For Western Australian Liam Hendriks, the chance to appear in Major League Baseball’s latest experiment, the Field of Dreams game, is an exciting moment for an athlete who grew up watching the film which forms the basis of this game-changing event.
In a highly anticipated game that was originally scheduled for the 2020 MLB season, the baseball community will have all eyes on a recently-designed 8,000-seat baseball stadium in Dyersville, Iowa. The game will also mark the first MLB game in the state.
What makes this particular site special, and gives the game and the field its namesake, is that the location provided the backdrop to the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, staring Kevin Costner.
Field of Dreams centres on a farmer who, out in the cornfield, hears a voice telling him to build a baseball field. It in turn attracts ghosts of former baseball legends including Shoeless Joe Jackson, a member of the outcasted Chicago Black Sox.
The movie heavily features the Chicago White Sox and as such, they will be one of the teams participating in the monumental event, as will the New York Yankees.
The field for the landmark MLB game itself has been built adjacent to the movie site and features a dedicated path through the cornfield that connects each outfield.
Liam Hendriks, a Perth local who is currently plying his trade as a relief pitcher for the White Sox is eager to be a part of the game, and its added fanfare.
“I’m excited,” Hendriks told reporters in a conference call.
“It’s not every day you get to be [playing in] the first-ever Major League game in a state. That’s kind of cool. Hopefully I don’t suck and give up the first homer in the state of Iowa.”
The 32-year-old says he grew up watching the movie as a kid and spoke of the affect it had on him as the movie reached Aussie shores.
“I don’t think it matters what the actual genre [of the movie] was about. If it had Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta or James Earl Jones, you were getting it in Australia,” Hendriks said.
“I remember watching it as a kid and really didn’t understand baseball, just saw a bunch of ghosts running around and I thought it was kind of cool.”
The two-time MLB All-Star pitcher also didn’t hide the fact that he might return to that child-like state and take in the awe of the occasion.
“I want to do my own ‘Shoeless Joe’ kind of feeling, walk through the corn to the actual field,” Hendriks said.
“There’s a 100% chance I’m going to get lost in the (corn) maze (next to field). I may need to have a flare gun in case I get lost and I need to start pitching.”
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The left-hander Hendriks said he loves these sorts of events and again expressed his excitement at being able to perform in these experiences.
“I love these events. I don’t mind the extra travel and everything like that. This is a fun experience for me,” Hendriks said.
“I got to experience the Japan Series in 2019 when I was part of the [Oakland] A’s, and this is just another one to put a feather in the cap and get the chance to experience some things that are a little bit different in this game, break up the monotony of every day.”
The closer also believes that instances such as Field of Dreams is a good story for baseball.
“I love going to different things,” he said.
“I was in Iowa playing in the Minor Leagues. I’m always interested in doing the games where they have a specific meaning behind it. Something that adds that little character to the game.
“You get the chance to go to a place where you may not have visited. I’m excited about running through the cornfields because who wouldn’t be. There are certain things that resonate with a game like this.
“This is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to play in one of these games. It’s different and it’s fun.”
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