By Phil Hecken
That photo above? What’s depicted is not some war memorial or something you’d see at the Louvre or MoMA. That statue is entitled “The Road To Omaha” and it’s found at the entrance to Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, which has hosted the College World Series since 1950.
Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium, or The Blatt as it is known in local parlance, was constructed in 1947, and was first built as a home to the Single-A Omaha Cardinals (a St. Louis Cards farm team in the Western League), who began play in 1948. In 1955, the Triple-A Omaha Cardinals (another St. Looie affiliate in the American Association) began playing there, and for the better part of the next 55 years, Rosenblatt Stadium has hosted a Triple A team (the Cards remained there until 1959). In 1961 and 1962, the Dodgers farm club (Triple-A Omaha Dodgers) called her home, and from 1969 through today, the Omaha Royals (you guessed it, a Triple-A affliliate of the Kansas City Royals) have been the Blatt’s primary tenants.
The stadium was officially named “Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium” in 1964. Rosenblatt himself was the Mayor of Omaha from 1954 through 1961, and was instrumental in bringing a ballpark to that city. He pushed for its construction and was personally responsible for locating the site on which the park now sits.
The Blatt holds the current distinction of being the largest stadium in the minor leagues, with a capacity in excess of 23,000. That’s huge by any standards, but it’s not like they’re packing them in to see the Royals Triple-A team (seating capacity for Royals games is a mere 8,859). Why then, is the Blatt so big? For the yearly event that has become synonymous with both Omaha and College baseball — the College World Series.
Sadly, 2010 marks the final year for the CWS in Rosenblatt Stadium, which has hosted the College World Series almost as long as there has been a CWS. The first CWS was played in 1947, and then again 1948, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. For one year, the CWS moved to Wichita, Kansas (where former President George H.W. Bush captained his Yale team). But by 1950, looking for a bigger and permanent home, the CWS was moved to Omaha Municipal Stadium, and it has been played in this stadium ever since. Over the next sixty years, perhaps no other sporting event is more synonymous with a single city than are Omaha and the College World Series.
Over the past sixty years, the City of Omaha, which has symbiotically benefitted from the CWS, of course, has invested some $35 million to keep the stadium up to championship caliber. When first opened in 1948, seating capacity increased from 10,000 to the current capacity of more than 23,000 — with 17,700 seats located in the grandstand and View Club, while another 5,400 patrons occupy the outfield bleacher seats, which are sold as General Admission. Of course, some of the best “seats” may not be found inside the stadium at all.
While fairly straightforward and old school in design, the ballpark does feature its signature press box, delicately balanced atop a lattice work of exposed blue steel. As seen by millions of ESPN viewers, the press box proudly proclaims “Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium” in bright red neon. There is also a large glassed-in, auxiliary press box down the right field line.
Another cool feature of the ballpark is the raised blue walkway which connects the bleachers with the right field grandstand, and on which fans have some of the best views in the house. Behind the bleachers and the walkway is the “desert geodome” of the next-door Henry Doorly Zoo. When some of the mid-west’s famous bad weather comes and goes, the view can be spectacular.
Another quirky/quaint feature of Rosenblatt Stadium is the bright seat colors. When packed to capacity, it’s hardly noticeable. But when empty, the blue-yellow-red (note the zoo in the foreground) seats encircle the playing field in a color scheme faintly reminiscent of the Astros tequila sunrise unis.
One more great feature of the Blatt is the fact that it’s one of just a few stadia that don’t feature obnoxious piped in music, but instead features a live, full-time organist.
Time marches on, of course, and to use another cliche, all good things must come to an end. So too it is with baseball at the Blatt. The 2010 season will see the last CWS there, as it, and the current tenant, the Omaha Royals, will be vacating the premises for 2011. The College World Series of Omaha, Inc., the local non-profit organizing body, determined in 2005 that it would cost at least $25 million in future improvements to Rosenblatt Stadium to ensure it would continue to be a viable venue to host the NCAA baseball championship. Instead of refurbishing the Blatt, on April 30, 2009, the city of Omaha and the NCAA agreed on a memorandum of understanding, outlining a preliminary agreement to keep the World Series in Omaha for another 25 years (through 2035).
