Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year

If it's the third week of June, and if you're in Omaha, Neb., then it must be the most wonderful time of the year.

College World Series time of the year.

Thus it has been in this fair city -- the magical melding of late spring, early summer, Midwestern hospitality and college baseball -- since 1950. When the CWS got to town all those decades ago, it was a little event at a nice little municipal stadium called Municipal Stadium.

A decade and a half into the tournament's standing engagement in Nebraska's largest city, Municipal Stadium became Rosenblatt Stadium, named for the popular former mayor and onetime ball player. It was still a nice little municipal stadium, though.

That was before cable TV and before ESPN.

When TV made college baseball a small-screen hit, the National Collegiate Athletic Association gave the city fathers a sign they couldn't wave off. The sport was growing; local organizers were steadily growing the CWS into something that wasn't such a little event anymore, and the nice little municipal stadium on the hill started to get a whole lot bigger and a whole lot nicer.

And that was good for a couple more decades. Until it wasn't enough.

So once again, Omaha's movers and shakers saw what they had to do (with the help of the NCAA), and then this growing, evolving river city on the Mighty Missouri got 'er done.

And thus this third downtown College World Series in the bigger and better TD Ameritrade Park.

Verily, a body could become used to this. Happily. I mean . . . just look.

And look.

And look some more.

And look at the crowd flowing like a river down city streets.

And through stadium concourses.

And into the watering hole and eatery across the street.

Play ball!

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