PEORIA, Ill. — The view of Peoria from of Dozer Park is not a view most people get to see,
Chiefs General manager Jason Mott doesn’t necessarily go up there for the view. Instead, he goes to fetch foul balls that don’t make it out of the ballpark.
“I would be shocked if one per home stand gets out of the stadium,” Mott said of the foul balls hit behind plate and out of sight.
Every couple of weeks someone from the Chiefs staff climbs on to the roof and gathers foul balls. Lots of them.
And if it hasn’t rained, most are still in pretty good condition.
“I bet there’s 100 balls up here. Maybe more,” Mott said as he walked on the roof Friday. ” We haven’t picked them up in a few weeks.”
Of the dozens of baseball resting on the roof, most are from from Chiefs games. However, some are from Bradley University baseball games and others are from the handful of high school games played at Dozer Park.
What do they do with them?
“We give them to fans,” Mott said. “That was a Pete thing.”
Pete is Pete Vonachen, the former owner of the Chiefs who brought minor league baseball to Peoria. Vonachen is known as Peoria’s “Mr. Baseball.”
There’s a statue of Vonachen inside Dozer Park depicting him giving a baseball to a young fan. He was known for that.
Guess where he got the baseballs?
“He’d send an intern to the roof with a bucket. It’s where it all started. We want to keep the tradition going for Pete and the Vonachen’s name,” Mott said. “I usually carry two or three a game to hand out.”
So the next time you see a foul ball disappear on the roof of Dozer Park, don’t be sad it didn’t land near you. A very young fan is probably going to get that baseball at a future game.