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Rosenblatt Stadium’s most electrifying moment: the Matt Curry (TCU) grand slam of 2010

Let me start by acknowledging Warren Morris‘ walk-off homer to win the 1996 College World Series championship game for LSU was likely the most spectacular moment at Rosenblatt. With all due respect, I contend that most electrifying moment is described below.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that the moment described below was, for me, the most spectacular AND electrifying moment in sports I have personally witnessed – in person or on TV.

The hole in one, the seventy-yard field goal, the grand slam. There are few athletic feats as rare and hard to attain as these. Players dream about them. Fans long for them. They happen, but so rarely that when they do we, the sports community, never let them be forgotten.

And so, what first baseman Matt Curry and his team of TCU Horned Frogs did at Rosenblatt Stadium on Wednesday night, June 23, 2010, will be remembered forever. A legendary moment at Omaha’s legendary diamond on the hill.

Two outs into the top of the eighth inning, TCU found themselves in a spot not unfamiliar to them: down by three runs in a do or die situation against an opponent (Florida State) far superior in baseball tradition and experience. Indeed, it was by winning a game of this magnitude that the Frogs advanced to the final College World Series to be played at this fabled field of dreams.

We’ll always remember how Curry’s moment in history was set up by Jason Coats. Down by three in the top of the eighth, two on, two outs, tying run at the plate, full count. Next pitch by Florida State’s Mike McGee missed the strike zone. Ball four, bases loaded.

Up to the plate walks Curry, his moment in College World Series history just a few cuts away. With all hopes of staying in the tournament riding on one pitch, Curry faced the same two outs, full-count situation as Coats. Everyone in attendance was on their feet, save a few FSU fans, cheering with all their might. The buzz was electric. The delivery, the swing, the contact, the feeling, the roar. It all happened just like that!

Watch the amateur video captured from the stands>>

Curry knew it was outta here. Few others did. Frogs Coach Schlossnagle’s stomach dropped when he saw Florida State outfielder Tyler Holt camped out underneath the ball in center field. Holt later told Curry he didn’t even know where the ball was. He lost it in the twilight.

The camera saw it. That is until it left not just the field, but  the entire stadium. The ball sliced right through the small gap between the right field bleachers and the center field concession stand roof. Who retrieved perhaps the greatest home run ball to ever fly out of Rosenblatt we thought we would never know.

TCU players mob first baseman Matt Curry after his 2010 grand slam

The Frogs went on to tack on a few more runs and send Florida State home without a championship once again. This happy ending (for TCU) gets even happier. A few days later, the person who retrieved Matt Curry’s magical homerun ball showed up at the Omaha hotel hosting TCU to return the keepsake to Matt.

Story: CWS fan gives back grand slam ball>>


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Rosenblatt Stadium: fan memories reflect the pain of loss

LSU fans 2009

LSU Tigers fans at the 2009 College World Series

Memories of Rosenblatt Stadium some fans have shared on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook:

Last year (2009) was the last CWS. This year is just a 10 day funeral. The city muckety mucks that perpetrated this fraudulent need for a new stadium will milk it as much as possible. The Corporate World Series has begun. Thanks for the memories, Johnny. I guess the right people weren’t making enough money. John F. Holdforth

We’ve been almost every year for the last 15 years with our 5 kids- to them it’s one of the best shows on earth! What’s not to love-college (not pro) baseball, great fans to watch, the zoo next door, nike town, and ZESTOS!!!! So sad when the “big boys” think they can make more money by changing things! Alna Parish

With Rosenblatt closed and the New TD Ameritrade opening, my heart is heavy. Too Many Memories, living on 13th Street for many years and then moving closer to the ballpark to 16th Street, we were always close to all the crowds that would park on the street and after game they would become a parade of people going to their cars and then dinners. It was a simplier time. Too bad money is the movitator to destroy a landmark and to build a ball park without memories of taking your kids and grand kids to the ball game. Your son or daughter working in the stands selling dogs for money to buy school clothes or save for their first car. I will miss Rosenblatt Stadium because of the Memories and the College World Series, the traffic and the SMILING FANS.  Kimberly Jane Peterson-Heier

Saw Arkansas lose to LSU in 2009. I felt overwhelmed by the magic that is Rosenblatt Stadium and wanted more. This past summer, I got to see Games 1 thru 6. Spent all day Sunday during the rain and got to see game 3. They played game 4 on Monday so since I had tickets for that game, I got tickets for games 5 & 6. I’m glad I discovered the CWS and Rosenblatt thanks to ESPN. I sure will miss the Diamond on the Hill. Mike Lustig

Jesse (Cuevas, groundskeeper) never knew who I was, but I looked for him each night – he was part of that park – one night the chicken or some mascot rode a four wheeler over a pitcher’s mound and I thought Jesse was going to lose it – it was a funny sight looking back! Erika Meldrum Harris

Share your memories below or on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook.

