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Top 10 Omaha Storm Chasers Facts You Didn’t Know
The Omaha Storm Chasers are one of Triple-A Baseball’s exciting teams every sports fan needs to learn about. In fact, the Nebraska-based franchise is a top-level farm club for the Kansas City Royals. Any Omaha fan that bleeds Storm Chasers blue will know every information possible, from the team winning back-to-back National Championships (2013 and 2014) to Stormy and Vortex being the official mascots. However, there are new Omaha Storm Chasers facts that many baseball supporters never knew or never heard of in their lives. For details on what facts baseball fans rarely knew about, please refer to Top 10 Omaha Storm Chasers Facts You Didn’t Know below!
10: Warren Buffet was a Minority Owner for the Storm Chasers
Becoming an owner of a major sports franchise is perhaps the greatest accomplishment any business person wants to achieve. In most scenarios, the owner for a team would make the final calls on stadium renovation plans as well as deciding who would be the next head coach. Also, a business person who acquires a franchise has the ability to decide on whether a team stays in the area or relocates to another state. But believe it or not, the Omaha Storm Chasers were previously owned by legendary businessman Warren Buffett. As a matter of fact, he was actually born and raised in Omaha (so that helped the local connection make sense).
Buffet had minority stakes in the Storm Chasers from 1991 until 2012 and managed to keep the team in Omaha. During that tenure, the Triple-A club made the playoffs four times and reached the 2011 National Championship Game. In addition, the Storm Chasers received a new stadium (Werner Park) in 2011 when the franchise relocated from Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. In 2012, Buffett and other members of the ownership sold the Omaha team to a group led by national businessman Gary Green. But today, Warren Buffet’s presence is felt today at Werner Park courtesy of a conference area named after him called the Buffett Boardroom.
9: Werner Park is One of Two Triple-A Stadiums to Have a Miniature Golf Course
There are some Triple-A ballparks in the country that have one feature fans can’t find anywhere else. Harbor Park in Norfolk has the glimpse of Elizabeth River, while Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City has the view of the mountains. Durham Bulls Athletic Park in North Carolina has the huge bull sign at left field, while Sahlen Field in Buffalo has a full-service restaurant on the first base side. But did you know that Werner Park is one of the couple stadiums to have a miniature golf course? The one-of-a-kind mini putt-putt golf area is located in the outfield concourse at right field.
Officially referred to as Gary’s Greens Mini Golf, the four-to-five-hole golfing experience is open during every Storm Chasers home game. The children’s golf area was named in honor of current Storm Chasers owner Gary Green. Anyway, the mini golf course doesn’t have any themed holes like some of the other mini putt-putt parks in the country have. That being said, however, Gary’s Greens Mini Golf is a fun and challenging activity for families and baseball fans to enjoy during a baseball contest. Werner Park is one of the couple ballparks with mini golf courses, along with Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City) and First Horizon Park (Nashville).
8: Omaha is the 3rd Team Since 2006 to Win Back-to-Back National Titles
The Omaha Storm Chasers are one of the nation’s most successful teams in the Minor Leagues. They have played in the National Championship Game three times since its debut in 2006. In addition, Omaha has competed for the Pacific Coast League title four times since the 21st century began. But in rare situations, winning a major championship in consecutive years can be a challenging and rewarding achievement. Believe it or not, the Storm Chasers are the 3rd team since 2006 to win back-to-back national titles. In 2011, Omaha made its first ever appearance in the Triple-A National Championship Game (lost to Columbus Clippers 8-3).
Unlike the World Series in the big leagues, the championship event was just a single game and not a series. Anyway, the Storm Chasers defeated the Durham Bulls in the 2013 edition 2-1. One year later, Omaha repeated as champions when they managed to beat the Pawtucket Red Sox (now the Worcester Red Sox) 4-2. By the way, Omaha was able to win multiple league titles after the team moved into its current stadium at Werner Park. The Storm Chasers are one of the three teams to win back-to-back national championships since 2006, along with the Clippers and Sacramento River Cats.
7: Werner Park was the Site for the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game
Over the past decade or so, Werner Park has witnessed some pretty exciting baseball events. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers built a dynasty by winning consecutive championships in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the Midwest facility was one of the Triple-A stadiums that opened during the 2010s. The Storm Chasers are one of the two professional baseball teams from Nebraska along with the Lincoln Saltdogs (Independent). But for Werner Park, it was the official site for the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game.
For the first and only time in its history, the current Omaha ballpark got to host the Minor League’s Midsummer Classic. The event’s main logo incorporated the Storm Chasers’ famous tornado icon. Some of the most high-profile players who took part in the All–Star Game were INF Corey Seager (Oklahoma), SS Ketel Marte (Tacoma), and 1B Jesus Aguilar (Columbus). Team International went on to beat Pacific Coast by the final score of 4-3. At the end of the contest, OF Peter O’Brien (Reno) and INF Kyle Roller (Scranton/WB) were named the co-MVP winners.
6: Storm Chasers had Five League MVP Winners in Franchise History
Winning a major award is considered a great deal in professional baseball, especially for those who are trying to get to the Major Leagues. If a person wins Pitcher of the Year or Rookie of the Year, then this achievement could bolster his chances of getting called up to the big leagues. In addition, that person might face the odds of receiving an invite to Spring Training from his team’s parent club. Luckily, for the Storm Chasers, they have made Omaha proud by winning five MVP awards in franchise history. As a matter of fact, the team has won player awards along with multiple league titles during its existence.
