CWS 2023: Remembering Johnny Rosenblatt

Johnny Rosenblatt exhibit
Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 4:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Lisa Kammerer and Elise O’Neil completed a ton of research to create the Douglas County Historical Society’s exhibit on the history of baseball in Omaha.

A big part of that history? None other than Johnny Rosenblatt.

“He played sandlot ball in different semi-pro leagues, but Roberts Dairy recruited him to be on their team,” Kammerer said. “He said, ‘Give me a sales job and I’ll do it,’ and that started his career as a salesman.”

Rosenblatt was able to continue his sandlot and semi-pro career and play with some of the greats of the day.

“In the 1927 barnstorming game that Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth came, he was on one of the teams, he played on one of those teams,” Kammerer said. “He was a very young man at that time.”

In the 1940s, Rosenblatt and other city leaders pushed to build a baseball stadium in Omaha to attract an AAA franchise. Municipal Stadium was eventually constructed, and Rosenblatt eventually became Mayor Rosenblatt. In 1950, Rosenblatt pushed the NCAA to bring the College World Series to Omaha.

“When it came, there were a lot of concerns because open air and all the weather we get in Omaha, that so many games were going to be rained out,” O’Neil said.

But Omaha weathered the storm, and so did the College World Series -- and in 1964, Municipal Stadium was named after Rosenblatt. Now the CWS is played in a downtown stadium. The Road to Omaha has withstood the test of time, and so have the memories of Johnny Rosenblatt and the stadium that bore his name.

“There was just something so homegrown and grassroots and familiar and comfortable with Rosenblatt, Dingerville, the RV park that would spring up every year,” Kammerer said. “It was a great little neighborhood that people from all over the country celebrated.”

The CWS made the move to what is now Charles Schwab Field in 2011.