From the Archives: Rosenblatt, the later years

Here we are at the last 30 years of Rosenblatt. I plan to post three more blogs on the stadium. After all, we can’t forget the College World Series, the music or the fans!

What we’ve covered so far:

Municipal Stadium’s early years

Rosenblatt, 1964-1980

 

1994 aerial photo. JAMES R. BURNETT/THE WORLD-HERALD

Many renovations were made to accommodate the College World Series and the fans who loved it. More bleacher seats were added in 1982 and 1983. In 1987, $3.4 million was invested to make stadium improvements requested by the NCAA and ensure the series would remain in Omaha through 1990.

That effort, the “Let’s Go to Bat for Rosenblatt” campaign, aimed to raise $775,000 in public donations to go along with the city’s seat tax to match a $1.7 million grant from the Peter Kiewit Foundation. The campaign enlisted a heavy hitter.

At a September 1987 luncheon for the "Let's Go to Bat for Rosenblatt" fundraising campaign, former Nebraska football coach Bob Devaney urged Omahans "not to drop the ball." RICH JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

Former Husker football coach and NU athletic director Bob Devaney used a football metaphor during a fundraising appearance at the Civic Auditorium. “This isn’t the time for a fumble. This is the time to get it in the end zone,” he said. “The College World Series is as important as any bowl game or playoff championship. This lends so much interest and brings so many dollars into the community. It’s important we don’t let it slip from our hands. Once it’s gone, we won’t get it back.”

Improvements to add seats and modernize Rosenblatt’s appearance continued as the years went on.

 

Omaha Royals owner Gus Cherry, Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle and College World Series of Omaha Inc. President Jack Diesing Sr. break ground in 1986 for an addition on the south side of the stadium that became new offices for the minor league team and a meeting room. PHIL JOHNSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

Jesse Cuevas removes home plate after the season's final game on Sept. 4, 1991. The next day, $8 million in renovations began. The work included installing a drainage system and rebuilding the playing surface. JEFF BUNDY/THE WORLD-HERALD

The addition of new Stadium View Club in 1992 allowed fans to find comfort while watching a game. THE WORLD-HERALD

Construction worker Scott Knight puts down new cinders in left field in front of new scoreboard in 1993. ED RATH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Rosenblatt's last scoreboard was installed in 2006. This photo was taken at the final game of the last College World Series held at Rosenblatt in 2010. The scoreboard now sits at Omaha Burke High School's stadium. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

One of Rosenblatt's more distinctive signboards was the Marlboro Man, which stood in left-center field into the 1990s. RICH JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

The most nationally recognized feature of Rosenblatt was added in 1999 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CWS. “Road to Omaha” was sculpted by artist John Lajba. It was moved to TD Ameritrade Park after Rosenblatt closed.

Fireworks light up the sky north of Rosenblatt Stadium after the College World Series' opening celebration in 1999. JEFF BEIERMANN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Artist John Lajba of Omaha puts the final glaze on the "Road to Omaha" sculpture in his studio in 1999. CHRISTINE THOMPSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

While the College World Series was proving to be a valuable asset to Omaha, professional players and other events were taking the field at Rosenblatt.

In 1971, Bill Gorman became the Omaha Royals' general manager, a job he held for 30 years. He is shown here in 1983 outside of Rosenblatt. ROBERT PASKACH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Omaha's Russ Morman, left, and Harvey Pulliam celebrate the team's series win over Rochester in the 1990 Triple-A Classic. JEFF BUNDY/THE WORLD-HERALD

Fans in the crowd seek autographs from Kansas City players during a 1985 exhibition game. MEL EVANS/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

And as noted before, it wasn’t just baseball that was played in the stadium.

Workers prepare Roseblatt Stadium for a truck and tractor pull in 1987. Workers spread some of the 9,000 pounds of hay that makes up part of the track. MEL EVANS/THE WORLD-HERALD

Lambert Bartak was the organist at Rosenblatt for more than 50 years. He is shown here in 1988. CHRIS YOUNG/THE WORLD-HERALD

The incident that prompted the Mickey Mouse ears shown above happened on May 26, 1988. Tony Maners, the chief of the three-man umpire crew, was discussing a pitch call with Omaha catcher Larry Owen, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez and Omaha manager Glenn Ezell when Bartak started playing the M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E song. Maners was not happy and demanded Bartak be ejected from the game. Bartak was unaware of it and continued to play between innings until Maners stopped the game and told officials that if Bartak played one more note, the umpires would leave. Bartak went home.

