Peoria Chiefs

The Peoria Chiefs are a Minor League Baseball team of the Midwest League and the High-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The team was established in 1983 as the Peoria Suns. They are located in Peoria, Illinois, and are named for the Peoria Indian tribe for which the city was named. In 2005, the team replaced the indigenous imagery associated with the Chiefs name and moved to a logo of a Dalmatian depicted as a fire chief.[1] The Chiefs play their home games at Dozer Park, which opened in 2002. They previously played at Vonachen Stadium near Bradley University from 1983 through 2001. The Chiefs have made the playoffs a total of 12 times. Through 7 wild card berths, 3 first-half titles, and 2 second half titles.

Peoria Chiefs
Team logo Cap insignia
Minor league affiliations
ClassHigh-A (2021–present)
Previous classesClass A (1983–2020)
LeagueMidwest League (2022–present)
DivisionWest Division
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
TeamSt. Louis Cardinals (2013–present)
Previous teams
Minor league titles
League titles (1)2002
Division titles (4)
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 2002
  • 2018
First-half titles (3)
  • 2002
  • 2006
  • 2016
Second-half titles (2)
  • 1996
  • 2009
Wild card berths (7)
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1998
  • 2004
  • 2015
  • 2017
  • 2018
Team data
NamePeoria Chiefs (1984–present)
Previous names
Peoria Suns (1983)
ColorsRed, navy, white
BallparkDozer Park (2002–present)
Previous parks
Vonachen Stadium (1983–2001)
Peoria Chiefs Baseball LLC
General managerJason Mott
ManagerPatrick Anderson


Prior professional baseball in Peoria

The history of professional baseball in Peoria dates back to the late 19th century when the Peoria Reds, Peoria Canaries, and Peoria Blackbirds played in several early leagues during parts of 1878 to 1895. The first ballpark used by these teams was reportedly called Sylvan Park and was located at the corner of Northeast Glendale Avenue and Spring Street on the location of the present-day St. Augustine Manor.[2] In 1883, the club moved a few blocks toward Peoria Lake, to a facility called Lake View Park, on the southeast corner of Northeast Adams Street and Grant Street, which would remain the home of various Peoria clubs for the next four decades.

The 1895, club was dubbed the Peoria Distillers, referencing the Hiram Walker plant. From 1891 to 1911, Frank E. Murphy from Green Bay, Wisconsin, became involved with baseball, beginning with the purchase of the Peoria team of the Midwest League, which he later renamed the Peoria Hoosiers. That nickname would stick with the various Peoria clubs for the next couple of decades, including their first stretch with the Three-I League from 1905 to 1917. After the resumption of following the peak of American involvement in World War I, the Peoria Tractors name gained favor in 1919, with the growth of the nearby branch of the company later called Caterpillar Inc.

In 1923, the team opened a new ballpark called Woodruff Field in honor of a long-time mayor of Peoria. The new park was just across Grant Street from Lake View Park. The Tractors continued to play in several leagues before folding after the 1937 season. The city was then without professional baseball for the next 15 years. The name Peoria Chiefs first appeared with a new franchise in the Three-I League in 1953. This club disbanded after 1957, and Peoria was again without professional ball, for the next 25 years until the current Chiefs set up shop. The Woodruff Field site is now a softball facility called Woodruff Park.

Current franchise

The Chiefs in action in 1990

The Peoria Suns were established in 1983. They played their home games at Meinen Field, built in 1968, near the Bradley University campus. The team's name was changed to the Chiefs in 1984. The 1984 team was managed by future Major League Baseball manager Joe Maddon.

The 1988 team, managed by future major league manager Jim Tracy, was the subject of the Joseph Bosco book The Boys Who Would Be Cubs.[3]

Meinen Field was renovated before the 1992 season and renamed Vonachen Stadium in honor of Chiefs' owner Pete Vonachen. The team moved to a new park in downtown Peoria, Dozer Park, on May 24, 2002. They set a franchise attendance record of 254,407 people in the new park's first year and also won the Midwest League championship.

Former Cubs catcher Jody Davis managed the 2006 team. Baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg was hired to manage the 2007 Chiefs. The team went 71–68 and finished the second half 40–30 in a tie for the division title, but missed the playoff on a tiebreaker. At the gate in 2007, the Chiefs broke their season attendance record with 259,794 and an average of 3,800 per game. Sandberg returned to manage the Chiefs in 2008. A Midwest League single-game attendance record was set on July 29, 2008, when the Chiefs drew a crowd of 32,103 to Wrigley Field in Chicago for a game against the Kane County Cougars.

