Before the TCU baseball team returned to its hotel after Thursday’s afternoon practice at Millard West High School, coach Jim Schlossnagle had the bus driver take a brief detour south of downtown.
Schlossnagle wanted his players to see what remains of historic Rosenblatt Stadium, the home of the College World Series for 60 years until 2010. That, of course, is the year TCU earned its first berth and came one win shy of reaching the championship series. Former Horned Frogs Matt Curry provided one of the indelible memories that year when his grand slam completed a stunning comeback win against Florida State in an elimination game.
“Most of them grew up watching those games at Rosenblatt,” Schlossnagle said. “I wanted to show them the history of it and show them where it was relative to downtown and everything else. We were able to show them where Curry’s grand slam went out of the stadium and rolled down the hill.”
The stadium was imploded in 2012. All that remains are the foul poles and spot marking where home plate used to be. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium owns the land.
Curry’s homer left the stadium over the center field wall and rolled several hundred feet down a hill.
“They looked at me like I had three heads when I told them that the ball probably ended up 800 feet from home plate by the time it rolled,” he said. “It was awesome. It’s neat that they got to see that.”
Boomer White, who attended a few games as a Little Leaguer, said the detour brought back memories.
“You could still see some of the places; ‘Oh, I remember this stand over here is where I bought all my shirts. This is where they were selling all the Nike gear. You could spend all day here,” he said. “There’s just a vibe around here. Everybody has such a great time. That’s why they call it the greatest show on dirt. It really is.”
The CWS moved to the brand new TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha in 2011. TCU opens against Texas Tech at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Pitchers Preston Morrison and Brandon Finnegan were named to the Baseball America All-America team. Morrison was named to the second team while Finnegan earned third-team honors. Closer Riley Ferrell was named a third-team All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association.
Schlossnagle has been busy fielding media requests since TCU earned its CWS berth. He did five radio shows on Tuesday and was interviewed by Omaha television reporters when the team arrived at its downtown Omaha hotel Thursday afternoon. All eight teams will be inundated with media exposure during press conferences and their first workouts at TD Ameritrade Park on Friday.
“It doesn’t faze me too much,” he said. “Once we get to the games I’ll be finished with it except for the press conferences.”
“I’m a firm believer that the harder you work the luckier you get. You run across a Dylan Fitzgerald or a Preston Morrison or Keaton Jones. For all the times you spend, all the time recruiting a guy for two years and he signs a pro contract after you’ve created this long relationship with them, you end up getting a guy who is a great college player and you spent significantly less time on.” — TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on recruiting perils