Rockford’s dream of a baseball field for players ages 9 to 12 started in August 2011 when Steve Yakesh and Chris Hudlow had a conversation in a garage. The dream became a reality with the opening of Bankwest’s Lampert’s Field at Jim Thome Park Saturday, May 11.
Representatives from the Minnesota Twins, Bankwest, City of Rockford and Rockford Area Athletic Association (RAAA) were on hand for the dedication of the new field. With 200-foot fences, a grass infield and a pitching mound, Rockford is home to a baseball only youth field.
“This field will be the site of summer memories for many young baseball players in the Rockford area for years to come,” said Hudlow, Assistant Baseball Director for RAAA.
Bankwest’s Lampert’s Field was built through the generous contributions made by the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, Bankwest, Lampert’s Lumber, Hanover Athletic Association, RonVik and countless individuals. Additional fundraising efforts through the sale of raffle tickets and legacy bricks also contributed.
“Lots of time, energy and expertise from many local residents and businesses contributed to making this field possible,” adds Yakesh, the RAAA Baseball Director.
After receiving a grant from the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, representatives from the Twins, including President Dave St. Peter, came to Rockford to visit the site. They approached Yakesh and Hudlow about naming the field for former Twin Jim Thome.
The Twins wanted to honor Thome’s time in Minnesota and all his work with local charities with a field named after him. With the field already named after two sponsoring local businesses, Yakesh and Hudlow approached both the Twins and the City of Rockford about renaming Parkwood Park, Jim Thome Park.
Thome sent a letter that was read during the opening ceremony and hopes to visit his park later this summer or in the fall.
Additional goals for the baseball field include an electronic scoreboard, wind screen on the fence, trees and flagpole in centerfield, covered bleachers and other smaller projects.
Rockford Area Athletic Association is a non-profit organization that sponsors youth baseball, softball, T-ball, basketball, tackle football, Junior Olympic volleyball and wrestling.