Pete Vonachen, Peoria's Mr. Baseball, dead at age 87

By WEEK Reporter

June 10, 2013 Updated Jun 10, 2013 at 10:12 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Pete Vonachen died Monday at the age of 87.

Known as Peoria’s Mr. Baseball, Vonachen is synonymous with the Peoria Chiefs franchise.

He made his final appearance at Dozer Park on Friday for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Born August 31, 1925, Harold Albert “Pete” Vonachen graduated from Spalding Institute in 1943 and earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Bradley University in 1949. He served in the United States Navy from December 1943 to May 1946.

He married the former Donna Hurt on May 11, 1957 and she preceded him in death on March 25, 2007. He has five children, Mary Michael “Mikie” Shadid, Harold (Rocky) III, Gregory, Daniel and Mark.

Vonachen bought the Peoria Suns in 1983, renaming them the Peoria Chiefs in 1984. He sold the Chiefs in 1989, later buying them again in 1994 before turning ownership over to his son Rocky in 1998.

Even after Rocky took over, Pete was still heavily involved in the franchise. The Chiefs won their first Midwest League championship in 2002.

Dozer Park has been opened for anyone that wants to leave flowers or other forms of remembrance for Vonachen.

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