When I saw the headline earlier today about the Commissioner of Baseball and Hall of Famer John Smoltz visiting the Field of Dreams site this afternoon, it took me back to the first time I saw that movie, and a tradition my then-wife and I had whenever we went to Iowa. Baseball’s top man and the former Braves star will be at the site in Dyersville, Iowa where the movie was made. The event itself is to promote a tour by the Hall of Fame that will encompass many cities in the next few years.
If you’re a fan, the 1989 movie is etched in your mind. If you’re not familiar, Kevin Kostner played the star, Ray Kinsella. A mysterious voice repeatedly told him “If you build it, he will come.” He got the idea in his head that Shoeless Jackson would come if he built a ball field in Iowa. Which he did, to the shock of his farmer neighbors and at risk of ruining his marriage to Annie, played by Amy Madigan. Ray Liotta played Shoeless Joe, and when he appeared he said to Kostner “Is this heaven?” To which Kostner said “No, it’s Iowa.” It was also Burt Lancaster’s final film.
At today’s event an announcement will be made concerning which cities the Hall of Fame tour will visit, and which exhibits will travel the land. In the future the space will be used for an Allstar BallPark Heaven complex. This weekend a youth tournament will be held in Dubuque, but the kids will come to the Field of Dreams site to see the movie and have baseball-related competitions.
And the family tradition? My fiancee and I were both big fans of the movie “Field of Dreams.” I was employed by the St. Paul Saints between 1997 and 1999. After the 1997 season I was married and brought my bride from Connecticut to St. Paul. In 1998 and 1999 she and I would travel to Sioux City whenever the Saints played there. When we had ourselves checked in and our stuff put away, I would take her in my arms and murmur “Is this heaven,” to which she would reply “No, it’s Iowa.”
Jake Arrieta showed a rare streak of humanity by giving up runs to the Cardinals, but his team backed him up as the Cubs won 9-8. In the regular season going back to last year, he had made 30 starts where he gave up 3 runs or less. That ended last night. But the Cubs had put up 6 in the second inning and gotten a 3-run home run by Chris Bryant to cement the win for the ace. They have now won 23 starts of his in a row, tying a record set by the Braves. Ben Zobrist, whose birthday is today now has a 12-game hitting streak following 3 hits yesterday. In a 3-game series in St. Louis he reached base by hit or walk no fewer than 10 times.
As was the case yesterday, between college tournament play and the majors you have your share of games to pick from if afternoon baseball is your kind of entertainment. The earliest game is in Pittsburgh where the D-backs and Pirates finish out their series. Their starter Patrick Corbin is a road warrior, with a 2.01 ERA away from Arizona and a 6.48 in the valley of the sun. He’ll need to bring his best road game against Gerritt Cole, the stud of the Pirates staff. The Marlins and Rays play just after 1 PM in St. Pete. The Blue Jays and Yankees play at 4 PM in the Bronx, where the Jays ended the Yankees’ winning streak last night. The Yankees, who don’t do well against lefties see another one in J. A. Happ, while their own lefty CC Sabathia pitches for the Yankees. The highlight of tonight’s Colorado-Boston game will be watching Wade Boggs get his number retired. I’ve been to one of those ceremonies for Mike Schmidt, and it is a site to behold. Knowing Boston it will be handled with class.
As mentioned above, Ben Zobrist is 35 today. He is the Cubs’ second baseman after much speculation concerning where he would go in the last offseason. He’s a native of Eureka, Illinois who has been in the show for at least part of the last decade. He was with the Rays from 2006-14, then Oakland and Kansas City in 2015 before joining the Cubs. He has twice been an All-Star, both with the Rays and was on the Royals’ World Series winning team in 2015. He was an Astros’ draftee in round 6 in 2004.
Former third baseman Darrell Evans is 69 today. He carved out a 20-year career with over 2200 hits and more than 400 home runs with the Braves, Giants and Tigers. He was an All-Star twice, in 1973 and 1983. His 1984 Tigers blazed to a 35-5 start, won the league and the World Series without breathing hard. He led his league in home runs the next season, and was the oldest man to do so at age 38. As early as 2007 he began managing teams in independent baseball leagues, which he still does.0