In 1970, INF/OF George Spriggs claimed League MVP honors by batting 0.301 with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in. Eleven years later, INF Manny Castillo won the MVP Award with a 0.335 batting average with 10 long balls and 91 RBIs. In 1988, utility player Luis de los Santos received MVP recognition by batting 0.307 with 6 home runs and 87 runs batted in. Six years later, OF Dwayne Hosey won his MVP trophy with a 0.333 batting average with 27 long balls and 80 RBIs. In 1998, INF/OF Chris Hatcher won Omaha’s most recent MVP honor by batting 0.309 with 46 home runs and 106 runs batted in.
5: Werner Park Has Hosted Only One No-Hitter Since its Opening in 2011
Accomplishing a no-hitter is one of baseball’s rarest gems baseball fans can witness in their lives. This accomplishment takes place when a starting pitcher goes through nine innings without giving up any base hits. In more rare situations, no-hitters can occur in a combined effort if a starting pitcher is unable to continue due to injury. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for a pitcher is tossing a perfect game, where a pitcher throws nine innings without any hits or baserunners. But for Werner Field, the Omaha stadium has hosted only one no-hitter since its opening in 2011.
In June 2017, the Nashville Sounds tossed a combined no-no led by Chris Smith against the Storm Chasers at Werner Field. As for Omaha, the franchise has never thrown a no-hitter in its entire history. In fact, the Storm Chasers are one of the couple Triple-A teams to never toss a no-no (Memphis RedBirds). Despite the head-scratching fact, Omaha went on the wrong side of a no-hitter three times in club history. Brian Powell (New Orleans) threw a no-no against the then-Golden Spikes in 2001, while Dustin Nippert (Oklahoma City) tossed one vs. the formerly-named Omaha Royals in 2008.
4: The Storm Chasers Got the Name in Honor of Tornado Adventurers
Coming up with a name is a crucial part of building a team because it would become the official representation for the media and fans alike. There are a couple ways where such a club name can be developed. One option is to have a name-a-team contest where fans could submit their suggestions either online or in person. Another option is via franchise ownership, where members could create team names based on local surroundings. Luckily, for Omaha, the Storm Chasers got their name in honor of tornado adventurers.
During the 2010-2011 offseason, the Triple-A club held a contest to decide on the new team name. During the first 40-plus years of existence, Omaha was referred to as the Royals (1969-1998, 2002-2010) and Golden Spikes (1999-2001). Anyway, the winner of the naming contest received a personalized jersey as well as season tickets. Eventually, the Storm Chasers were declared the official team name for the Omaha franchise. The new branding was inspired by the dozens and dozens of weather enthusiasts that track down tornadoes in Nebraska. Another thing to keep in mind is that Nebraska is one of the several Midwest states that reside in Tornado Alley.
3: The Current Stadium was Built So Team Could Avoid Conflict with College World Series
Werner Park in Omaha is one of baseball’s most publicly acclaimed baseball stadiums in the Midwest. The Storm Chasers venue has a 360 concourse where fans can walk around the stadium without missing any game action. In fact, Werner Park has a mini putt-putt golf course where children and adults can play before or during the contest. But perhaps the main reason the Storm Chasers built the current facility was because the team could avoid any more conflicts with the College World Series. To clarify, the Triple-A club previously had to share the same ballpark as the one where the College Baseball playoffs used to take place.
In its first 41 years of operation, the Omaha farm team played its home games at the now-defunct Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. During that timeline, the Royals/Golden Spikes embarked on a multi-week road trip in May or June in order for the ballpark to accommodate the College World Series. But when the Storm Chasers relocated to Werner Park in time for the 2011 season, the franchise no longer had the need to go long on extended road trips. Eventually, the College World Series moved its games to TD Ameritrade Park (now Charles Schwab Field). Meanwhile, Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium was torn down and incorporated as the Infield at the Zoo tribute site located in the parking lots of Henry Doorly Zoo.
2: The Storm Chasers have One of the Longest-Running MLB/MiLB Partnerships
Having a Minor League partner is considered a must-do for big league teams that want to train and upgrade their prospects. Also, the Minor League system has four levels of training: Class-A, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. In some situations, Major League clubs would collaborate with a Triple-A franchise for about ten years or nearly half a century. But interestingly, the Omaha Storm Chasers have perhaps the longest active MLB farm club partnerships in Triple-A Baseball. Since their inception in 1969, the Omaha franchise has served as the high-level affiliate for the Kansas City Royals.
Since that partnership began, the Royals have won two World Series championships in 1985 and 2015. In addition, Kansas City has played in the World Series in 1980 and 2014 before losing to the Phillies and Giants (respectively). Other than the Storm Chasers/Royals pact, there are different partnerships that have lasted for over 15 years. One example is that the Durham Bulls have been a Triple-A farm club for the Tampa Bay Rays since 1998. Another example is that the Salt Lake Bees have been partnering with the Los Angeles Angels since 2006.
1: There’s a Bob Gibson Statue Located Outside the Storm Chasers Ballpark
Most likely, every sports facility within the nation has a statue either inside or outside the premises. For example, Truist Park in Atlanta has a life-sized sculpture of former manager Bobby Cox. Another example is that Busch Stadium in St. Louis has a statue of Cardinals legend Stan Musial. One more example to include is that Petco Park in San Diego has a life sized figurine of Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. But did you know that there’s a statue outside Werner Park that is dedicated to one of baseball’s greatest pitchers of all time?
The late right-handed pitcher Bob Gibson has his own statue located outside the Storm Chasers stadium on the 3rd base side. Gibson was best known for his tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals and led them to two World Series titles (1964 and 1967). The ace also won two Cy Young Awards as well as the 1968 MVP trophy. But before Gibson began his storied career with the Cardinals, he spent three seasons with the then-Double-A franchise: the Omaha Cardinals. During the late 1950s, the pitcher compiled a 14-14 record with a 3.56 earned run average and 170 strikeouts during his Omaha tenure.