Rockford Athletics History

Seven-season football players, basketball in hold hotel

November 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Konkle presents history of Rockford athletics by BETH ALTENA Rockford Area Historical Society President Terry Konkle had some surprising facts and tidbits of the early years of the Rockford athletics as he spoke before the Rockford Area Historical Society during the November 4 meeting. Konkle has long been a participant in Rockford sports as coach and said when the district hired the new athletic director Dave Price in 1989, Price challenged all the coaches to improve Rockford’s reputation in athletics. A showcase to highlight athletic accomplishments was part of the plan for a soon-to-be-built new high school and Price asked Konkle to be the one to research the history of Rockford athletic accomplishments. Konkle explained that in researching athletics, there were two avenues to explore: town sports and school sports. Rockford had a town baseball team in 1871 called the Pioneers and, in the 1900s, the town team was called the Redwings. Konkle said he has fruitlessly tried to discover a field in Rockford where the team played, looking over aerial maps and old plat maps, but has been unable to discover its location. “A lot of important games were held at Ramona Field in East Grand Rapids,” Konkle said, noting old-timers will remember the field. The location of the field was about where East Grand Rapids High School’s football field is now. Rockford and Sparta were long-time rivals and in 1911 challenged each other to a five-game baseball series with bragging rights over which town had the best team. The teams were tied at two wins each after four games, but the fourth game which was held in Sparta was declared by Rockford to be flawed. The field they played on had a creek running through it and Rockford claimed the umpire cheated. For the fifth game, the two teams met at a neutral location at Ramona Field. Cuppy Groeschow was umpire and the game was so hotly contested that bets totaled over $2,000. The Sparta team manager bet $500 on his team, and Seymour Hunting, the Rockford team manager, took the bet. E.W. Dickerson, the Grand Rapids Evening News sports editor, took certified checks from each of the men and locked them in a safe. One thousand sixty-three fans came in on train […]