The top moments from an enchanting Field of Dreams Game

August 12th, 2022

DYERSVILLE, Iowa -- Though it is only a little over a year old, the Field of Dreams ballpark -- built by Major League Baseball ahead of the inaugural game in 2021 -- oozes with nostalgia. Any Major League team would fit in well here, but the Cubs and Reds, two of baseball’s oldest franchises, looked especially comfortable in the old-timey surroundings.

In the second game at the site, the Cubs beat the Reds, 4-2. The day provided everything fans and players were expecting: beautiful scenery, elaborate pregame festivities loaded with star power and lots of reminders about the 1989 blockbuster hit that made this tiny patch of land in the middle of Iowa famous for generations to come.

Votto and Happ, mic’d up 
Both Reds first baseman Joey Votto and Cubs outfielder Ian Happ each spent a half-inning wearing an earpiece and microphone for a talkback with television announcers Joe Davis and John Smoltz. 

Votto’s inning lasted long enough for him to get particularly chatty with the booth. 

“I’m out here at first base in the middle of a Major League game, and I’ve got nothing to do right now,” Votto said. “So I’m going to tell a little story.”

Votto jumped into the way-back machine and recalled a game in 2009 -- his third year in the big leagues, and Smoltz’s last. Smoltz was pitching for St. Louis. 

“And so I’m a young player, and I’m angry, and competitive,” Votto said. “And John’s pitching. And he did not like the way we rubbed up the ball. He was screaming at me, and the umpire, and our bench. 

“I'm in the frame of mind, like, you got an option -- you can either be intimidated by this superstar, all-time great, Hall of Fame kind of guy, or you can match it. 

“And so I think I walked.” 

Smoltz, from the booth, laughed and confirmed the story in its entirety. 

“I was worried about hitting somebody because I couldn't feel the baseball,” Smoltz said.

“Hey, Dad…”
When fans of the movie talk about why they love it so much, the final scene comes up more than any other -- when Ray Kinsella sees his father, John, and says, “Hey Dad, you want to have a catch?”

What better way to recreate that scene than to call on one of the most famous father-son Major League duos in history?

Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr., who in 1990 became the first father-son combo to play in a big league game, and have 782 home runs between them, walked out of the cornfield, gloves in hand, and turned to face each other.

“Hey Dad,” Jr. said to Sr., “You want to have a catch?”

“I’d like that,” Sr. said, same as in the movie.

Costner’s tribute to Liotta 
In the middle of the first inning, fans were treated to a scoreboard tribute from one star of Field of Dreams to another. Kevin Costner narrated a moving tribute to Ray Liotta, who passed away on May 26 at the age of 67. Liotta played “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in the movie. 

“Field of Dreams is about belief and those rare moments when magic becomes real,” Costner began. “And it doesn’t work unless Shoeless Joe is worth the wait, unless he’s special. And Ray Liotta was special. 

“When Ray died back in May, I reminisced about how our batting practice moment was not a stunt. It was real. And it happened as you saw it." [In the movie, Costner’s Ray Kinsella threw a batting practice pitch to Liotta’s Jackson that was hit back at Costner so hard, it knocked him off his feet.] 

“I said that God gave us that stunt that night, and now God has Ray. And though he may be gone, that’s the beauty of a game like baseball, and a movie like Field of Dreams. He gets to live forever in our hearts whenever he steps out of that cornfield. He becomes eternal. Long live Shoeless Joe, and long live Ray, who helped show us that when dreams come from the heart, they really can come true.”

It’s raining Hall of Famers!
The Hall of Fame is well-stocked with players from the Reds and Cubs, two of baseball’s oldest franchises. That made for a star-studded pregame ceremony at the Field of Dreams that included five Hall of Famers from the Cubs: Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Lee Smith; and three from the Reds: Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.

The group, in addition to Ken Griffey Sr., a key player during the Big Red Machine era, walked out of the cornfield and onto the field with the current players. Jenkins tossed aside an ear of corn he was carrying with him (because why not?) and then threw the ceremonial first pitch to Bench.

Aquino shows his cannon arm, again
Reds right fielder Aristides Aquino had a chance to show off his strong right arm and helped pitcher Nick Lodolo escape a jam in the top of the fourth inning against the Cubs.

After a pair of Chicago singles opened the inning, a one-out single by Nick Madrigal scored a run and made it a 4-0 game. Next, Willson Contreras hit a routine fly ball to right field. P.J. Higgins tagged up and tried to advance to third base. Aquino unleashed a perfect one-hop strike to Kyle Farmer that was in time to nail Higgins for the inning-ending double play.

Pleased with his throw, Aquino blew on two fingers on his right hand. He now has eight assists this season -- including two on throws that were clocked at more than 100 mph.

“Field of Dreams” actors in the house
While Costner had a prior commitment that prevented him from being able to be there in person, a couple of other actors from “Field of Dreams” attended the game: Timothy Busfield, who played Ray Kinsella’s brother-in-law Mark, and Dwier Brown, who played John Kinsella, Ray’s dad. 

Frank Whaley, who played young Archie "Moonlight" Graham, did not attend but tweeted a cool video of the fancy invitation he received from MLB:

Marcus Stroman, pitcher-turned-Field of Dreams photographer
Without the responsibility of pitching in Thursday’s game, Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman used the free time to take photos around the movie site and stadium.

At one point, teammate Franmil Reyes posed in front of a “Field of Dreams” sign, corn behind him, and had Stroman snap his picture. Stroman said he used part of the day to take photos of the grounds and candid shots of his teammates, and he planned on taking more photos during the game.

“I’ll probably bring my camera out there and try to snap as many shots as I can. Just be present,” Stroman said. “I truly am trying to get into photography. I like taking pics, so I’m just out there catching moments. Everything. … The whole atmosphere. I’m just trying to capture the vibe of where I’m at, really, through my lens, which is different than anybody else.”

Votto rewatched the movie
After Wednesday’s Reds loss vs. the Mets, Votto rewatched the Field of Dreams movie and tweeted a thread about his thoughts. A lot of scenes resonated with him, from Moonlight Graham giving up his dream to save a little girl from choking to the final scene where a father and son play catch.

“For me watching the movie, it’s something my father and I shared,” Votto said on Thursday before the game. “It’s something I would give anything for. I wish he was here. I wish, at the end of tonight’s game, he and I could go out on the field and do something we did from when I was 8 or 9 years old. It’s really eerie how much the movie aligns with my life experience.” 

Votto’s father, Joseph, died in 2008.