Rockford Pony Baseball at Roy Gayle Park has been a summer tradition for the past 42 years. It has been a summer home to an estimated 20,000 boys and girls who have played ball there over the course of its history. The program now has more than 1,000 boys and girls playing baseball and softball at the beautiful park located on Meridian Road at Bypass 20. The park has thousands of friends, family and fans visit every year to enjoy youth baseball at its best. As progress has changed the landscape of the community in many ways, the park, nestled in the shade of huge oak trees, offers a small, friendly, hometown atmosphere that in this day and age is hard to match. The program is not-for-profit and is run and operated by a board of directors on a volunteer basis. There are hundreds of gracious people in the community that contribute money, time, and labor to ensure that the program not only succeeds but continues throughout the course of time.
The land where the seven diamonds stand has been leased for $1 per year from the Gayle family for the past 42 years. Unfortunately for the Rockford Pony Baseball program, that has not managed to stay untouched by modern business practices. The property was sold to a multi-million-dollar corporation based out of Texas. That corporation was unaware of any arrangements the program had with the previous owner and made a business decision to sell the property. Hours of discussion with a representative of that company yielded an agreement for a lease extension through the 2005 season and opened dialogue for negotiations to allow the Rockford Pony Baseball organization to purchase the property.
The Rockford Pony Baseball Program is most likely looking at a purchase price of $1 million. The Rockford Park District, long-time friends of the program, have offered to assist the board in their quest by applying for a state grant. The organizers of the program will have to match any grant given by the state spawning a $500,000 capital campaign titled Support the Roy Gayle Tradition. The organizers of this campaign have been working with fervor to put together a successful campaign. There are many different ways an individual or business could show their support for the organization.
A Naming Rights Program where an individual or business could purchase the naming rights to one of seven diamonds or naming rights for the park itself is in place. There is a Signs Program where businesses purchase a quality made and designed sign that will be hung from the outfield fences and serves as an advertisement for thousands to see every summer.
The Wall of Fame Program is a way anyone could remember or honor a loved one, coach, player, etc. that will be showcased with a plaque at the park. There are many different levels of contribution.
Amcore Bank has set up an account making contributions easy and painless. Any contribution could be mailed to Amcore specifying a donation to the Support the Roy Tradition Campaign. There is also an automatic bank draft option set up where an interested party could designate a specific dollar amount to be drafted from a checking or savings account every month for the next 36 months. This option would be ideal for a current family of Roy Gayle or any or all of the 20,000 alumni who have gone through the program and feel passionate about its continuation.
Please step forward, make a difference in the lives of the 1000 boys and girls currently playing at Roy Gayle and the children who will benefit from the program in years to come.
For more information and a brochure or to make a donation, contact the fund-raising committee at 399-5664 ext. 407. Any amount is welcome and can be mailed to P.O. Box 1011, Rockford, IL 61105. Visit the Web site at www.rockfordpony.com for more information and register your name in our data bank.