Inductees Amy Applegren was getting a paycheck for playing professional baseball before she was out of high school.
Graduating from Peoria Manual in 1945, Applegren had already played one full season in the All-American Girls Baseball League in 1944, the second year the league, founded by late Chicago Club owner Phil Wrigley, was in existence.
The league lasted for a dozen seasons, from 1943 through 1954 and Applegren, a lefthanded pitcher and first baseman who earlier had pitched for the Caterpillar Dieselettes, played in all but the first and last seasons.
This was major league baseball for women and only a few played as long as Applegren or saw as many changes in the game. Over the years the pitching rules were changed nine times while she was hurling: the size of the ball was reduced four times and the mound was moved back five times.
She began playing for the Rockford Peaches in 1944, one year after the team that was featured in the hit movie "A League Of Their Own". Later she was with Muskegon, went back to Rockford and ended with South Bend in 1953. And during her eight-year pitching career they kept changing pitching rules. In 1944 the ball was 12 inches in circumference, pitchers pitched underhand and the distance to home plate was 40 feet. In her final years the ball was 10 inches, pitching was overhand and the distance was 55 feet.
In all, she pitched in 205 games, played in a total of 386, had a 94-91 pitching record with an ERA under three her first three years and then two of 1.06 and 1.76.
Peoria was part of the league from 1946 through 1951 but Applegren never had a chance to play for her hometown, just against it.
Amy Applegren was getting a paycheck for playing professional baseball before she was out of high school.
Jim Lewis served as Athletic Director, head football, golf, basketball, and baseball coach at Pekin Community High School during his career from 1933-1955. Jim received his BA from the University of Illinois and a masters from the University of Iowa. During his days at the University of Illinois he played football and basketball. Jim also served in the military. Jim Lewis started his coaching career at Pekin in 1933 with the baseball team. He compiled a record of 118-71-1 in eleven seasons under his direction. Lewis led Pekin to six regional titles in his seven seasons as basketball coach, including state trophies in 1947 (4th place) and 1948 (3rd place). Jim coached football for eleven seasons with a 71-30-1 record. The 1951 unbeaten Pekin football team was the first team in the history of the school to win ten games. The 1951 team was considered the mythical Number 1 team in the state. Pekin won both the Greater Peoria Illini Conference and the Big 12 Conference titles that year. Jim's golf teams excelled, winning a 3rd place (1948) and a 2nd place (1949) in the state tournament during his seven years as coach. Jim Lewis was one of the driving forces behind building Pekin Memorial Stadium. Jim was a member in three Halls of Fame, the Pekin High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Illinois High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, and the IBCA Hall of Fame. Even by today's standards, Coach Lewis' coaching achievements are legendary.