Twenty-five years was enough for Rocky Vonachen.
The Peoria Chief president retired from baseball Tuesday after 25 years with the minor league baseball franchise. The team announced the move Wednesday afternoon.
Vonachen, who’s father Pete bought minor league baseball to Peoria in 1983 when he bought the Peoria Suns, the low Class A affiliate of the California Angels, will retain his position on the Chiefs ownership team. His role on the board of directors is unclear since he is now longer the team president.
“The last year or so I was thinking about when it would be time to call it quits and have a summer where I can enjoy my wife and family, friends and those types of things,” said Vonachen. “So I sat down with family and decided this was the time.”
Vonachen, 58, joined the Chiefs in 1993 when his father was the principle owner. Thre years later he became the team president when his father stpped away from the daily operations of the Midwest League team.
The team will not replace him as president, Vonachen said. General Manager Jason Mott, the 2017 MWL executive iof the year, will assume Vonachen’s duties.
Vonachen’s greatest accomplishment was getting a downtown stadium built for the team which moved from Meinen Field to O’Brien Field in 2002 and won a league championship in its first year in the new stadium. The home of the Peoria Chiefs is now Dozer Park after its third name change since moving downtown.
Since the move downtown, the Chiefs have hosted two MWL All-Star games and have drawn better than 200,000 fans in a season 14 times. The Chiefs drew a franchise record 275,673 fans when they were a Chicago Cubs affiliate with Ryne Sandberg as manager.