» All through the contentious debate about whether to build a new downtown ballpark for the College World Series and tear down beloved Rosenblatt Stadium, one family remained gracious and above the fray — the Rosenblatts.
Steve Rosenblatt, son of Johnny, the stadium's namesake, and Steve's son, Rich, an Omaha attorney, said they wanted whatever was best for Omaha.
Even as the razing of the old stadium was mourned, the opening of new one in 2011 was praised. Omaha moved on.
But it was touching and appropriate Friday when Steve — a 10-year-old batboy the night the stadium opened in 1948 — got behind home plate on the site of the old stadium and caught the ceremonial first pitch from his 9-year-old grandson, Josh Rosenblatt.
That officially opened Johnny Rosenblatt's Infield at the Zoo, a charming and colorful memorial at the former site of Rosenblatt Stadium.
The adjacent Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium purchased the site and spent $600,000 on the memorial. It includes Little League basepaths as well as red, yellow and blue stadium seats and the old foul poles.
At the dedication Friday, City Councilman Garry Gernandt turned a phrase in praising zoo director Dennis Pate: “I thank you for not concreting (over) the memories of Rosenblatt, but for cementing those memories in our hearts.”
Among those attending were two who grew up in Omaha and played in the CWS: Lad Nemecek, an Omaha South High graduate and a member of the Arizona State team in the 1964 CWS, and Steve Priborsky of Benson High, who played on the 1963 University of Arizona team and lives in Bend, Ore.
Their names are among those of 55 men from Nebraska and the Omaha metro area who played in the CWS at Rosenblatt and are listed on a plaque behind home plate at the new memorial.
Gov. Dave Heineman, Mayor Jim Suttle and others took part in the dedication. John Boyer, president of the Omaha Zoo Foundation, said the zoo already has received requests to use the memorial for weddings and for team photos.
» Personal: At the dedication, I proudly wore a blue T-shirt with the words “Rosenblatt Stadium, est. 1948.”
That's partly because I, too, was “established” in 1948 — born 10 days after the ballpark's Oct. 17 opening.
I know. Ballparks and people don't last forever. Somewhere there is an expiration date.
» Laura Bush, wife of former President George W. Bush, was announced Friday as the featured speaker for an event this fall at the CenturyLink Center downtown.
She will appear in Omaha Oct. 22 at the Phoenix Academy Scholarship Luncheon.
“Phoenix Academy is a school for students who need explicit, multisensory, direct instruction in reading and math,” said Nancy Liebermann, the academy's executive director. The school provides a phonics-based education for students, most of whom are one or more school years behind in reading or math, or both.
Liebermann said the former first lady is “the perfect choice” as speaker. She is not only an advocate for reading but also was an elementary teacher, a librarian and honorary ambassador for the U.N. Literacy Decade.
Her last trip to Omaha was in 2006, when she visited Boys Town. For more information on the October event, email email@example.com.
» Marathon runner Alice Smith of Omaha says she wants cancer to become “like polio, which no one hears about anymore.”
She herself hasn't had cancer, but knows many who have — including her mother, who died when Alice was 8.
|Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.|
Various other relatives and friends have suffered from cancer. And while people often think that smoking and alcohol abuse are the main causes, she said poor diet and lack of exercise are now equivalent contributors to cancer.
Alice, 56, will take part in a cross-country “chain of marathons” that starts June 21 in Seattle. It will reach Omaha in early July and end in Annapolis, Md., with the 160th runner.
Said Alice: “We will cross the United States, rain or shine, night or day, without stopping — in the hopes or raising awareness and a million dollars toward cancer research and support.”
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, the Scheels store at Village Pointe in Omaha will sponsor a “treadmill marathon” competition in support of the coast-to-coast Million Dollar Marathon. Three four-person teams will compete, each runner traveling the equivalent of 6.5 miles on a treadmill.
» Instead of a typical high school graduation party, Zachary Bram of Omaha turned his into a gift to others — he played violin and fiddle at the Remington Heights Retirement Community.
Zach, a 2013 graduate of North High who will study engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is the son of Devra and Ross Bram.
The day of his music-playing party was also Zach's 18th birthday. He knows many of the Remington Heights residents because he has worked there as a food server.
“After the event,” an attendee said, “he treated the packed house to cake and beverages. It was very moving.”
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