Peoria Chiefs celebrate 30 year anniversary, 10 years at O'Brien Field

By Josh Simon

May 23, 2012 Updated May 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- It's an anniversary season for the Peoria Chiefs. Thirty years as a franchise and a decade at their downtown home.

Time flies when your having fun and there has been a lot of fun at O'Brien Field the last ten years.

"If someone would of said it was five years I would of agreed with that but it's really hard to believe that it's been 10 years," Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen said.

After years of planning and construction the first pitch was thrown on May 24th, 2002 by Peoria's Mr. Baseball Pete Vonachen.

"It was a crazy night. 8,800 people and just the fun and the buzz," Rocky Vonachen said.

There have been some great moments. From the 2002 playoffs and eventual Midwest league championship to Austin Kirk's No-hitter on the 4th of July last season. Whether a Cubs or Cardinal affiliate the Chiefs have welcomed several big name major leaguers on rehab assignments.

Nomar Garciaparra's 3 game rehab stint was shortened to 2 games because of rain but that didn't put a damper on the fans looking for a big league autograph.

"People coming over here to stand in the rain and watch us play. I tried to sign as many autographs as I could but I started getting soaking wet too. I was signing things and the pen wasn't coming out on the hats it was too wet, but I'll be back out there again signing again and try to get as many as I can tomorrow," Garciaparra said.

It's not just the Players either, former Cubs Jody Davis and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg made their managerial debuts at O'Brien Field.

Sandberg liked it so much in the River City, he came back for a second season.

"I'm glad to be back in Peoria for sure,"Sandberg said.

"I don't think that we dreamed that a Jody Davis would be our manager that you would have somebody like a Jody Davis who Cub fans really like that would be your manager and then to have Ryne Sandberg follow him that's just icing on the cake," Vonachen said.

What will the next ten years hold? Vonachen promises improvements including a new video board and one other big change.

"I think by the start of the season you'll see a new naming partner," Vonachen said.

No matter of you call it, the last 10 years have created some great memories at Peoria's friendly confines.

"We've had great players we've had a lot of fun. A lot of great moments and we look for another 10 years just the same," Vonachen said.