The Chiefs affiliation with the Cubs ended following the 2012 season.[4] They then entered into a new player development contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.[5]

In conjunction with Major League Baseball's restructuring of Minor League Baseball in 2021, the Chiefs were organized into the High-A Central.[6] In 2022, the High-A Central became known as the Midwest League, the name historically used by the regional circuit prior to the 2021 reorganization.[7]

Chiefs' brawl on July 24, 2008

In the first inning of a game on July 24, 2008, against the Dayton Dragons, Chiefs' pitcher Julio Castillo hit Dragons batter Zack Cozart in the head. The night before, three Chiefs players had been hit by Dayton pitchers. Two batters later, he hit Angel Cabrera in the arm, and nearly hit another Dragon player in the head after that while Cabrera spiked the Chiefs shortstop at second base on a slide. At that point, Chiefs fill-in manager Carmelo Martinez began arguing with the umpire. This brought out the Dragons manager, Donnie Scott, and the two argued for a few minutes before the umpires broke it up.

During the coaches' argument, pitcher Castillo fired a ball at the Dragons' dugout. The ball struck a fan, who was taken to the hospital. Brandon Menchaca proceeded to tackle Castillo from behind as both benches cleared, delaying the game for 69 minutes. After the game, Castillo was arrested for felonious assault.[8] The injured fan, Chris McCarthy, suffered a concussion but recovered.

On August 8, 2009, Castillo was convicted of felonious assault causing serious physical injury and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.[9] In April 2010 a judge released Castillo from probation "on the condition that he leave the United States and not return for a minimum of three years."[10][11]

Season-by-season records

Season League Division Finish[d] Wins[d] Losses[d] Win% GB[e] Postseason MLB affiliate
Peoria Suns
1983 Midwest League South 4th 54 85 .388 26 California Angels
Peoria Chiefs
1984 Midwest League South 2nd 66 73 .475 4 California Angels
1985 Midwest League South 1st 75 65 .536 Wild Card Berth
Won South Division title vs. Beloit, 2–1
Lost MWL championship vs. Kenosha, 1–3
Chicago Cubs
1986 Midwest League South 2nd 77 63 .550 10 Wild Card Berth
Won South Division title vs. Springfield, 2–0
Lost MWL championship vs. Waterloo, 0–2
Chicago Cubs
1987 Midwest League South 2nd 71 69 .507 23 Chicago Cubs
1988 Midwest League South 5th 70 70 .500 17 Chicago Cubs
1989 Midwest League South 2nd 80 59 .576 1 Chicago Cubs
1990 Midwest League South 7th 55 82 .401 34.5 Chicago Cubs
1991 Midwest League South 6th 62 76 .449 18.5 Chicago Cubs
1992 Midwest League South 4th 62 74 .456 28.5 Chicago Cubs
1993 Midwest League South 5th 59 79 .428 23 Chicago Cubs
1994 Midwest League South 2nd 68 70 .493 8.5 Chicago Cubs
1995 Midwest League West 4th 62 72 .463 12.5 St. Louis Cardinals
1996 Midwest League Central 1st 79 57 .581 Won Second Half Central Division title
Lost quarterfinals vs. Wisconsin, 1–2
St. Louis Cardinals
1997 Midwest League Central 3rd 70 69 .504 6 St. Louis Cardinals
1998 Midwest League Central 2nd 72 68 .514 1.5 Wild Card Berth
Lost quarterfinals vs. Fort Wayne, 1–2
St. Louis Cardinals
1999 Midwest League Central 4th 63 76 .453 16 St. Louis Cardinals
2000 Midwest League West 5th 63 74 .460 14.5 St. Louis Cardinals
2001 Midwest League West 6th 57 81 .413 31 St. Louis Cardinals
2002 Midwest League West 1st 85 53 .616 Won First Half West Division title
Won quarterfinals vs. Burlington, 2–0
Won West Division title vs. Cedar Rapids, 2–0
Won MWL championship vs. Lansing, 3–1
St. Louis Cardinals
2003 Midwest League West 6th 65 73 .471 14.5 St. Louis Cardinals
2004 Midwest League West 2nd 75 64 .540 8 Wild Card Berth
Lost quarterfinals vs. Kane County, 1–2
St. Louis Cardinals
2005 Midwest League West 5th 68 72 .486 8.5 Chicago Cubs
2006 Midwest League West 3rd 75 64 .540 4 Won First Half West Division title
Lost quarterfinals vs. Beloit, 1–2
Chicago Cubs
2007 Midwest League West 4th 71 68 .511 7.5 Chicago Cubs
2008 Midwest League West 7th 60 78 .435 18.5 Chicago Cubs
2009 Midwest League West 1st 81 57 .587 Won Second Half Central Division title
Lost quarterfinals vs. Cedar Rapids, 2–0
Chicago Cubs
2010 Midwest League West 5th 71 66 .518 11.5 Chicago Cubs
2011 Midwest League West 8th 60 79 .432 22 Chicago Cubs
2012 Midwest League West 7th 63 75 .457 14.5 Chicago Cubs
2013 Midwest League West 4th 68 69 .496 19.5 St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Midwest League West 3rd 72 67 .518 18.5 St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Midwest League West 4th 75 63 .543 13 Wild Card Berth
Won quarterfinals vs. Kane County, 2–0
Lost West Division title vs. Cedar Rapids, 0–2
St. Louis Cardinals
2016 Midwest League West 3rd 73 66 .525 12.5 Won First Half West Division title
Lost quarterfinals vs. Clinton, 0–2
St. Louis Cardinals
2017 Midwest League West 4th 69 70 .496 10.5 Wild Card Berth
Lost quarterfinals vs. Quad Cities, 1–2
St. Louis Cardinals
2018 Midwest League West 3rd 76 63 .547 4.5 Wild Card Berth
Won quarterfinals vs. Quad Cities, 2–0
Won West Division title vs. Cedar Rapids, 2–0
Lost MWL championship vs. Bowling Green, 1–3
St. Louis Cardinals
2019 Midwest League West 8th 54 85 .388 27 St. Louis Cardinals
2020 Midwest League Season cancelled (COVID-19 pandemic) St. Louis Cardinals
2021 High-A Central West 6th 45 75 .375 33 St. Louis Cardinals
2022 Midwest League West 5th 56 76 .424 17.5 St. Louis Cardinals
Totals 2,627 2,745 .489


