With South Carolina defeating UCLA 2-1 Tuesday night for their first national title ever in baseball, it came with an unfortunate end of an era. The College World Series has been played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska since 1950. The College World Series and the name Rosenblatt is synonymous throughout the years in college baseball. But Tuesday night’s game between South Carolina and UCLA was the last game ever played at that grand ballpark.

Despite many efforts to save Rosenblatt, including promotional videos from Kevin Costnar, the CWS will move to a new ballpark in downtown Omaha next summer. I’m sure it will have fantastic features and amenities along with a new corporate name, but who cares? All of that is exactly what’s wrong with today’s game and today in general, but that’s an argument for another day. I’m focusing on the tradition of Rosenblatt Stadium in this post.

This morning I read a post on Yahoo’s Big League Stew on the closing of Rosenblatt that stated:

The ‘Blatt is one of the ultimate you-had-to-be-here-to-appreciate-it sporting venues. And admit it: Most baseball fans never made the trip.

Well, I can say with great pride that I was fortunate enough to make the trip at least once with a couple of crazy co-workers while I was working for a minor league baseball team in 2007. The trip began like all the great ones do—with a spontaneous idea. By lunch time, the plans were beginning to materialize and by sundown, we were on our way west out of Michigan and on the road to Omaha. We only saw one game, the first game of the Oregon State-North Carolina championship series, but it was enough for us. Making the trip even for one day was worth it to be able to say we were there for an event like the CWS.

Dusk at Rosenblatt

Rosenblatt Stadium is one of the great baseball experiences not only on the college level but in the game anywhere…period. It was tradition, old school and an experience that you just don’t see anywhere else these days, which is all the more sad that it’s going away.

The ballpark is located in a unique way on a hill smack dab in the middle of residential neighborhoods. Houses across the street give up their lawns for memorabilia sales, bars pop up on sidewalks in makeshift tents and true fans of the game fill the streets everywhere. Sure, the downtown ballpark will offer numerous chain restaurants and bars at every corner, but it will never be the same as the diamond on the hill.

It was fitting that the last game at The ‘Blatt came down in dramatic fashion with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 11th inning. A bittersweet ending in the story of Rosenblatt Stadium.

I guess I should find some solace in the fact that the CWS will remain in the city of Omaha at least for years to come, but it will be hard to watch in a new ballpark and not Rosenblatt. I’m glad that I had the chance to live the Rosenblatt tradition, and even as brief as the trip I made was, it’s an experience I will never forget.

Goodbye, Rosenblatt.

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