Unfortunately, that agreement stipulated that the series be moved to the new downtown stadium by 2011. Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the CWS since 1950, will be torn down after the 2010 season, with its land slated to become a parking lot for Omaha’s zoo — it will be part of an overall expansion of the zoo that will include a new visitor’s center and a new Arctic exhibit on what is now the Zoo’s primary parking area east of 10th Street. The new ballpark will be built next to the Qwest Center and open in 2011. Of course, that new stadium will not be named Rosenblatt Stadium II, but another corporately-sponsored park — TD Ameritrade Park. The O-Royals will also be getting new digs, but unfortunately, not in Omaha — they’ll be moving into the tentatively-named Sarpy County Ballpark, located in Papillion, Nebraska.
The O-Royals, for their final season in the Blatt will be sporting a commemorative sleeve patch. Too bad the teams can’t wear one of these awesome t-shirts instead. Hey — maybe Paul & Chris can come up with an I Still Call It The Blatt shirt in memoriam. I’d probably get one.
While I’m not a huge fan of the College World Series, I do watch it when I can (something about metal bats, particularly the “ping,” just doesn’t do it for me). This year the bracket looks like this, and the eight teams who have reached it (Florida, UCLA, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arizona State, Clemson, TCU and Florida State) will continue to battle it out through the weekend, with the best 2 out of 3 final beginning Monday night. Normally, my predecessor on the UW Bench, Bryan Redemske, provides us with a nice breakdown of the CWS and the unis, but Paul informed me on Thursday that unfortunately, he’s too busy for that rundown this year. Feel free to use the comment section below to post and discuss the unis of the teams involved — some of them, particularly UCLA, have some pretty sweet unis. Others, like South Carolina and Florida State are fine as well. Others…not so much.
How much money is a good instructor worth? Perhaps we’ll never know. Here’s Rick:
Defense is important. Never sell it short. Give ’em only three outs an inning, that’s the goal. Gotta have a goal. Even, y’know, if it’s borderline unattainable.
Here’s your Saturday Benchies.
Back at the beginning of the 2010 season, I announced the 2010 Uni Tracking that a number of us do. Last year, I devoted about four full weekend columns to it, and that was probably a bit much for most of us to take in one dose, so this year, I’ll occasionally post the updated tracking of certain teams as the trackers send them in. So, if you’ve been doing your due diligence with your team, send me your mid-season tracking reports, and I’ll post them as a “sub article” on the weekends. OK? OK!
Last weekend featured the Rockies, and this weekend we have an entry from Jordan Wiley, who is tracking the Northsiders. Jordan didn’t provide me with any kind of writeup (the chart speaks for itself), but as of last weekend, the Cubs weren’t particularly good when wearing their traditional road grays, and they had yet to wear the blue softball top over the pinstriped pants. Hmmmm. Here’s a screenshot of Jordan’s tracking.
While he didn’t include an analysis, he did include a nice note:
Thanks for your weekend articles. Also, in light of the recent criticisms of the site throughout every comment section, I just want to say that I truly appreciate all the hard work that you and Paul do, regardless of whether I find every single item interesting. You guys put up a wonderful website. Thank you.
No, Jordan. Thank you.
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots to get to, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way. Still finding the tweaks have slowed to a trickle, so if you have something you’d like to show, give me a shout.
Just one huge set of tweaks today, and it comes from Daniel Rerko, who actually sent along eighty-seven NFL separate tweaks. Says Daniel, “I am sending you a gallery of 87 uniform tweaks for NFL teams on Flickr. Some of them are terrible, but some of them turned out pretty well. I hope you enjoy!” We’ll just divide those up into several different subsets, which we’ll look at over the next few weeks, but some of them are actually quite interesting. For the first batch, here we go:
Giants-Away jersey stripes on home: I took the red stripes from the away jersey and put in on the home jersey, very simple.
Giants-No stripes on home or away: No sleeves on the home uniform, so there are no sleeves on the away.
Giants-Simplified, Two helmet logos, red numbers: I just liked the two-logo helmet idea. The rest is garbage.
