New Rockford Peaches fan trail goes batting to promote the town’s past and present

If you watched the Amazon TV series, “A league apart”, or just seen the 1992 movie, you should head to Rockford to learn more about the real-life women’s pro baseball team made famous on screen.

A new Rockford Peaches Fan Trail both highlights the city’s history with women in sport and promotes current women-owned businesses in Rockford.

The Fan Trail leads to places this All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team frequented in their heyday and where their current fans can walk or stop by.

John Groh, president and CEO of GoRockford, said the town’s tourist board developed both the trail and GoRockfordPeaches.coma site on the history of the team.

“Our team worked with staff from Midway Village Museum— which houses a permanent Rockford Peaches exhibit and has a rich collection of player, team and league-related artifacts — to identify Rockford Peaches-related sites,” Groh said. “Reading old newspaper articles provided insight into where the team and individual team members spent time away from Beyer Stadium.”

A stop on the Rockford Peaches Fan Trail, Beyer Stadium was where the Rockford Peaches had their home games. The team’s seasons ran from 1943 to 1954, which was also the period of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

According to Groh, Beyer Stadium was originally built in 1925 to host high school football games; it was demolished in the 1990s.

“The wicket was all that was left until reconstruction began in 2010 with a new backstop, scoreboard, dugouts and a diamond,” Groh said.

Groh added that the Rockford-based International Women’s Baseball Center plans to continue with the stadium restoration project. “Visitors can tour this historic ground and can even catch a Rockford Peaches reenactment game played on occasion.”

In part, six trail spots have ties to the overall history of the real-life Rockford Peaches. The Rockford Peaches Fan Trail also connects six other historic locations where team players and their fans have congregated. See the full list here.

“Not every site on the trail was featured in the film or the series,” Groh noted. “However, in the film and/or the series, you see scenes from the track.”

As examples, Groh cited Beyer Stadium, the Coronado Performing Arts Center, and the 7th Street train station, all of which appeared in the 1992 or 2022 releases.

Another stop is the Midway Village Museum, whose “Summer Girls” the exhibit preserves authentic Rockford Peaches memorabilia symbolizing the team’s 12-year history.

Groh also said restaurants and bars in Rockford offer Rockford Peach-themed food. Among them, member of the trail Prairie St. Brewing Co..’s Peach Wheat Beer toasts the women’s baseball team.

In July 2022, Rockford officials tapped artists Jenny Ustich and Atalie Gagnet to paint the Midtown District’s “Rockford Peaches Mural”; it is also a trail marker.

“Not only does the mural beautify the area, but it reminds local residents and those visiting the area of ​​Rockford’s rich history,” Groh said.

Rockford’s roots in uplifting women go beyond sports. Today, the city’s thriving women-owned businesses are helping to revitalize its downtown. think bigthe Rockford Entrepreneurial Support Center, helps women-owned startups and BIPOC launch, grow and thrive.

They understand:

  • SPORTS makeup, born from the desire to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Rockford Peaches. Locally developed, the line offers a whole range of makeup inspired by Rockford Peaches. The company is owned by the International Women’s Baseball Center.
  • When told she couldn’t start a chocolate business on her own, Susan Pitkin did it anyway. CocoaCuvée Chocolat has been featured twice in Oprah Winfrey’s “Oprah’s Favorite Things” gift guide.
  • Thanks to Emily Hurd’s drive to save a historic building and a community-supported Kickstarter campaign, she created The Norwegiana warm and eclectic restaurant reflecting Rockford’s Scandinavian roots.
  • Chintana Sengchannavong immigrated to the United States from Thailand at the age of 11 as a refugee, settling here with her mother and eight sisters. Today, Chintana owns Sisters Thai Cafe.

The Rockford Peaches legacy has also become a tourism marketing tool.

Also in July 2022, Amazon Prime Video and the City of Rockford held a premiere of the television series at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. The screening capped off a weekend of events celebrating the 1992 film’s 30th anniversary.

“Residents of the region constituted the most [of the] attendees. However, there were visitors from across the country who traveled to Rockford for the weekend events and the premiere,” Groh recalled. “As a new generation of viewers discovers and falls in love with the Rockford Peaches, we are confident that visits to Rockford will remain strong.”

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