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MLB at Field of Dreams: a Historic Event in Dyersville, Iowa

MLB Field of Dreams game

The first ever Major League game in Iowa shows the eternal power of the movie Field of Dreams and how much the game hasn’t changed over time.

On Thursday, August 12, Major League Baseball hosted their first game at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.  Directly inspired by the classic movie where baseball players of the past get to play again, MLB built the field amidst rows of corn.  Just a shouting distance away from the field where the movie was filmed, the new field is where the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Yankees, 9-8.

We don’t normally write game reports here at Back Sports Page, but this is not just a regular season game.  Field of Dreams is where Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Black Sox redeem themselves.  Now, 101 after they were kicked out of Organized Baseball for life, the White Sox brought the literal fireworks.  With the wind blowing out, the two teams hit a combined eight home runs into the corn.

It was already a special night before the game even started. Kevin Costner, who stars as Ray Kinsella in the film, walked out of the corn to give a heartwarming speech.  While wondering from the outfield to the mound, he looked over to right field where the players appeared out of the corn stalks, just like in the movie.  “Is this heaven?”  Costner asked the crowd to a chorus of ‘no’s.  “Yes it is.”  Decades later, he still understands how meaningful Field of Dreams is.

The White Sox sure played like it was.  They hit four home runs and knocked out Yankee starter Andrew Heaney.  Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, and Seby Zavala each went deep, and the South Siders took a 7-4 lead into the ninth.

With Liam Hendriks, the best closer in baseball, coming in, the game looked like it was over.  But two-run shots from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton shockingly put the Bronx Bombers ahead.  It was Judge’s second of the game, both to the opposite field.  The first came off Lance Lynn, who also gave up a homer to Brett Gardner.

But there is one more twist left in this story, one that Hollywood couldn’t even imagine.  With Aroldis Chapman on the IL, Aaron Boone brought in Zack Britton for the save.  After a leadoff walk, Tim Anderson hit a no-doubter to right field for the walk-off win.  The closer gives up the lead only for his team to come back to win.  What an ending.

The state of Iowa deserved quite a show.  The Hawkeye State has a rich history of baseball, just not at the highest level.  There are currently five Major Leaguers who were born in Iowa, and home plate umpire Pat Hoberg got to call the game in his home state.  Iowa borders many states with MLB teams, so they suffer the most from restrictive blackout rules.  I am glad they got a game of their own.

The corn fields are not the only notable aspect of the park.  The field is shaped almost exactly like old Comiskey Park, where the White Sox played back in the day.  The unique feature is that the bullpens sit right behind center field, and the league designed the batter’s eye to look like a barn.  The scoreboard is also manual instead of electronic, and the workers were dressed like it is still 1920.

While the action and ceremony were appropriately layer with nostalgia and love, the league could use a little realism when it comes to Field of Dreams.  Rob Manfred wisely promised that there will be another game in Dyersville, as the lights were installed permanently.  And while the movie is really about father and son relationships, MLB can’t ignore the eight men out.  The movie clearly argues that Shoeless Joe is innocent, so as long as the league embraces the movie, they should embrace the wrongly disgraced player, too.

If you missed out on tickets to Thursday’s game, you are not the only one.  The capacity is 8,000, almost double the town’s population.  Unlike the reasonable $20 prices at the end of the movie, the average price for the game was a whopping $3000!  You might have to create your own Field of Dreams to see a game (or play MLB The Show).

On a night where the present meets the past, I will leave you with this statistic:  Anderson’s shot was the 15th time the White Sox hit a walk-off homer against the Yankees.  The first one came back in 1919, when it was hit by none other than Shoeless Joe.  You can’t make this up.

 

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