A Final Visit to Rosenblatt
One Family Makes A Memorable Stop
Many are saying their final goodbye to Rosenblatt Stadium. Video by kmtv.comvideo
Omaha, NE - - A family gathers near a gated service entrance just off the left field side of Rosenblatt Stadium. Seth Davidson, his wife and two boys were hoping they might be granted access to the ball park, but a ribbon of fence and a security worker are indications that might not be possible. Their Arizona liscense plate suggests how far they've driven. Seth explains that they are just passing through on their way to the Quad Cities in Iowa, and may not be able to time their return trip through Omaha to coincide with a scheduled 'Fan Farewell to Rosenblatt' slated for the first week of the College World Series. At that time, fans would be permited inside to say their goodbyes. The security worker remained unmoved.
The side trip to Rosenblatt was a purposeful one for the Davidson family. Seth knew the ole stadium was about to be torn down in a month . It was important for him to take some pictures, share some of the memories with his two young sons, while keeping a few of them for himself. But it was not to be.
The family loaded back into the car, but rather than turning onto 13th street and finding their way to the Interstate to resume their journey, they took a detour to the lower parking lot on the north side of the stadium. The trip could wait. If they couldn't be allowed into the ball park, they could at least say their good-byes with a father/son game of catch under the giant Rosenblatt sign. It would have to do.
Catch. It can appear to be a rather mundane activity. You catch a ball and you toss it back. And then you do it again...and so it goes, over and over. For fathers and sons, this ritual has been practiced for ages possessing an aura bordering on the sacred. A meditation of sorts. Words don't necessarily have to be exchanged, yet, in the act of the repetion, communication runs deep, forging mystical bonds that graduate into lingering memories. Boys grow into old age not always remembering specific events they might have shared with their dad. But they never forget that game of catch. For Davidson, this game of catch was attached to somethng deeper that he wanted his boys to understand.
Looking down on the scene from hilltop, just inside the left field fence, Calvin Sisson recognized what was happening. He had seen similar sentimental displays, though in different forms over the previous weeks. Sisson is a member of the Omaha Zoo Foundation which purchased Rosenblatt from the city and raised the money for demolition and the subsequent zoo expansion.
"We've had people trying to get into the stadium or just hanging around, " he said. "A father and son jumped the fence, not to do anything bad. They just wanted to sit in their old seats.....one final time."
Sisson took a utility cart down to the parking lot and interupted the game of catch to extend an invitation to the Davidsons to come into the stadium and look around. Sisson came to understand why, they delayed their trip to make an effort to visit a condemed old ballpark in a city 1,000 miles from their home.
Baseball and ballparks have meaning to fathers and sons, but especially so for Davidson, as Rosenblatt became his 'field of dreams' in 1998. That was the year he won a College World Series championship as a shortstop for the USC Trojans. The experience meant so much to him that he temporarily postponed a professional career in hopes of making it back to Omaha again, which he did in 2000 and 2001. He eventually did sign that professional contract and made it to the Triple A level before call it a career. It all occured before his son's were born.
"Its always been his dream, to have his kids at a stadium where his played," Jamie Davidson, Seth's wife said. " I can see the emotion for him, this is awesome. "
As the Davidson's made their way onto the field, seeing it for the first time in over a decade, it was apparent it's not the same Rosenblatt. Weeds have taken over the once finely manicured outfield grass and only a few rows of stadium seats remain.
"Kinda weird," Seth said as he scaned over the infield, " it's kinda sad."
He takes his boys by the hand and walks out to where he stood at his shortshop postion 14 years early. The three of them stand, side by side, in that semi-crouched ready postion that infielders do with the delivery of a pitch . He eagerly shares with them his perspectives from that time.
"See how the inflield slopes toward you, " he points out. " Thats different then the quick, flat infields we played on back home. After fielding a ball your actually throwing up hill a little bit. It was tough to get use to. To play at a high level and infielder always need to be in a comfort zone. Rosenblatt always make you feel nervous, a little uncomfortable when you first got here. It was something you had to deal with."
He then enters the freshly lined batters box and assumes his hitters stance, pondering the memories of world series confrontations. And then, a moment at the dugout, remembering his teammates.
"I called them before we left telling them that I was going to stop at the place where we won the Series and I'd bring them back some pictures."
When asked what it was like to be back here with his kids he said, " I'm speechless....Its like going back in time to say the early 1900's and getting the chance to play again on a field that no longer exists."
Soon it no longer will. Only the memories and feelings will remain for as long as people are able to hold on to them. Like that game of catch with dad.