116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s the lone Iowan on the team, been the lone Iowan on every one of his professional baseball teams.
Guys he has played with and been coached by just assume he’s been to the Field of Dreams in rural Dyersville.
Iowa’s not that big, you know, and everyone knows everyone. That’s the stereotypical assumption.
“Just growing up in Iowa and then playing professional baseball, yeah, you get the question a lot,” Cedar Rapids Kernels relief pitcher Matt Mullenbach said. “It’s always one of the first ones I get. Your teammates would ask you ‘Have you been to the Field of Dreams?’ I always let them down and say I haven’t been ... yet.”
That’ll change Tuesday when Mullenbach and the Kernels play Quad Cities in the first minor league game ever at the Field of Dreams stadium. First pitch is scheduled for a couple of minutes past 6 p.m. and will be televised live by MLB Network.
Few tickets remained for the game as of Monday afternoon, with a crowd of 7,800-plus anticipated. The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds play Thursday night in the second major league game played at the Field of Dreams.
“I have watched the movie multiple times,” said Mullenbach, a Waukee High School graduate. “I think a couple of us are going to watch it tomorrow.”
Walking around the Kernels clubhouse at Veterans Memorial Stadium the other day, you tried to gauge exactly how many players have seen the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner. It has been over 30 years since its release after all.
“I’m sure I have, but it’s been a long time ago,” said Kernels outfielder Dylan Neuse. “I don’t really watch movies. I mean, I know of it, know the basics.”
“I actually plan on watching it so I know what’s going on, what we’re getting into. I’m not a big baseball movie person, honestly,” said Kernels pitcher Bobby Milacki. “I mean, I’ve seen clips and things of it. But that’s about it.”
Milacki’s dad, Bob, was a longtime former pitcher in the big leagues and minor league coach.
“Baseball kind of runs through my family, so I feel kind of bad that I haven’t seen it,” he said. “But I also have never seen ‘Bull Durham’ or ‘For Love Of The Game.’ The only couple I’ve seen are the comedy ones, like ‘Major League.’ Obviously, I’ve seen ‘The Sandlot.’”
The Kernels will leave Cedar Rapids about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday in two buses, hoping to arrive in Dyersville about 1 p.m. They’ll be escorted through town and to the Field of Dreams via police escort.
After unpacking their gear into the visitor’s clubhouse, which is a deluxe tent complete with air conditioning and showers, they’ll get an opportunity to sight see around the entire complex for an hour and a half: walk through cornfields outside the outfield fences and to the original movie site, which is adjacent to the stadium.
They’ll take infield, outfield and batting practice on the major league quality field pregame, and other festivities are planned.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Kernels pitcher Bradley Hanner. “I think it’s going to be a blast, something we tell our grandkids about. Hopefully they’ll see that movie just like I did when I was a kid. It’s going to be sick to tell them I played there on the first minor league team to get to play there.”
“I had no idea we were going to get this kind of treatment,” Milacki said. “I thought we were just going out there and playing a game. I had no idea it was going to be on MLB Network, just thought it’d be on the local MiLB (internet) channel. Good for us. I’m not going to complain about it. It feels like we’re the big leaguers for a day.”
It’ll be back to reality once they hit their buses after the game and travel to Davenport for the rest of the six-game Midwest League series.
“It’ll be an exciting night,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “A field out in the corn right next to the Field of Dreams site, that’ll be fun. Win or lose, I think the guys will have a good time with it. Being out there and playing baseball, kind of going back to your childhood or whatever ... It’ll be a good night. I’ll be a fun game to be a part of.”
Neuse’s parents have traveled from Texas to attend Tuesday’s game.
“It’s just another day, but it’ll be a cool experience being at a field like that. It’s history, and they’re trying to make more history,” he said. “It’ll definitely be different because of the atmosphere. But I guess in the end, it’s still just baseball.”
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