Category Archives: Baseball

All that’s left of Rosenblatt Stadium


RosenblattInfieldZoo1

Family matters drew me back to Omaha for the Fourth of July holiday in 2017, so I paid a visit to the Infield at the Zoo memorial at the original site of Rosenblatt Stadium. Below are a few pics and thoughts from my visit. (Click pics for larger view.)

Back story: What happened to Rosenblatt Stadium?

Immediately evident is the high level of creativity and planning that went into the memorial. It’s a scaled down, family-friendly wiffle ball field that gives current and future generations a taste of the Rosenblatt experience.

When I arrived with my wife and her brother, we were the only ones there. Without question, the most prominent feature of the memorial is the massive arched Rosenblatt sign that once hovered behind the left field bleachers. It’s now propped considerably lower on a brick wall that stands roughly where the baseline between second and third bases laid.

Rosenblatt-Arch-sign-plaque

Aluminum bleachers from the infamous general admission sections now serve as benches in simulated dugouts. As I took a seat on the first base dugout bench, I envisioned tiny tots running the bases after a trip to the adjacent Henry Doorly Zoo. I could also imagine twentysomethings gathering after work for a few innings of pickup wiffle ball while hydrating with adult beverages.

A few minutes before we left, a family lined the third base dugout bench, broke out their sack lunches and soaked in the vibes as they ate. My hunch is they were taking a lunch break from their day at the zoo.

Rosenblatt’s home plate is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame museum in Cooperstown, NY so a replica now sits where the original was. The bases for the wiffle ball diamond are much closer to home plate than the standard 90 feet for college and pro games that were played here.

A nice touch of the new park’s design are three concrete “base bags” that rest atop yard-high brick columns where first, second and third bases would have been. Both foul poles remain exactly where they stood for decades at the end of the third and first base lines.

Visitors to the memorial can relax behind the “outfield” in one of the 100 or so colorful seats held back when the stadium was demolished in 2012.

Sadly, the infield turf appeared to be suffering from neglect. The grass was a very pale shade of green and a variety of broadleaf weeds had filled the cavities of sparsely turfed areas. Such condition would have never been allowed during the tenure of Rosenblatt’s veteran groundskeeper Jesse Cuevas.

Having seen the situation first hand, it is apparent that the primary reason Rosenblatt Stadium no longer exists is that the Henry Doorly – Nebraska’s top attraction by far – needed more space for parking. By noon on the Monday I went, visitors’ cars were already bulging out of expanded parking area that now includes the former Rosenblatt grounds. I estimated that the zoo was taking in a minimum of $50 per car in admission fees alone. Multiply that by a thousand new parking spaces (conservatively) and we’re talking increased revenues of $50,000+ per day. Tack on money spent for food, souvenirs and attractions inside the zoo and the numbers tell the rest of the story.

Parting thoughts: Its better than nothing. If you’ve read other posts in this blog, you know I was a huge fan of Rosenblatt Stadium and was a vocal proponent for keeping it around. I’ve been to the new stadium and still feel Rosenblatt was better. I am also a businessman and understand how strategic decisons are made. We all face disappointments in life that we have to move on from. I’m moving on. Visiting the Infield at the Zoo did not bring me joy. It didn’t cause pain either. I guess if Rosenblatt Stadium is no longer there, all that’s left is better than nothing.

By Paul Fiarkoski

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Filed under Baseball, College World Series, History

Remembering Rosenblatt guru Steve Pivovar


As I meandered around the Infield at the Zoo monument at the sight where Rosenblatt Stadium once stood, I came across a plaque that touched my heart more than any other feature on display.

The plaque reads:

Steve Pivovar was a sports writer for the Omaha World-Herald for 45 years. He was a loyal son of South Omaha and covered many sports at the World-Herald, but his passion was baseball and he was a good friend and guardian of the College World Series and Rosenblatt Stadium. Known for his old-school work ethic, he covered 500 consecutive CWS games and his spirit lives on here with the players and coaches he followed. 1952 – 2016


Here are some excerpts from Pivovar’s obituary in the Omaha World-Herald:

  • Pivovar’s commitment is best illustrated in his dispatches from Rosenblatt Stadium. He covered approximately 1,700 games at the stadium, writing about the CWS and Omaha Royals.
  • “Maybe it was South Omaha roots, but Pivovar didn’t believe in shortcuts. You earned your way. You showed up early and stayed late,” said Eric Olson of the Associated Press.
  • In 2010, Pivovar penned “Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha’s Diamond on the Hill,” a World-Herald book that became a collector’s item for CWS junkies.

Read Steve Pivovar’s complete obituary on omaha.com>>

I met Steve in the Rosenblatt Stadium press box in 2010 during my blogfest of the last College World Series held at the Blatt. We had exchanged pleasantries a few times via social media and we shared a brotherhood in being S.O.B.s (South Omaha Boys). Like Steve, I had also worked for the Omaha World-Herald; as a newspaper carrier in my youth, then as an advertising intern in college.

During the epic Oklahoma – South Carolina rain delay I introduced myself to Steve and asked if he would autograph a copy of his book I had purchased. He obliged, but only after escorting me from his front row seat of the press section up to a small room that housed packets of team stats and other info. He said he didn’t like to do “that sort of thing” in the working area. Here was a legendary journalist exercising a great act of humility in the midst of his peers.

Even though Steve had literally written the book on Rosenblatt memories, he thanked me for the work I was doing and encouraged me to keep it up. I became an instant fan of Steve and his work. I continued to follow his stories up until his health would no longer allow him to work. Today, I am honored to have met Steve and worked in his presence. I still pick up the book and thumb through it from time to time.

Rest in peace, good man. Rest in peace.

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Filed under Baseball, College World Series, History, Social Media, Tributes