Remembering Pete

It's been one year since Peoria lost "Mr. Baseball."

Harold Albert "Pete" Vonachen passed away June 10, 2013 at the age of 87. He bought what would become the Peoria Chiefs (the club was known at the time as the Peoria Suns) in 1983. Under his leadership, the club rose to the popularity it enjoys today.

For Vonachen, overseeing the club's operations was a labor of love.

"I love the fans, I love the players, and I'm just so happy that we've got such a great facility here for the people of Peoria," Vonachen told 1470 & 100.3 WMBD on Opening Day 2013.

Vonachen was also a hit with the fans for his outgoing and generous nature.

"He always had a smile, would stop to shake your hand. He was a wonderful man," said Jeneanne Plevka, a Morton resident who made the trip to Dozer Park the week Vonachen died to pay her respects.

He even had a major impact on players and coaches who would go on to find success in Major League Baseball.

"He gave us a house to stay in, a brand new car to drive. He took me by the hand," said Joe Maddon, the current Tampa Bay Rays manager who was managing Peoria's club when Vonachen bought it thirty years ago.

Vonachen's son, Rocky, has continued the family tradition by serving as president of the Chiefs. The team says it has not planned anything formal to honor Vonachen's memory at Tuesday night's game.

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