Commentary

Omaha artist says fans make CWS

Updated: June 16, 2010, 12:05 PM ET
By Paula Lavigne | ESPN

John LajbaPaula Lavigne/ESPNJohn Lajba, an Omaha artist, created "The Road to Omaha" sculpture located outside Rosenblatt.

Omaha artist John Lajba created "The Road to Omaha," a sculpture that has greeted College World Series fans to Rosenblatt Stadium since 1999 and has become a symbol of the teamwork and dedication needed to reach the NCAA championship.

ESPN.com visited with Lajba about his artwork, the city and the meaning the event holds for him.

Through doing this sculpture, what did you learn about how important this stadium was to the College World Series?

What really struck me was the day it was delivered here. There were many fans out here. … They saw the sculpture drive up, and they all applauded. They thought it was such a wonderful experience that, here it is the 50th anniversary -- at the time -- and they were able to share in that celebration. What really also struck me was when the players came into Rosenblatt, they would drive right up and park the buses right up by the sculpture. And when they would get out … they would look at that sculpture like it was them, like, "That's what I'm about."

How do you explain the significance of the stadium and this "sense of place" to someone who has never been here?

During that time in Omaha, our city just comes alive. There's so much joy that is happening in the city, outside the stadium, by my sculpture. Baseball is a way that families come together and really enjoy their lives and their experiences. It's really such an electric time.

What sort of emotions and thoughts are going through your head that this is the last season this sculpture is going to be in front of this historic stadium?

You shouldn't be afraid of the future. It will be very interesting to see how the fans react to the new environment and the new placement of the sculpture. We'll have to see. The fans are what makes it beautiful. The reason this stadium is beautiful is because of the fans and the players. … There's a lot of emotions that I have. I'm sure a lot of emotions that everybody who is going to come to this final season has. I think it's time to celebrate, really celebrate the idea of Rosenblatt Stadium, and take that idea, how we feel, our love for the city and the CWS. We'll always have memories of Rosenblatt. There will be some sad experiences, but I have to remember all of the beautiful times and I'm looking forward to those beautiful times happening in the new stadium.