• Former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League star to discuss rebuilding of Rockford’s Beyer Stadium
In the world of sports, one of its hidden gems was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Hidden, that is, until the release of the movie A League of their Own in 1992. The movie showcased the first season of the AAGPBL and the success of the Rockford Peaches. Part of that success in later seasons was because of Helen “Sis” Wyatt Waddell. She played for the Peaches in the 1950 and 1951 seasons as an outfielder and second baseman.
Waddell will be available for autographs and pictures at Lifescape’s Senior EXPO from 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13, at the Indoor Sports Center, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, Ill. Waddell will talk with fans and share with them the rebuilding of Beyer Stadium in Rockford, the Peaches’ home field from 1943 to 1954.
Originally from Lemoyne, Pa., “Sis” grew up in a family of athletic brothers, so it was natural she would develop her athletic skills as well. Waddell was invited to tryouts in Allentown, Pa. Those then led to spring training for the South Bend Blue Sox.
Within days of the beginning of the 1950 season, however, Waddell was traded to Rockford and was part of the team that won the league championship her rookie season. She began the 1951 season with Rockford, but finished the final few weeks with the Battle Creek (Mich.) Belles. She returned to Rockford to marry and start a family.
Helen has been active in keeping the legacy of the Rockford Peaches alive by speaking to various groups and organizations, telling classes of eager students what life as a professional ball player is all about, and helping foster women’s athletics.
She is instrumental in helping recreate the magic that was once made at Beyer Stadium.
At Seminary and 15th Avenue, Beyer Stadium was the hub of athletic activity in Rockford, not only hosting baseball games but a Bears game once as well. Right now, the rebuilding of Beyer has not only included a new track, but also dugouts, a new scoreboard, fencing and a new sidewalk along 15th Avenue. Most of the work has been done by volunteers, but all of it has been done with the dedication of rebuilding the past. See what changes have been made by checking out the Friends of Beyer Stadium Facebook page.
From the Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2013, issue