Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Blog: Father's Day at the College World Series

Amwilli planned an unforgettable Father's Day celebration for Papa Willi this year— here's their story:


My Omaha Father’s Day weekend trip was amazing; however the flight out was a nightmare. Lesson learned on this trip: don’t book a flight through Chicago in the summer time. I couldn’t get an affordable direct flight on United to from DC to Omaha so I had to catch a connecting flight through Chicago O’hare. Unfortunately there was no connection—I got off the plane and found out my flight and most United flights in and out of Chicago O’hare were canceled due to thunderstorms. The airport was a mad house...

... and United offered me nothing better than a “stand-by” option early Saturday morning. United also had banners all over the airport bragging about how they were “#1 in on time arrivals in 2009.” Makes me wonder what happens when you fly with #2. Suffice to say, I didn’t take the standby flight; instead I rebooked with Southwest out of Midway (Chicago’s other airport), rented a car (cheaper than a taxi ride) and drove across town early Saturday to catch my 9 a.m. flight. Despite not being #1 in on time arrivals in 2009, Southwest got me to Omaha a few minutes early, and my Dad, who flew in the night before (also on Southwest hmmm…), picked me up and we were off to the ballpark.

For the uninitiated, the College World Series (CWS) has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha every year since 1950. This is the last year it will be at Rosenblatt because next year the CWS moves to a brand new ballpark in downtown Omaha. That means an end to one of the oldest traditions in the local economy: turning your yard into a parking lot. The stadium is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, and the locals clean up during the two weeks the CWS is in town. Some cram 10-12 cars into their yard and charge anywhere from $10 to $20 per car (and sometimes per car, per game). Thus, with little overhead—other than some wear and tear on the lawn—these lucky residents pull in a few thousand dollars in cash, under the table every year—though this is likely their last year in business.

A trip to Zesto (not Zesto’s, they get mad) is another CWS tradition likely ending this year. The locale was perfect for 60 years or so—right across the street from the main entrance at Rosenblatt. Zesto soft serve ice cream is a CWS staple, and they claim to have the “best burgers in town.” The soft serve was amazing, but the burger was average (especially by efwilli standards).

After Zesto, no CWS trip would be complete without visiting all the various vendors lining the street in tents outside the stadium. On the walk, one must also head into Stadium View Sports Card, where the owner (no joke) gives you a free beer just for stopping in. After perusing the tent-city shops it’s on to Fanfest...

It's an array of vendors in the Rosenblatt plaza selling food, bats, gloves, drinks (no alcohol), and even LG refrigerators and 3D TVs at the “LG experience.” Fanfest runs the entire first weekend of the series when most families with children in tow are at the CWS. We spent some time at Fanfest both days I was at the CWS. Of course, we were there for the games and managed to see all four that weekend (despite a few rain delays).

There isn’t a bad seat in the house at Rosenblatt. For the first game, we sat down the first baseline and still had a great view.

Then in game two, we were general admission which means bleacher seats in the outfield. This brings me to another CWS tradition—getting in at General Admission. They sell an unlimited number of General Admission Tickets ($10 each) and let you in first come first serve. Some people even line up as early as midnight the day of a game! Since we had to exit the stadium after Game 1 and get in line, we were obviously not there that early. Here’s the line after we’d been in it for a few hours:

It winds back and forth up the grass hill behind the stadium. By the time we got in, it was standing room only, but it was a great standing room.

Plus, sitting in General Admission you get to be a part of one of the best CWS traditions: keeping the beach ball away from the security guards.

Sunday, we had reserve seats under the overhang behind home plate for Game 3. Being under the overhang was great because we had to wait out a 3-hour rain delay before the game, and a 2-hour delay during the game. We stayed nice and dry while they rolled out the tarp and watched the unlucky fans sitting out in the open scatter for cover.

Game 4 was pushed to Monday morning. Luckily, because my Dad’s flight was delayed by four hours, we were able to go to the Monday morning game (he was on United).

Sadly, it was eventually time to head home, but at least I can say I got to partake in pretty much every CWS tradition. Next year the stadium comes down and a zoo goes up. After so many years of watching the games on TV, my Dad and I had an amazing time taking in a few games and witnessing some history in the final season at “the Blatt.”


  1. I think we can all agree...United blows!!

  2. Nice Blog!thanks for sharing your plan with us.happy father day.
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