Giants-Michigan Style Helmet: I like the Michigan style helmet, and I wouldn’t hate seeing an NFL team with it.
Dolphins-Consistency in uniforms: Just added consistency.
Bengals-Away jersey same as others: More consistencey in the Bengals unis. They need it.
Bengals-White tiger set: Hey, their regulars suck just as much!
Steelers-1966 uniform: The Andy Russell-Era uniform. BATMAN!
Steelers-Block numbers, helmet logo on both sides: Pittsburgh is a team that needs block numbers.
Bears-Based on new alt: Inspired by the recent alt.
Dolphins-Little things: Got bored, played with the collars, socks and sleeves.
Jaguars- LA Sharks (after move): When the Jaguars leave Jacksonville, they need a more appropriate Los Angeles name. Sharks will do.
Jaguars- LA Grizzlies (after move): When the Jaguars leave Jacksonville, they need a more appropriate Los Angeles name. There is a bear on the state flag of California. Grizzlies.
Seahawks-Old Colors, new logo, simplified: It just looks good…
Ravens-MD state flag colors: Because nobody looks tough in purple. The Maryland state flag had some good colors, and they work for the Ravens.
Falcons-White helmet, old logo: Combination of the dirty bird look and the good old red-helmeted uniforms.
Bills-Based on Alt, blue helmet: The Bills haven’t had a good looking blue helmet. Minor modifications to the logo, and this would be good to go.
Vikings-Old uniform, shoulder stripes on both: Taking the 90’s uniform, which had the sleeve stripes on the away, and put those stripes on the home.
That’s all for today. We’ll have more from Daniel next weekend. Keep those tweaks coming!
Fresh of the golf course, where he *says* he “Shot 74. Four bogies, one birdie, 13 pars, 9 beers. Successful day,” the inimitable Ben Traxel (yes, those are his Giants rups and square-toed shoes) is back for more musings and missives.
Favorite baseball card of the week. 1973 John Ellis. Team unknown.
Most of the College World Series uniforms look pretty good but this one kind of blows it for everyone. And (ssshhh) I like purple.
Some day I’m a gonna DIY this farrrgin thing.
Stadiaiumia pic of the week.
It would be a site to see if this were actually built.
I don’t care how hideous Olympic Stadium was, or that it was an engineering failure. It was still pioneering. Actually, it does have some Jetson’s attractiveness to it — at least on the exterior. Never seen a good pic of the innards.
Gotta mention that tennis match. Whoa. Same night our band of 8-10 year olds survived a marathon as well. All 16 innings. That’s 10 extras that most parents hadn’t planned on spending in the dusty 95 degree heat. Coaching 3rd, I learned something. Don’t yell at a sweaty fussy mom’s little Johnny for taking a third strike off a pitching machine. Won’t do that again. We lost 14-11 but at least we looked good in our custom rups from Comrade Marshall. Authentic replicas will be unveiled soon here. www.robertmarshallart.com Game warns available too. Make offer.
Some serious yardage in them stripes.
That John Wall Wizards draft hat sure was rank.
Feather and tar me all you want, but the softball tops don’t look half bad when accessorized by below the knee stripes.
I know those training camp red don’t hit me I’m a wussy quarterback jerseys serve a purpose, but personally they disgust me.
NASCAR have any ideas? Hmmm.
Nice site upgrades Lukas and Ek! Ever wonder how much productivity throughout the land gets stagnated on a daily basis due to this whole charade? Sure would make me smile.
Thanks Ben. Always good to have those deep thoughts.
That will do it for this fine Saturday. Don’t forget there’s that soccer thing going on this afternoon (USA vs. Ghana, 2:30 pm, EDT on ABC), the next to last (thankfully) of the Interplague series, and Wimbledon and more. And then there’s the A’s doing that Turn Back The Clock disco thingy where they will be sporting the monochrome gold uni (that was, I believe, worn only once, in an All-Star Game, by Vida Blue — but I could be wrong). Can’t wait to see how badly they butcher that one. Good times, good times, indeed.
met the queen of england today …. she said she loved me in the american pie movies — Tweet from Andy Roddick @ Wimbledon