On the Road: A Muddy Hello and Teary Goodbye in Omaha
I attended the final game in the history of 62-year-old Rosenblatt Stadium tonight, in which the Omaha Royals defeated the visiting Round Rock Express by a score of 6-2 in front of an announced crowd of 23, 795 (!)
As a strong proponent of making the figurative literal, I’ll lead with this pic of the sun setting on Rosenblatt:
It was an emotional evening, one punctuated by celebrity guests, commemorative giveaways, and, of course, fireworks.
But you know what I’ll probably remember most? That I attended this game wearing mud-caked, soaking wet sneakers. This was the residual effect of previously having visited the construction site of the O-Royals future home, located amidst the cornfields of nearby Sarpy County.
Trust me, it was gloppy as-all-get-out over there. The pictures don’t do it justice, but for the rest of the day I was like “call me Alowishus Devadander Abercrombie” because, you know, that’s long for mud.
But that’s enough about Claypools. I received a tour of the new facility from project engineer Michael Keller, who is overseeing construction on behalf of general contractor Weitz (there will be an article about all of this up on MiLB.com shortly, so please forgive the relative lack of detail).
The bleachers are the only seating areas that have been installed as of yet. That’s “Building Nine” behind the bleachers, which will include the home and visiting clubhouses.
I truly am intrigued by the unorthodox clubhouse placement, but I’m including this second pic of building nine primarily to show how muddy it was.
The view from the outfield:
Seats and Suites:
But the coolest thing of all was this mound of red dirt, just waiting to be applied to the warning track:
Soon it was time to depart this Martian landscape, in favor of the festivities going on at Rosenblatt. I got to the ballpark two and a half hours before gametime, and already there were hordes of people lined up outside of the stadium.
Please, keep any and all risque inflatable mascot comments to yourself:
One of the reasons I got to the ballpark so early was to interview some of the illustrious special guests. After getting past the armed guard at the North Pavilion, I was able to speak with Frank White, Willie Wilson, Dennis Leonard, and Paul Splittorff.
Footage of these interviews (and the festivities in general) will hopefully surface at some point in the near future. For now, here’s a shot of Leonard, Splittorff, and Wilson on the field prior to the ballgame:
More distinguished alums:
Meanwhile, the stadium was filling up fast. Rosenblatt’s seating area is very accommodating to large groups of fans. The concourse, not so much.
And, last game ever or not, it was above all a Thirsty Thursday. The beer lines were rob
On account of also hosting the College World Series, Rosenblatt boasts a comically large capacity for a Minor League park. What other team would be able to sell this kind of signage?
Scenes from ’round the Blatt:
Rosenblatt’s last ever Dizzy Bat Race:
Mascots in the Press Box, which was coincidentally the name of a post-rock band I formed back in my college days:
Long-time groundskeeper Jesse Cuevas addressed the crowd in a moving post-game speech, holding back tears while chanting “Viva La Rosenblatt!”
This set the stage for Steve Rosenblatt, son of stadium namesake and former mayor Johnny. Armed with a personalized Louisville slugger, the septuagenarian said goodbye to Rosenblatt with a ceremonial last hit (pitching was none other Tom Kelly, left, whose grandfather took the mound in the first-ever game at Rosenblatt).
And that was that for Rosenblatt. Eventually, the facility will be demolished and the land will be used by the nearby Henry Doorly Zoo.
Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset…