(NewsNation) — The Field of Dreams was built for one purpose: to allow baseball legends of a bygone era to once again dig their cleats into the sand of a baseball diamond. Their ghosts showed up in the popular movie to not just play nine innings of America’s national pastime, but to connect generations of baseball fans.
That of course, was why the fictional Field of Dreams was built in the movie “Field of Dreams.” The real Field of Dreams, however, where the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds will square Thursday off in a matchup between two of baseball’s worst teams, might fulfill the destiny of the fictional field.
Actor Ray Liotta, who played White Sox legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams,” died this year at 67. Thursday’s game will be not just an homage to hundreds of years of baseball history, but a tribute to a man who made baseball movie history.
Located in Dyersville, Iowa. a farm town with far more stalks of corn and field mice than people (population: 4,400), the Field of Dreams will host Major League Baseball for a second year in a row when the Cubs and Reds take the field, hoping to follow up the resounding success of last year’s Yankees and White Sox contest there.
“Just really excited,” Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki said through a translator. “It’s not a field where you can play on every day.”
Both the Cubs and Reds will wear uniforms inspired by how the teams dressed in the early 20th century, when they were still fledgling franchises and players had to work off-season jobs to put food on their tables.
“If you build it, they will come,” was the famous line uttered in the movie, and it proved to be as true in real life as it did in the film. The stadium in Dyersville can only seat 8,000 people, far fewer than a typical MLB stadium, but TV viewers flocked to last year’s game. Approximately 6 million people watched the Field of Dreams game last year, making it the most-watched MLB regular season game since 1998.
“There’s moments in the season where you get something different that’s exciting, and making sure you appreciate that, I think, is the main thing for me,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
When the nostalgia of the field and moment dissipate however, an actual MLB game needs to be played, and this year’s contest comes between Cubs and Reds teams that are among the most embarrassing in baseball this season.
The Cubs are just 45-65 this season and are a far cry from the popular team that made history in 2016 by winning the franchise’s first world series in 108 years. There are few faces anyone in a national audience will recognize on this Cubs team. Willson Contreras, anyone?
Same goes for the Reds, who just traded their most productive players, starting pitcher Luis Castillo and infielder Brandon Drury, at the trade deadline, prompted to do so by the their paltry 44-66 record. The Reds still have potential Hall-of-Famer Joey Votto playing first base, but other than that, this roster is hard to recognize.
Still, if last year’s game, in which White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a walk-off home run into the corn stalks to beat the Yankees while a chorus of fireworks echoed behind him, is any indication of what is to come this year, MLB and fans should be happy to watch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.