 

Below, watch Bartak’s last rendition of “Take me out to the ball game,” shot by World-Herald photographer Chris Machian on June 29, 2010.

 

The Omaha Royals' new mascot, Casey, was debuted at the team's season opener against Tacoma at Rosenblatt Stadium on April 4, 2002. LAURA INNS/THE WORLD-HERALD

Get it? Casey at the ‘Blatt?

 

In a pregame ceremony in August 1998, Lee Baney, a member of the Lincoln Sport Parachute Club, sails into Rosenblatt Stadium carrying a banner announcing the team's new name. PHIL JOHNSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

In 1999, the Omaha Royals changed their name to the Golden Spikes. The change lasted three seasons before the Royals went back to their original name.

 

Mayor Hal Daub swings a mock sledgehammer at a golden spike symbolizing the team's new name at Rosenblatt Stadium on Aug. 30, 1998. PHIL JOHNSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

There was always fun to be had at the Royals games. and everyone loved to participate, even this big guy around town:

Warren Buffett throws out the first pitch for the Omaha Royals' 1993 home opener in Rosenblatt Stadium. JEFF BUNDY/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

And then there were the themed days.

Zach Gansebom of Watertown, S.D., and Cory Nordhausen of Omaha race on choppers in a Royals promotional race in 2004. They attended the game as part of a corporate teambuilding outing with Farm Credit Services of Omaha. Gansebom won the race. JAMES R. BURNETT/THE WORLD-HERALD

Daniel Tunender of Fremont, Neb., emerges from the Ironman obstacle course at the Family Fun Festival at Rosenblatt in 2004. KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

Rosenblatt’s final months …

 

From right, Omaha Royals manager Mike Jirschele, coach Tommy Gregg and coach Doug Henry watch a flyover at Rosenblatt Stadium before the Omaha Royals play the Round Rock Express on the final night of baseball at the stadium on Sept. 2, 2010. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

Steve Rosenblatt, , the son of former Omaha mayor and city councilman Johnny Rosenblatt for whom the stadium was renamed in 1964, warms up before hitting a ceremonial final pitch by Tom Kelley after the game. ALYSSA SCHUKAR / THE WORLD-HERALD

Steve Rosenblatt, the son of former Omaha mayor and city councilman Johnny Rosenblatt, for whom the stadium was renamed in 1964, warms up before hitting a ceremonial final pitch after the last game. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

John Stella, left, and Steve Cavlovic hold a plaque that is now on display at Brown Park in Omaha. The World War II memorial that had hung at Rosenblatt Stadium was discarded years before the stadium was shut down. KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD

Sarah Fili, right, and Ingrid Carpenter, both with Auctions Solutions, look at photos Carpenter took of Sarah with one of the home plates after the completion of the auction of Rosenblatt Stadium memorabilia on June 23, 2011. MATT MILLER/THE WORLD-HERALD

Tom Watson of Ocala, Fla., gets some of the warning-track dirt from Rosenblatt Stadium during the auction of Rosenblatt Stadium memorabilia on June 23, 2011. MATT MILLER/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

Stay tuned for more posts on Rosenblatt. But if you can’t wait, you can find more photos and the stories behind them in our book “Rosenblatt Stadium: Omaha’s Diamond on the Hill.” The book is wonderfully and lovingly written by our very own Steve Pivovar.

Up next: Rosenblatt and the College World Series

Jolene McHugh

About Jolene McHugh

I was a graphic artist prior to coming to the Omaha World-Herald in 2007, and now I’m a photo imaging specialist, which means I prepare photos to print properly in the newspaper. I also have the incredibly fun task of restoring old photographs from our massive library. My favorite part of my job is getting lost in the history and stories behind the photographs. Many of the archive photos have little or no information attached, so I need to properly date and identify the people and places in them. Researching the stories is a bit like being on a historical scavenger hunt. The largest challenge I face is restoring photos we run in our books. Our newest book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War” is filled with hundreds of old photographs, and most of them small and in poor condition. I live in Omaha with my husband, one of my daughters and three very furry Maine Coon cats.
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