Rosenblatt Stadium might be gone, but you’ll find remnants of the old girl at TD Ameritrade Park. Radio broadcaster Howard Borden is one of them, and I say that in the most affectionate way possible.
He called the College World Series (CWS) at Rosenblatt Stadium on the Creative Sports Network from 1996 to 2004. He now does his own sports radio show on KCRO 660-AM in Omaha, covering mostly baseball and football. During the CWS he hosts a daily special program called "College Baseball’s First Pitch Special Edition" in which he will interview 50-55 current and former players, radio broadcasters, coaches and college baseball experts.
"I was very humbled and privileged to be in the broadcast booth for the games," Borden told me a few years ago about his time with Creative Sports Network. "It was very special for me as a broadcaster, as a fan and as an Omahan to see the brilliant, shining diamond from that perspective."
Borden is old school.
He begins every interview with a countdown, "And 3 … 2 … 1 …" He records his interviews on a rectangular-shaped tape recorder – yes, a tape recorder. He doesn’t use an external microphone. Instead, he holds the machine up to his mouth and speaks his question into it. Then he places it in front of his interviewee’s mouth.
When you sit down to talk to him, history rolls off his tongue.
"I enjoyed interviewing some of the legendary coaches who got the game going – guys like Skip Bertman, Jerry Kendall, Ron Fraser, Ron Polk and Bobo Brayton," Borden told me this week. "They pioneered the game and made it special. I also enjoyed interviewing the radio play-by-play crews from around the country."
He has a special memory about Rosenblatt Stadium as well – one about the extremely slow elevator that connected the main concourse with the press box, causing Omaha World Herald writer Steve Pivovar, and others, to refer to it as the "the slowed elevator in the western world."
"One time I interviewed somebody going up the elevator," Borden said. "The elevator was so slow that you could do an entire interview by the time you reached your destination."
Enter TD Ameritrade Park. As divisive as building the new ballpark was, Borden points out that events are more about people than venues. He commends College World Series, Inc., the NCAA and the community of Omaha for getting the CWS to Omaha and Rosenblatt initially and then for providing a new platform for the college game at TD Ameritrade Park.
"I just think the heartbeat of the event gets stronger and stronger and stronger," Borden said. "And it’s great because it’s the people around the event [who make it that way] – from the citizens here in Omaha to everyone who comes to the Series from around the country. It’s like a big family reunion."
For those who aren’t on board with the new ballpark and the festivities that go on around it, he says to be patient.
"Logistically, Rosenblatt had 13th Street and its charm within a community," Borden said. "Since TD Ameritrade Park is new, it will take time for the ancillary businesses around the ballpark [to get established]. But again, I think it’s the people – you have to come to the ballpark and see the family atmosphere and the smiles on people’s faces. It’s such a wonderful, family experience. It’s the best."
You can listen to Borden’s radio show during the CWS on KCRO 660-AM in Omaha at 6:00 p.m., M-F, and at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. You can also listen live on the KCRO website.