DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Chicago Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom was searching for the right words.
“Wow,” Wisdom exclaimed, her eyes moving to the inside of the dirt field where some fans were playing catch. “This is really amazing.”
Every Chicago Cubs player and staff member found a moment to appreciate the unique setting of Field of Dreams on Thursday.
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After the Cubs took a team photo in front of the manual scoreboard in right field, Willson Contreras stood on the edge of the dirt behind first base and held up his camera phone, scanning the field. Kervin Castro recorded fellow pitcher Anderson Espinoza making the movie classic roll out of the cornstalks onto the outfield lawn in “Field of Dreams.” A smiling Rowan Wick climbed onto a green tractor in front of the famous white farmhouse and soaked up the sight. Hitting coach Greg Brown, assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington and coach Juan Cabreja gathered for a photo on the farm porch swing.
Marcus Stroman, camera in hand, wandered between the ballpark, through the cornfields, and the film set. He took a photo with his cardboard cutout that was submerged inside the corn along the gravel path from the ballpark to the original field. His image was among others interspersed across the fields, including cutouts of Contreras, Wisdom, Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner, Seiya Suzuki, Christopher Morel, and the newly cast Frank Schwindel.
At one point during the Cubs’ pregame tour of the complex, Stroman snapped a photo of Franmil Reyes posing with a Field of Dreams sign in front of cornstalks.
“I just try to take as many photos as I can, just be there,” Stroman said. “I like to take photos, so I just try to capture moments. Some decent honesty with my boys. Obviously you have the aesthetic of the field, the whole atmosphere, trying to capture the vibe of where I am through my lens, which is different from anyone else.”
The dismal records of the Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds did not detract from what this stellar game meant for both teams. Sporting throwback cream uniforms, leading several players to hope they would be brought in in future seasons, the Cubs appreciated playing to a crowd of 7,823 fans.
“We’re so used to playing in these big stadiums and having a little bit more of a home feeling, whether it’s college or any of those times where you can play in front of a more intimate crowd. Happ said. “You get to a place like this, and it really takes you back to some of those trips you had through the cornfields to play baseball with your family, and that’s what this is all about.”
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It was a rare opportunity for baseball fans in Iowa to watch a local major league game in person or on television, especially for fans of the Iowa Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Des Moines. Major League Baseball’s blackout restrictions severely limit which teams fans in the state can watch television broadcasts.
“We have to continue to make sure we get baseball to every corner of this country that wants to see it to grow the game that way,” Happ said.
The game marked the Cubs’ third MLB main event, joining their 2019 appearance in the Little League Classic and a two-game series the next year in London. This is the second Field of Dreams game after the White Sox and New York Yankees played in the inaugural event last August, which resulted in a Red Sox victory.
Out of playoff contention for the second straight season, these types of games give the Cubs’ less-experienced players a taste of the attention and buzz surrounding big games. Morel, 23, didn’t make his debut until May 17, but has quickly become one of the North Side’s exciting young players with the opportunity to showcase his game on the national stage. After seeing the cutout of him in the cornfield, Morel said it’s because of the support of Cubs fans.
“When I got here, the last thing I expected was that my figure was going to be there, that I would be there, especially with the little time I have here with the team and in the Major Leagues.” Morell said. “But I’m thankful to God and I’m thankful to the team for giving me a chance.”
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Stroman would like to see future MLB exhibition events be based on the culture of the Negro Leagues.
“Create an atmosphere within an inner city community that can almost resemble the Negro Leagues,” Stroman said. “I think there are many ways to do it, to be honest, but that’s one angle I’d like to see them go. … Being an African American in the big leagues, there’s less and less of a population of us in the big leagues, so I think it’s important to spread the light and show that young people from the inner city get excited and give them a role . models to look up to where they don’t normally have that on a day-to-day basis.”