DYERSVILLE, Iowa – As the bus transported the New York Yankees through the cornfields that covered this serene, rolling farmland of northeastern Iowa, Aaron Judge noticed a difference from the usual arrival in the next city.
The trip to the Field of Dreams venue to play the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night attracted everyone’s attention, like a bunch of kids who couldn’t believe what they were doing.
“It was the first time that people had removed their headphones, and they were just glued to the windows, looking at the stage,” said Judge, the three-time All-Star right fielder.
“We have a lot of guys from different countries who haven’t really seen the country like this, or guys from the big cities who haven’t really seen open fields and things like that, so it was great to drive and see everyone in town standing on the side of the roads. with signs and cheering us on, ”he said.
The event made for television, delayed for a year Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was billed as the first major league game in this state generally focused on college and community sports, highlighted by presidential campaigns and driven by the pork and grain industry.
This will not be a one-time visit either. Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that the Field of Dreams game will return in August 2022, with teams to be determined.
The built-from-scratch stadium, built to house some 8,000 fans who watch the White Sox and Yankees play in one of the most anticipated mid-August games ever, was placed next to the royal diamond where the movie was filmed. 1989 starring Kevin Costner. on the outskirts of the city of Dyersville, 4,000 inhabitants.
Costner came back for this, stealing the scene with a slow, heavy stroll through the outfield his character Ray Kinsella often saw in the movie before stopping to watch the White Sox and real Yankees emerge from the corn for pregame presentations. .
Grabbing a ball in his hand, as the film’s original symphonic score played through the speakers, Costner stepped up to a microphone and told the crowd, “It’s perfect.”
Judge had his moment later, throwing a three-run smash in the third: it wasn’t a can of corn, sailing to the right.
In fact, there were rows and rows of corn between the two fields. Yes, it is the same place where Shoeless Joe Jackson and his friends appeared, and disappeared, throughout the Academy Award-nominated film about parents, children, culture, self-discovery, ghosts and, oh yes, baseball.
“As a kid you dream of the opportunity to play Major League Baseball and you see certain movies or heroes in comics and fairy tales, and you have the opportunity to actually be at the Field of Dreams and play a game here and have family and friends here. And to have the opportunity to represent the Yankees here, I never in my life thought I would experience this, ”Judge said.
Major League Baseball players can be particular about the details when they’re on a road trip, wanting to maximize comfort and minimize intrusion for optimal performance on the field, but no one cared about any of the logistical hurdles of playing this game at four hours from Chicago. and about a half hour drive from Dubuque airport, where both teams flew in.
White Sox closer Liam Hendriks was all smiles as he recounted his exploration of the white farm where the Kinsella family live in the film that has been well preserved as a tourist attraction.
Both teams have been filled with moments of movie recreation during pregame photos on the original field, before retiring to the field and returning to the regulation stadium to prepare for the game. Players were kindly warned not to scratch their faces with the stalks and not to attempt to enter the maze, one of the fan attractions added to the site for the event, to avoid getting lost.
“Anyone who follows me on Instagram is going to be very sick of corn,” said Hendriks, whose phone had been filled after all the photos and videos he took.
Judge was born three years after the release of “Field of Dreams,” but his father introduced him to the film as a child and he quickly became a huge fan. He noted that some of his younger teammates had yet to see the movie.
“I think one of these nights we’ll sit down and I’ll have a DVD for them, ready,” Judge said with a wide smile.
The movie, naturally, remains a great source of local pride, and Iowans were given priority to buy when the limited number of public tickets went on sale. The “Field of Dreams” ghost players, many of whom were extras in the film, gathered on the film’s field in the afternoon in their 1919-style uniforms in honor of Jackson’s “Black Sox” team, who plays a key role in the plot.
“It has given us a real identity. When you think of Dyersville, it’s ‘Field of Dreams,’ and all the hype we’ve gotten lately has been tremendous for the city and the area, “said Jude Milbert, one of the Ghost Players who developed a Globetrotters-style company after his participation in the film by hosting youth clinics, doing comedy routines, and traveling the world as ambassadors for the game, all are former college or semi-professional players living in Northeast Iowa.
The Ghost Players and everyone else can prepare for more next year.
“You never mess with a winning streak, but it seems like every team is going to want to touch this. There is going to be a lot of competition to play this, ”Costner said before the game.
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