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The last meeting of Texas and Arizona State at Rosenblatt Stadium (2009)

Most of my Rosenblatt memories are about the stadium itself, or the fan experience. However, a few baseball moments stand out in my mind. One such moment was the second TexasArizona State matchup of the 2009 College World Series, a game I attended with my wife, Wendi. We had watched the two teams play earlier in the week in a game that would go the Longhorns’ way. Since we were in Omaha on our summer vacation, we took the kids camping for a couple nights at Lake Panorama in central Iowa where my parents spend their summers.

On our drive back to the Big O Friday morning, I received a call from my sister in Omaha who had won some tickets at work to attend the day game between LSU and Arkansas. She wanted me to join her for the game in the box seats just beyond first base. I exercised married guy logic and took only a second to give her the affirmative response, then checked with my wife to see if it was okay.

Wendi (left) with friends Anna and Mary at the rain-delayed day game between LSU & Arkansas

Moments later Wendi received a call from a friend who also landed tickets for the afternoon game – about five rows behind home plate. So here we were, both going to the game on free tickets with hardly any notice. That’s just how it works in Omaha sometimes. We patiently sat a couple hours through a rain delay in our ponchos until they were able to get the game in.

When Wendi and I met up in front of the stadium after the game, I announced that I would like to go to the night game as well. Considering we had driven two hours from Iowa that morning, then sat through about five hours combined of baseball and rain delay, I figured the prospect of a night game would be a hard sell. I figured wrong. By the promptness of her acceptance of my “one more game” proposal, it was evident Wendi had also been bitten by the CWS bug.

Read how we got tickets from an unscalper>>

My date and I made a pitstop at the Curly Fries station and picked up a couple sodas en route to our seats. Then we got acquainted with our neighbors in the upper-most section near the end of the third-base foul line and settled in for some championship baseball.

The sun was now fading behind us and the humidity that was so uncomfortable around 3 pm had burned off. Splendid weather, splendid view.

With it’s rainbow of colors and the varying height of structures, Rosenblatt Stadium was always a treat for the eyes. On this night there was a unique aura about the place. I hadn’t even been drinking and the players seemed to project a sort of glow about them. Based on our position in the stadium, we couldn’t hear the voices of the coaches or players. Even the public address system seemed distant on this night. The crowd noise possessed somewhat of a buzz too. In short, it fealt more as if we were observing the game from heaven than actually participating in the event.

Texas-ASU 2009

Last matchup between Texas & ASU at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium (2009)

Even though a couple innings had passed before we got to our seats, we had missed almost no action. The scoreboard displayed zeros at the top of the third. That was about to change. Arizona State chocked up a run, to be quickly matched by Texas. This back and forth went on through the fifth inning, at which point the game was tied at two a piece. Neither team scored again until the top of the ninth. ASU put up one run and seemed destined to win this thing if Texas didn’t come up with some big bats. They did.

The slow-mo wave
As a spectator I could just sense something special was about to happen. With one out, Texas catcher Cameron Rupp stepped up to the plate. The anxiety was building with this raucous, sold-out Friday night crowd. Almost exactly opposite Rupp in the left-center bleachers, a slow-motion wave spontaneously erupted. I know, the wave shouldn’t be done at baseball games but stick with me.

How the fans to the left of the crew that initiated the wave knew at what pace to join the cause is beyond me, but the sight was spectacular. The wave somehow trickled its way across the break in bleachers at dead center and caterpillared its way across the right field bleachers. It inched along the stands behind the first base line, around the backstop, across the seats behind third, and eventually over to our section.

The suspense and pressure was killing me. At this moment I couldn’t focus on what the count was, or what the batter was doing. I only knew that I could ruin the most perfect wave in college baseball history if I arose from my seat one nanosecond too soon. With the help of my wife, my timing was precise. The wave made it to the end of our row, disappeared for a moment and was picked up perfectly by the watchful fans in left field.

A solo homerun, then a walk-off homer
Eyes back to the field. I only remember seeing Rupp take one swing at the ball. It was the swing that tied the game at threes. Pitch, swing, dink, crowd noise is how I remember it. It happened just as the slow-mow wave made it almost back to it’s origin. After watching the ball launch into the outfield crowd, my wife and I cheered and looked at each other in stunned amazement. Extra innings would extend our long day just a little bit longer – or so we thought.

Connor Rowe had other plans. With the game tied at three, nobody on base and facing two outs, Rowe no doubt knew the kind of pressure I fealt moments earlier with my role in the wave as he approached the plate. Would you believe that just as all eyes focused on Rowe and when the tension couldn’t get any thicker, up popped another slow-motion wave out of left-center field?

Here we go again. The dilemma: do I watch the wave or the batter. I managed to do both. I don’t know how Rowe did it with all the distractions, but somehow he was able to focus only on the pitcher and the task at hand. It happened again. However, this time the pitch-swing-dink was punctuated by a louder roar than I have ever heard at Rosenblatt (this was prior to the 2010 grand slam by TCU’s Matt Curry) as Rowe conducted a slow motion wave of his own around the infield bases into the waiting arms of his team.

The electricity continued to buzz as fans filed out of the stadium and into the night, each recounting in their own way Connor Rowe’s walk-off homer that earned Texas a 4-3 win and a spot in the three-game championship series with LSU a few nights later.

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