Over the past several decades, Rosenblatt Stadium has become synonymous with the College World Series. Every June, sportscasters and former baseball standouts were shown calling the championship games with periodic pans of the packed house crowd and the infamous desert dome at the zoo in the near distance over the right field wall. That was the world view of Rosenblatt.
The experience I had with my family at Rosenblatt in the summer of 2007 was more consistent with the experience most locals have had at Rosenblatt. It occured on a balmy Saturday night in August. The Omaha Royals, farm club of the team in Kansas City, were playing a AAA opponent that wore uniforms of a color I cannot remember. Honestly, I don’t have a clue who they played. None of that mattered to us really. Sure, we knew there was a game being played on the field. But there were far too many distractions around us to pay attention to the game. Who can focus on baseball when you have snow cones, cotton candy, popcorn and hilarious fan contests diverting your attention?
No draw, no crowd
With the exception of a few appearances by George Brett when he was still playing, the O Royals were never a big draw. Tack a special event such as a country music star or fireworks on to the final out and a respectable number of fans (rarely more than 10,000) would show. (By comparison, College World Series games often draw around 20,000.) Personally, the most memorable draw for me was The Chicken, the bright red and yellow feathery mascot formerly known as the San Diego Chicken. My older brother took me to a Royals game to see The Chicken when I was about twelve years old. I was in stitches watching him repeatedly abuse the umpires.
On the occasion of our family outing in 2007, there was apparently no such draw. If the official fan attendance was recorded at 3,000 I would argue stadium workers inflated the number. So we did what many locals do. We gained entrance with our $5 general admission tickets and picked up a few goodies at the no-waiting concession stands.
An out or two into the bottom half of the first inning we emerged from the tunnel just to the first-base side of home plate and made our way to some seats. They weren’t our seats, but it was clear they belonged to nobody else either.
Our VIP package
After one quick scan of the stands, it took me only a few seconds as our gang’s leader to conclude we could pretty well choose any seats we wanted. There was that little voice of guilt in my head that whispered, “don’t do it.” Quick to overpower that pesky noise was the logical voice, “Out of respect for the players, fill up some seats behind home plate.” Logic won out.
We took our places in the red seats about twenty rows behind the first base side on-deck circle. A group of twelve of us – myself and Wendi (my wife), our two girls, their cousins, some friends and their kids. We created our own group VIP package right there, all clustered up close to the stairs and in the rows immediately above the walkway that separates box seat ticket holders from everyone else. The view of the field and the horizon was great! We didn’t need the benefit of the stadium announcer. We could hear the players, coaches and umps just fine.
Since we were back in Omaha for only the second day of our week-long summer vacation, it was a great opportunity to chat and catch up on how everyone was doing. The kids kept themselves entertained by making up chants and cheers and trying out different vantage points of the game from other seats in our immediate vicinity. It was a great night for baseball. I couldn’t tell you what the score was, or who won for that matter, but the memories stuck.
My kids and their cousins still talk about that night. How the ushers, vendors and even Casey (the mascot) kept coming to harrass us – in a good way. How they took turns climbing up on the legendary statue to have their picture taken. How we giggled and tried to avoid the sidewalk cracks as we treked three blocks back to Grandma’s house after the game. A classic night at Rosenblatt, indeed.
I love this pic too much not to share: