One of the most notable sites in the country for women’s baseball is back is the spotlight, as a new center is opening across the street from Beyer Stadium.
Beyer Stadium is best known as the home of the Rockford Peaches, a team that played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) from 1943-1954. Rockford was just one of two franchises—the other being the South Bend Blue Sox—to play in every season of the league’s history.
Additionally, the Peaches were prominently featured in the film A League of Their Own. Though it was not depicted in the film—Evansville’s Bosse Field was used for production—Beyer Stadium has an interesting history in its own right. For many years, the only relic remaining from the Peaches era at the ballpark was the original ticket window. In recent years, however, Beyer Stadium has been reequipped with dugouts and had its field renovated.
The efforts to keep Beyer Stadium’s history alive have not gone unnoticed, as the International Women’s Baseball Center (IWBC) will open a new headquarters across the street. Saturday will mark the opening of the center, which will be a permanent museum and research space devoted to women’s baseball. Beyer Stadium is also benefiting from this move, as the IWBC will host events and programs at the ballpark.
According to IWBC president Kathie Williams, the organization’s goal is to not only honor the history of the AAGPBL and similar leagues, but to create more opportunities for women in today’s baseball landscape. More from RRStar.com:
“We want to have an educational facility,” she said. “We want a place that’s interactive. It’s a facility where girls and women are part of the process. One piece of this will be umpiring clinics.
“We want to help create additional opportunities for girls to play. We want more girls’ tournaments. And we’ll also be an active participant in the community in bringing more girls to baseball.
“The reality is girls and women have been playing, umpiring and managing baseball for a long time. There have been thousands of girls and women playing around the country for years. It happens in little pockets in Florida, the Northeast, California and the Midwest. This weekend, we have a U.S. women’s baseball team in the World Cup in South Korea.
“But until recently, there has been no central governing body. That’s what we hope to be, an umbrella organization.
“If girls play with the boys, that’s great, but we want them to be able to play on any level. We have more girls playing than people realize, and that’s part of our job to make that known.”
The event on Saturday is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Among the items that will be displayed is a restored bus that was used by the Peaches in 1947.