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DU’s ‘Little Monster’ Dick Yates dies

Dick Yates

Dick Yates earned eight varsity letters and two degrees at DU.

It is not often that you hear “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” sung at a funeral, but it was a fitting tribute to local sports legend and DU alumnus Richard “Dick” Yates, who died Sept. 11, 2010, at the age of 84.

Yates, a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, lettered in football, basketball and baseball at DU — the same sports he had played at Denver’s South High School. He was known during his college days as DU’s “little monster” because he was small in stature (160 pounds) but huge in courage and fortitude.

On the gridiron he was always where the action was if not the glory, playing on the Pioneers offensive line and as a linebacker on defense. Yates told Irv Moss of the Denver Post that one of his fondest DU football memories was blocking a kick and recovering a fumble in the annual CU Thanksgiving game in 1947, the last game the Pioneers ever played against CU. The Pioneers won that game 26-20.

Yates earned eight varsity letters during his DU athletics career.

Yates entered DU in 1944, but college was interrupted by his World War II Army Air Forces service from 1944–46. He graduated from DU in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, and he earned a master’s degree in education from DU in 1953.

After graduating from DU, Yates began a high school teaching and coaching career that was nothing short of stellar. He took his alma mater, the Denver South Rebels, to three straight state baseball championships in 1958, 1959 and 1960. After a stint at Thomas Jefferson High School in 1966, he moved to the brand new John F. Kennedy High School in Denver, where he stayed until his retirement in 1985. In his years at JFK, Yates won eight state baseball championships.

Not one to slow down after retirement, he then served as an assistant football coach at Kent Denver High School, where his son Scott was head coach. He also taught swimming to 5-year-olds at the Bear Creek Swim Club in Hampden Heights.

Yates was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1988 and the DU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.

Dick Yates is survived by five children and 10 grandchildren. A memorial service was held on Sept. 20. Donations may be made in Dick’s name to the Exempla Lutheran Hospital Collier Hospice Center, 3210 Lutheran Parkway, Wheat Ridge, CO. 80033.

2 Comments

  1. Don C. Falline says:

    Dick also coached youth football in north Denver when I played for the Rough Riders.

  2. Don Falline says:

    Dick also coached the north Denver rough riders youth football one year.
    I know, I was on that team, and my dad had gone to DU.

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