Since it’s College World Series time and Omaha gets mentioned a billion times on TV, radio and internet, as well as real newspapers (something our Chamber of Commerce crows about annually), I thought my next couple of blogs would be baseball related.
Rosenblatt Stadium – Home of the College World Series 1950-2010
While the CWS goes on at our fantastic new digs – TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, a few miles south on 13th Street, the sad remains of a great ball field wait to be demolished and put to sleep. Rosenblatt Stadium hosted the CWS for six decades. A lot of future Major league ball players made their college trips to the ball field –Dave Winfield, Robin Ventura, Will Clark, Roger Clemens, etc.
Then, I immediately noticed the two ads still displayed behind center field – Burger King and Hebrew National franks. Brought out a chuckle.
I was impressed with the families walking around – taking in the views or playing catch in the outfield and infield. I overheard an older dad telling his adult son about attending games at the park. A couple discussed their memories of attending games during the early days of their dating.
Kids scooped up dirt and put in jars or soda pop cups.
The stadium has pretty much been scrapped. Not much remains – a few yellow seats.
But the memories remain…
My first trip to the Series was in 1973, when I played baseball in Oakland NE. I rode the bench, but still was part of the team. LOL. Our coach got us general admission tickets for the games. Back then, it was not the major draw it is today. I remember watching three games that day. Thanks to the magic of the internet I can recall them – Texas beat Oklahoma 10-2 in the first game; Southern California beat Arizona State 3-1; and ASU eliminated Texas in the nightcap 6-5. One of the vivid memories is listening to Texas fans ring their cowbells and yell “Hook ‘em Horns!” Ugh. My dislike for Texas started then, I believe. LOL. USC won that year; its fourth title on the way to five straight.
My next visit to the CWS came in the late 1980s, when I coached my oldest daughter’s softball team. The team sponsor gave us tickets for the team. Nothing says “fun” like taking 12 elementary school-aged girls to a baseball game. I believe the game was Florida State and Stanford or Cal State Fullerton. All I remember is I did not like FSU.
My wife and I have attended games on and off through the past 15 years. The last CWS game we saw at the ‘Blatt was 2009, Arizona State knocked off North Carolina 12-5 in an elimination game. The best game we saw was the USC-LSU slugfest when the Trojans won by a score of 21-17 or 21-14. Either way, both teams set records for home runs in a game.
The ‘Blatt was a venerable stadium; an old dog in a younger dog world. The stadium, with its red, yellow and blue seats stood out on TV. But, in reality, the world passed it by. In order to keep the College World Series, Omaha “had” to build a new stadium. Minneapolis had tried to previously steal the Series from Omaha. With its new Target Field, it had a legitimate shot. Indianapolis, with Victory Field, stood a chance of getting the Series away from Omaha.
TD Ameritrade Park is among the best ball parks in the US, including major league stadiums. But that does not diminish the history and appreciation of Rosenblatt.
One of the neat things being done to commemorate the ‘Blatt is the park the Zoo plans to build. The Omaha Zoo now owns the stadium and its land. Zoo officials plan to build a small park, where kids can play ball and families can picnic (surrounded by the parking lot, of course). The park will keep home plate intact. That will be nice.
Anyway, one last walk through the park showed it was a shell of its former greatness. But, it gave people, local and visiting for the Series) the chance to say good bye one last time.