Liam Hendriks has contributed to a part of Major League Baseball history, his pitching efforts helping earn the Chicago White Sox a win as the Western Australian took to the Field of Dreams.
It was the first Major League Baseball game to be played in the state of Iowa and was made even more special with the homages to a classic 1989 film, Field of Dreams.
A film that starred Kevin Costner told the story of a farmer who hears a voice telling him to build a baseball stadium, it’s quote still memorable to this day; “If you build it, he will come”.
And that’s exactly what the MLB did, build a stadium adjacent to the movie site, just across the cornfield and surely, a capacity crowd of 8,000 arrived to take in the spectacle.
The entrance by the players, and the star of Field of Dreams, Costner who threw the ceremonial first pitch, was reminiscent of the film itself where the ghosts of former baseball players appeared in and walked through the cornfield to get onto the outfield grass and play ball.
One person who was just as excited as everyone else for this event was Perth’s own Liam Hendriks who is currently suiting up for the Chicago White Sox, one of the teams participating in the Field of Dreams game.
The Australian closing pitcher entered the game through a bullpen beyond the outfield corn for his chance to take the mound and contribute to a win for the White Sox.
While the scoreline read 7-4 in Chicago’s favour, Hendriks, in one inning of work blew the save opportunity after giving up three hits and four runs that included two home runs.
At the top of the ninth, Hendriks replaced Craig Kimbrel and after surrendering a lead-off single, struck out the next two hitters up at the plate.
A two-out two-run home run from Yankee Aaron Judge cut the margin to one though the White Sox still lead.
A base on balls to Joey Gallo provided the chance for Giancarlo Stanton to send another ball deep over the fence, wherein the Yankees took a one-run lead before Hendriks claimed the final out, his third strikeout of the inning.
What saved the 32-year-old Hendriks from almost contributing to a defeat was a Tim Anderson two-run blast over the fence in rightfield which gave the American League Central-leading White Sox a walk-off victory, winning 9-8. As such, Hendriks was credited with the win.
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Taking in the atmosphere of the Field of Dreams game, Hendriks told MLB.com there were moments of awe as he maxed out his camera roll, taking photos of everything to do with the purpose-built stadium and its deeper connections.
“I walked through the bullpen. There’s no fence right behind the bullpen, so I ran through the cornfields there,” Hendriks said.
“But I walked to the other side [of the corn maze], I took some photos on the porch swing of the house. I actually walked through the house. The guys who were staying there tonight, who won it through an auction, they’re White Sox fans, so I was able to take a photo with them and walk through the house, which was fantastic.”
Hendriks, who remembers watching the film when he was younger says the imagery and the connections were still resonating with the wonder that made the move a classic and this event memorable.
“I’m wearing my game pants right now, so I was actively trying to avoid getting dirty. But other than that, it was awesome. It’s a unique smell that I didn’t quite anticipate. But it was cool,” Hendriks said about weaving through the cornfield to get onto the grass of the stadium itself.
“That’s the iconic thing of what you want to do at an event like this. It’s the iconic thing I was looking forward to more than anything.
“And so being able to run through there, get some photos in there has been fantastic. I’m sure at some point in the near future, anyone who follows me on Instagram is going to get very, very sick of corn photos.
“Now, I’m going to relate everything to corn. Whether it be cream corn, street corn, jalapeno corn, corn stalks, whatever it is. It definitely lived up to the experience.”
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