The field will be the star when the Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds in the second annual "Field of Dreams" game Thursday night in Dyersville, Iowa. The Reds will bat last and serve as the "home" team while the Cubs will be the designated visiting team.
The Chicago White Sox beat the New York Yankees in the inaugural game in 2021 at the stadium built next to the iconic site of the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and the late Ray Liotta. It will be the first major league game played there since Liotta died in May.
The White Sox won the game last year, 9-8, in Hollywood fashion when Tim Anderson drilled a two-run homer into the corn fields in right field in the bottom of the ninth.
This year, two teams with no postseason aspirations that have spent time in the cellar of the National League Central are set to square off.
Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel admitted it will be difficult for the Cubs and Reds to better the dramatic ending of the inaugural game.
"I don't know if we can," Schwindel said. "It's going to be tough to beat, but we're going to show up like it's any other day, play hard and hope we put on a show for the fans.
"Watching homers go out into the corn, it's just something special," Schwindel added. "It's going to be a lot of fun. We're very spoiled to play at Wrigley every day. A lot of history, obviously. I think we're going to try to soak it all in when we get to that field. We'll walk through the corn, sit on the iconic bench out front."
After winning four of their first six on a nine-game road trip to move to 19 games under .500, the Reds were swept in a three-game series in New York against the Mets and have fallen back into a tie for last place in the NL Central. The Cubs took two of three games from Washington and have won four of six entering Thursday.
The Cubs will send lefty Drew Smyly (4-6, 3.97 ERA) to the mound in Dyersville. He is 4-0 in his career against Cincinnati with a 3.41 ERA in six appearances (five starts).
In his last start on Saturday against Miami, Smyly earned his fourth win of the season, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Reds will counter with rookie left-hander Nick Lodolo (3-3, 4.40), who will be making his 10th career start, and his first career appearance against the Cubs.
In last Saturday's 7-5 win at Milwaukee, Lodolo allowed three runs, including a pair of homers, in 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision.
Earlier in the week, Reds manager David Bell confirmed with Lodolo that he would be given the unique opportunity to start the special game.
"He's like, 'You know you're pitching, right?'" Lodolo said. "I was like, 'Yeah, I kind of figured. It just lined up.' It's going to be cool. I'm excited for it."
Joey Votto was a 5-year-old boy in Toronto when the "Field of Dreams" movie was released. To this day, the movie makes him think of his father, Joseph, who died in 2008.
"It has more meaning now that my father passed," Votto said. "It's what I do for a living. My father and I played catch. It was the beginning of my baseball experience. Now playing in the Field of Dreams Game in August, it's not entirely full circle, per se, but it will have meaning."
--Field Level Media