Yakima Beetles Among Nation's Best Over Last 50 YearsPosted: Updated:
YAKIMA--KNDO is celebrating broadcasting 50 years to the Yakima Valley, and honoring businesses and organizations that have shared this time with us.
This week we take a look at the most successful team in Yakima history: the Pepsi Beetles Baseball squad.
The Beetles have been playing at Parker Field for nearly 40 years. Before that, they played at Squire Field. Doesn't ring a bell? It's in Terrace Heights, where Sunfair Chevrolet is now.
The numbers don't lie: 24 state championships, 7 regional titles, 3 national championships, and nearly 40 beetles alums who made it to the Major Leagues. This program has a reputation.
"You could go almost anywhere in the country, in a Legion baseball park and you mention the Yakima Pepsi Beetles and they'll know who you're talking about."
Elbow injuries shortened DiPietro's pro career. He wants to give back to the team that gave him his start.
Mike Bailey is in his third year as head coach and starred on the 1988 Beetles team that won a Regional title.
He remembers how, growing up in Yakima, all kids wanted to be Beetles.
"Baseball was a huge thing," Bailey, who played for the Beetles from 1987-89, said. "At that time the Yakima Beetles were kind of the run of the whole town."
His current players agree.
"See them host a World Series and the Nationals and all that kind of stuff it just was like, made me really want to get into it and start playing."
It's not easy maintaining a top-notch program.
Even with our Valley's perfect baseball weather, not as many kids want to play these days.
"There were good teams in the Lower Valley and the Upper Valley, along with the Beetles," DiPietro said. "Now they don't have those."
"We're having to juggle a little bit more," Bailey said. "You start talking about AAU basketball and you start talking about football camps and some other, the other things that are going on, then we are having to have a little bit more leeway."
This year's Beetles are made up of players from Yakima to Sunnyside, a far cry from teams in the 1950's.
But even with those changes, DiPietro expects the Beetles' future will look a lot like its past.
"I think we're going to see more Beetles state titles, regional titles, and hopefully a National Championship," he said.
That's how the Beetles keep nearly 80 years of tradition going.