The Nine: Highlighting Black stars in Omaha baseball history
As part of honoring Black History month and Minor League Baseball's initiative, "The Nine," a new, Black-community focused outreach platform specifically designed to honor and celebrate the historic impact numerous Black baseball pioneers made on the sport, provide new opportunities for youth baseball and softball participation, further diversify the business
As part of honoring Black History month and Minor League Baseball's initiative, "The Nine," a new, Black-community focused outreach platform specifically designed to honor and celebrate the historic impact numerous Black baseball pioneers made on the sport, provide new opportunities for youth baseball and softball participation, further diversify the business of baseball, and embrace millions of passionate fans throughout MiLB’s 120 communities nationwide, the Omaha Storm Chasers are highlighting five of the franchise's and city's top Black players.
Bob Gibson (Omaha Cardinals, 1957-1959)
Bob Gibson's baseball career has gone down as not only as one of the best by an Omaha native, but also one of the best in the history of the state of Nebraska. He's one of six members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame born in Nebraska, a group that includes Grover Cleveland Alexander, Richie Ashburn, Wade Boggs, Sam Crawford, and Billy Southworth.
A two-time Cy Young Award winner, 1968 NL MVP, nine-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glover, two-time World Series champion and World Series MVP, Gibson began his baseball career in Omaha at Creighton University, where he played both baseball and basketball for the Bluejays.
Gibson played professionally for Omaha from 1957-1959, when he suited up for the Omaha Cardinals of the American Association and played at Omaha Municipal Stadium (later known at Rosenblatt Stadium). He made 33 starts for the Omaha Cardinals over the course of three seasons, striking out 170 in 264.0 innings while breaking into the Major Leagues in 1959.
Now commemorated with a statue outside Werner Park, Gibson is best-remembered for authoring one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history in 1968, posting a 1.12 ERA (a post-integration record) in 34 starts, striking out 268 in 304.2 innings while posting a 22-9 record and throwing 13 shutouts.
Frank White (1973)
A member of the Royals' Hall of Fame, White is one of six people (and three players) to have their number retired at Werner Park. He spent most of the 1973 season playing for the Omaha Royals while also making his Major League debut with the Kansas City Royals that season and playing 51 Major League games. In 86 games with Omaha, White batted .264/.341/.365 with 19 doubles to help anchor a lineup that also featured future Hall of Famer George Brett.
White spent his entire Major League career with Kansas City, earning All-Star honors five times and Gold Glove honors eight times over the course of his 18 seasons. In 1985, White helped lead Kansas City to the franchise's first World Series title while becoming the first second baseman since Jackie Robinson to bat cleanup in a World Series game. His best World Series performance game in Game 3, when he doubled, homered, and drove in three to give the Royals their first win of the series.
Willie Wilson (1977)
A member of the Royals Hall of Fame, Wilson played his lone season with Omaha in 1977, the year after he made his Major League debut as a September call-up from Double-A. Wilson tied for first on the 1977 Omaha Royals in games played (132), ranked second in hits (145) behind Clint Hurdle, and set a franchise record for steals (74) that would be broken just two seasons later by Germán Barranca (75). Wilson's 74 steals in 1977 were the most in Triple-A and the fifth-most in Minor League Baseball (Ricky Henderson led Minor League Baseball with 95 steals for Class A Modesto).
He went on to play a total of 15 seasons with Kansas City, earning All-Star honors in 1982 and 1983 and helping the Royals win the 1985 World Series by going 11-for-30 (.367) in the Fall Classic. One of the fastest players in the league, Wilson racked up 668 stolen bases in his career (12th all time) and led the league in triples five times. While he won the batting title with a .332 average in 1982, his best season came in 1980, when he hit .326/.357/.421 while leading the league in runs (133), hits (230), and triples (15). He also rapped 28 doubles and stole 79 bases in 1980 en route to finishing fourth in an American League MVP race won by George Brett.
Dwayne Hosey (1994-1995)
One of five players in franchise history to earn league MVP honors, Hosey posted one of the best all-around seasons in franchise history in 1994, his first of two seasons in Omaha.
In 1994, Hosey was named American Association MVP after batting .333/424/.628 with 95 runs scored, 23 doubles, 27 home runs, 80 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases in 112 games and recording 13 outfield assists as the team's primary centerfielder. He finished second in the league in average (.333) and on-base percentage (.424) while leading the league in slugging (.628) by 48 points and tying for second in the circuit in homers (27). His 95 runs, eight triples, and 27 steals were all tops across Triple-A. Hosey returned to Omaha in 1995 and played 75 games, smacking 21 doubles and 12 homers while stealing 15 bases and hitting .295/.363/.535.
Hosey made his Major League debut with Boston in 1995, playing 52 total games for the Red Sox between 1995 and 1996 before enjoying a standout season with the Nippon Professional Baseball League's (Japan) Yakult Swallows in 1997, when he was named a member of the league's Best Nine team.
An Omaha resident since 2003, Hosey has owned and operated Hosey Baseball Training Center in Keystone since 2015.
Lorenzo Cain (2011-2012, 2014, 2016)
One of the most dynamic players in modern franchise history and in the Storm Chasers era (2011-pres.), Lorenzo Cain anchored Omaha's 2011 Pacific Coast League Championship team in his lone full season with Omaha.
Cain played 128 games for Omaha in 2011, batting .312/.380/.497 with 28 doubles, 16 home runs, and 16 stolen bases. He was the starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the first-ever Storm Chasers home game at Werner Park on April 16, 2011, sharing the field with current Major Leaguers Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Manny Piña, Danny Duffy, and Jesse Chavez. Cain hit third in the Chasers' lineup throughout the 2011 postseason, batting .438 (14-for-32) with three doubles, a triple, and two RBIs.
Currently in his second stint with the Milwaukee Brewers, Cain spent seven seasons with Kansas City, earning All-Star honors in 2015 en route to leading the Royals to a World Series title. He also helped the Royals win the American League pennant in 2014, earning ALCS MVP honors by batting .533 (8-for-15) with five runs scored and two doubles during the American League Championship Series against Baltimore.
The Omaha Storm Chasers are scheduled to begin the 2022 season on April 5 at Indianapolis before welcoming fans to Werner Park for the home opener on April 12 vs. Louisville. The full 2022 schedule can be found here and single-game tickets are now available here.
For more tickets and more information, please visit omahastormchasers.com, call the Werner Park Ticket office at (402) 738-5100, and follow the team on social media. You can follow the team on Twitter @omastormchasers, on Instagram @omahastormchasers, and “like” the team on Facebook at facebook.com/omahastormchasers.