbar and Noel Fields, and 12 tennis courts, home of the Larson Park Tennis Club for many decades. All of the ball fields and the tennis courts were lighted for night play, making this the primary and most-utilized outdoor recreational facility in the community.
The fields were used to full capacity for fastpitch, slowpitch, and flag football recreational leagues, and the Junior College utilized the fields for physical education classes, intramurals, and varsity football practice. Until 1967, Parker Field was the home of the college and professional baseball teams and is still the home for YVCC baseball and the Yakima Beetles American Legion team.
The Parker-Larson vision and desire for an educational, cultural and recreational center for the city were realized. Today, the 40-acre tract of land comprises the YVCC main campus, the Larson Gallery, Larson Park, Dunbar Field, and Parker Field.
"We succeed in the realm of human activities by, through and with people." - SOP, 1940
Raised in Yakima and a graduate of Yakima High School, Shirley D. Parker rose to prominence and success throughout the state and the country. He was a quarterback at the University of Washington and a record-setting half-miler and captain of the UW track team. He became a trial lawyer, a successful businessman, author and lecturer, but his love of sports remained a priority in his life. He was an organizer of the Western International League and established Yakima's first professional baseball team, the Pippins, a name chosen to promote the high quality of Yakima apples.
Shirley Parker's son, Daryl Parker, joined with others who share his father's commitment to form the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation. Daryl Parker, a businessman who lives in Monroe, is an active member of the Foundation's Board of Directors and serves as a board member.
An inspiration for the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation was the former Parker Youth Foundation, which was founded in the late 1940s for the primary purposes of preserving Parker Field and providing scholarships to student-athletes at Yakima Junior College. Joe Donahue, the only surviving member of that original Parker Youth Foundation, is a charter member of the Parker Youth & Sports Foundation Board of Directors.
The Parker Youth & Sports Foundation remains strongly committed to the goals of the first Parker Youth Foundation, but with a broader mission. It is interested in parks, youth, sports and recreation and is committed to support sports programs and facilities throughout the greater Yakima area.
Public funding and other support for parks and recreation programs for all age groups are inadequate to meet the interests and needs of the public, and they are reduced further each budget cycle. For these reasons, and others expressed in our goals, the rebirth of this Foundation was inspired.
The Parker Youth & Sports Foundation is a 501 (c)3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible.