It is rare that one stadium is home to almost all of a sport's most memorable moments.
College baseball, for most fans, grew up and matured in one place — Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium. While college baseball is a regional sport — little national TV coverage or attention most of the season — that changes when eight teams reach Omaha for the College World Series.
For most people, if it happened in college baseball, it happened at Rosenblatt. The Omaha World-Herald book "Rosenblatt Stadium: Omaha's Diamond on the Hill" captures that history with archived pictures and updated stories that document the stadium's history from 1948-2010. Rosenblatt is no longer the home of the CWS — that event moves to a new stadium in downtown Omaha this spring.
Sportswriter Steve Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald will sign copies of the book from 3-5 p.m. Wednesday at Watermark Books and Cafe, 4701 E. Douglas.
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The book leans heavily on pictures, which is a good choice. There is no better way to tell the story of college baseball evolution and how Rosenblatt kept up than through the camera lens. Readers can watch the game change from wood bats and flannel uniforms to aluminum and Nike gear.
In the background, Rosenblatt changes right along. In the 1950s and 1960s, it's common to see many empty seats. The modern CWS era, according to Pivovar, begins in the early 1980s, when ESPN began televising games. The event grew quickly and Rosenblatt expanded to a capacity of almost 24,000. From 1950-72, a total of 1 million fans attended the CWS. By 1983, total attendance reached 2 million and it topped 3 million in 1991.
"We were good for each other," ESPN producer Ed Placey said. "There's a feeling here we really came of age together."
Many of the images will be familiar to fans.
LSU's Warren Morris celebrates his home run in 1996 while Miami's Pat Burrell collapses on the infield. Creighton fans camp out for tickets in 1991. Players carry Miami coach Ron Fraser off the field after the 1982 championship.
The winners celebrate with by jumping into a teammate's arms, or with a pileup on the mound. The losers sit with heads bowed in the dugout. For WSU fans, a picture of pitcher Shane Durham sums up the disappointment of 1988. A picture of Greg Brummett and Eric Wedge show the joy of 1989.
The familiar stories — and some buried in time — are told, as well.
In 1954 — or so the story goes — a Missouri coach had a player slide into third base to help a photographer get his action photo. Southern Illinois coach Joe Lutz brought bat girls in 1968 and his team wore shorts instead of uniform pants in 1969.
"We'll be accused of a lot of things," Lutz told the Omaha World-Herald. "There'll be a lot of people who don't want to see change. But we're living in a changing world."
In 1977, the Diablos of Cal State Los Angeles warmed up with a phantom infield drill — no baseball needed. Of course, there's a refresher on Miami's hidden ball trick that victimized WSU's Phil Stephenson in 1982.