International Women's Baseball Center moves forward with funding plans

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- While many in Rockford have been celebrating current national sports champion Fred VanVleet, others have been celebrating some from the past.

“We’ve been really excited to honor and celebrate just an awesome human being in Fred Vanvleet, but you have to remember there were trendsetters and a brand setters before - the Rockford Peaches,” says Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

They Peaches were a women’s baseball team in the 1940s and 1950s. They inspired a critically acclaimed movie and put the city of Rockford on a national stage.

“It’s important to understand the history that our city has within baseball overall, but specifically in women’s baseball. [That history] is really remarkable and this is going to honor that history,” says McNamara.

The International Women’s Baseball Center is planning to build a museum in the team’s honor.

“It will be constructed at the property they own, adjacent to Beyer Field, in the southern part of our community,” says committeeman Jim Keeling.

The project is expected to cost 1 million dollars. The organization has already been working with donors to raise the money.

"[Tuesday] we were able to announce over $70,000 [donated]. We also announced there will be another $55,000 [donated] in the weeks ahead,” says Keeling.

This fall there will be a new celebration to raise money for the project and honor the woman who directed the movie, “A League of Their Own.”

"Over the weekend of the Penny Marshall Celebration​, [we are expecting] to come out with $250,000," says Keeling.

Those helping with the project believe this museum will be a home run for the community.

“To see this museum and this education center being built, that is just huge for young women today,” committeewoman Christine Haeggquist.

"One of the most important things is what a museum like this and an investment like this is going to do for the boys and girls in our community,” says McNamara.