As every college baseball fan knows knows – and the past two weeks’ blogs have shown – the College World Series would not be what it is today without the stadium that saw the CWS grow into a national phenomenon. During its 60 years as host stadium (1950-2010), first as Municipal Stadium and then Rosenblatt, the Blatt itself grew to become a dear local treasure and revered national icon.
Conversations about building a new stadium began as early as 2003, and were met with strong criticism from many. A “Save Rosenblatt” campaign was launched in 2007 that produced a TV commercial featuring Kevin Costner. The official recommendation to build a new stadium was ultimately announced in 2008.
As part of the Douglas County Historical Society’s initiative to actively collect and document history in the making, representatives attended events at the 2010 College World Series – the last at Rosenblatt – and recorded interviews from fans. Today, we would like to focus on the words of the Omahans and fans from around the country who shared wonderful memories of the CWS and Rosenblatt Stadium.
The crew was lucky enough to get some really wonderful, unique memories and stories from people who had grown up around Rosenblatt in its early days and have childhood memories of older versions of the stadium before its renovations:
Angie talks about her memories of playing under Rosenblatt’s wooden bleachers in the 1970’s.
Bill remembers working at the stadium as a vendor in the 1970’s and watching the scoreboard from his backyard.
Jerry has memories all the way back to the 1952 CWS. He played at Rosenblatt as a child, and has seen all kinds of greats come through the stadium.
Sue recalls sitting in the bleachers along the third baseline and dangling her feet into the infield during games.
They also ran into people who had histories even more closely intertwined with the stadium:
Donna – remember the news article on Franck Mancuso last week? Donna was his wife, and tells about how he would sleep at the stadium during the CWS in case he needed to pull the tarp in the middle of the night.
Doug sold programs and he and his father each ran the scoreboard for the CWS from 1960-1989.
Frank came to Omaha in 1960 and 1961 as a shortstop and third baseman for Boston College.
Marylin’s husband is the official scorer for the CWS, and her children would work the Series and live at Donna Mancuso’s house.
One aspect that was reiterated over and over throughout the interviews was the kind of special camaraderie that existed at Rosenblatt games. Several people shared amazing stories about coming to a game and being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right people:
Bob’s daughter needed a transplant, and had seats near someone who knew the brother of the head of the transplant center here in Omaha.
Ryan was offered a free ticket to the game of a lifetime by a stranger.
Sherri has built a “second family” of Texas fans over the years.
Valerie has experienced a couple of small-world coincidences at Rosenblatt..
Some of the most powerful interviews came from newcomers who had never attended a game in person before. They had come in 2010 because it was Rosenblatt’s last year and they wanted to experience the legendary atmosphere while they could:
Barb came from Chicago to see the stadium, and wishes she could keep coming back.
Holly knew the stadium very well from pictures, so seeing Rosenblatt was like visiting a historical landmark.
[Name not stated] This interviewee didn’t give his name, but he had to make the “pilgrimage” to Rosenblatt, and seeing the stadium was an emotional experience.
Next week will be our final installation to this month-long series on the CWS. We’ll have a look at the newest history that’s been made at TD Ameritrade Park and provide a wider view of the relationship between Omaha business and the College World Series.