Players Coaches/Other


  • 36 Chris Gerard
  • 30 Nathanael Heredia
  • 48 Austin Love
  • 50 Edgar Manzo
  • 21 Zane Mills
  •  8 Inohan Paniagua
  • 26 Wilfredo Pereira
  • 15 Levi Prater
  • 28 Jack Ralston
  • 37 Dionys Rodriguez
  • 35 Chris Roycroft
  • 38 Leonardo Taveras
  •  5 Nick Trogrlic-Iverson


  • 33 Aaron McKeithan
  •  7 Luis Rodriguez
  • 27 Wade Stauss


  • 19 Mack Chambers
  •  3 Francisco Hernandez
  •  4 Noah Mendlinger
  • 49 Ramon Mendoza
  • 51 Osvaldo Tovalin


  • 11 Tommy Jew
  • 20 L.J. Jones
  • 29 Tyler Reichenborn
  • 18 Patrick Romeri


  • 22 Patrick Anderson


  • 25 Willi Martin (hitting)
  • 34 Edwin Moreno (pitching)

7-day injured list
* On St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster
~ Development list
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporarily inactive list
Roster updated September 13, 2022
→ More rosters: MiLB  Midwest League
→ St. Louis Cardinals minor league players

Notable alumni

Baseball Hall of Fame alumni

Notable award winning alumni

  • Jerome Walton (1987) 1989 NL Rookie of the Year
  • Rick Sutcliffe (1991) 1979 NL Rookie of the Year; 1984 NL Cy Young Award (Peoria Chiefs MLB rehab)
  • Albert Pujols (2000) 2001 NL Rookie of the Year; 3x NL Most Valuable Player (2005, 2008-2009)
  • Yadier Molina (2002) 9x Gold Glove; 10x MLB All-Star
  • Nomar Garciaparra (2005) 1997 AL Rookie of the Year (Peoria Chiefs MLB Rehab)
  • Kerry Wood (2005, 2007) 1998 NL Rookie of the Year (Peoria Chiefs MLB Rehab)
  • Scott Williamson (2006) 1999 NL Rookie of the Year (Peoria Chiefs MLB Rehab)
  • Josh Donaldson (2008) 2015 AL Most Valuable Player

Notable alumni



  • Benson, Michael (1989). Baseball Parks of North America. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co.
  • Dinda, J. (2003), Peoria, Illinois, in the Midwest League
  • Filichia, Peter (1993). Professional Baseball Franchises. New York: Facts on File Books.
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