Originally posted on Momaha.com
Tears stained the lenses of my 8-year-old’s red-rimmed glasses.
“I don’t want him to go away!” she sobbed.
She buried her face into my chest. “I know,” I said.
Love is a strange thing. We often don’t understand exactly how it happens. But we know when it does, especially when we realize we have to let go.
For my daughter, this particular love is for a 62-year-old named Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.
It was while we were enjoying the final Saturday fireworks show at Rosenblatt — after the Omaha Royals (Kansas City’s AAA Affiliate) had defeated the Iowa Cubs — when Anna suddenly realized this would be the last time she would be at Rosenblatt.
“I don’t want them to tear it down!” she demanded.
I was a little taken aback by her flood of tears. She has seen the stadium countless times on our way to the Henry Doorly Zoo, but this was only the third time she had ever been INSIDE the stadium. I hadn’t realized until that moment of tearfulness how much of a hold this stadium had on her heart.
Clearly, those three times produced some powerful memories.
She met the parents of the University of South Carolina’s closer Matt “Iceman” Price at her first ever College World Series game earlier this summer.
Her second trip to Rosenblatt was the final CWS game at the stadium when “Iceman” (now her favorite baseball player) pitched the final three innings to help South Carolina win the National Championship.
Then this past Saturday, my wife and I brought all the kids one final time to Rosenblatt for their first ever professional baseball game and after-game fireworks show.
Realizing this third time would be her last brought on the waterworks.
I explained that the infield of Rosenblatt will become part of the zoo in a couple years and she’ll even be able to run around the bases. I also told her about the new TD Ameritrade ballpark downtown that will host the College World Series and the Royals’ new stadium that we will go to next year in Papillion.
It didn’t matter. She loved Rosenblatt. She didn’t even quite know why. She just did.
A lot of us here in Omaha have fallen in love with Rosenblatt Stadium, too. Sure, it doesn’t have playgrounds, miniature golf courses, signature sandwiches, cup holders in every seat or an open concourse like other more modern stadiums. But something about it, and the games played there, has drawn each of us in, begging us to love it.
Thursday was the final time baseball will ever be played in the “Stadium on the Hill.” To some, it probably seems silly to cry over something like an old stadium. But when it captures the heart of an 8-year-old girl after just three visits, no one can deny the magic it holds.
And the loss we will all feel when it is gone forever.