Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska will go down in my book as one of the great venues in all of sports.
On the same list with Yankee Stadium, Fenway Stadium and Wrigley Field. Sure, it doesn't the name recognition, or the prestige as those historic parks. But it has hosted more World Series than all three combined. The "Blatt" as it's known to locals hosted the College World Series every year since 1950. It introduced us to Barry Bonds (ASU), Nomar Garicaparra (GA Tech), Will Clark (Miss St.), Dave Winfield (Minn.) and Huston Street (Tex) before we ever saw them suit up in the big leagues. Tuesday night, we said goodbye to the legendary park when South Carolina won the 2010 College World Series with an extra-inning, thrilling 2-1 win over UCLA. It seemed as though the park didn't want to let go when the game went to the 10th inning. Holding on to give baseball fans a few more minutes to soak in the magic of "The Blatt."
I had the privilege of experiencing the magic of the College World Series and Rosenblatt stadium as a young sports anchor/reporter at KCAU-TV early in my career. I saw LSU beat Stanford in 2000, Miami beat Stanford in 2001 and Texas beat South Carolina in 2002 in national championship games. But the true magic is the two weeks leading up to the National Title Game. Eight teams, "back home in Omaha" (that's what they say at the CWS) with truckloads of fans from all corners of the United States. Row after row of RV's pack the stadium for a two-week tailgate party that lasts from dawn to dawn (24-hour party). Fans of each team cook, drink and cheer (heckle, too) with whomever wants to join. It's all a part of the June pageantry in Omaha.
Here's hoping the pageantry doesn't fade when the "Blatt" crumbles to the ground and the CWS moves to a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium across town next summer. At the same time, I hope some of that magic stays where it belongs.... with the baseball-rich soil where Rosenblatt Stadium currently stands.
The College World Series is one of the true gems in sports. I encourage all baseball fans to take a road trip to Omaha to witness the fun first hand. I know I'll be "back home in Omaha" some time soon.
Check out this story I did back in 2001 on a Stanford pitcher who made a terminally-ill kid's day (click on this link to be directed to my facebook page to watch) http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/jesse.kurtzkktv?v=wall