116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DYERSVILLE — Though Thursday’s participants were the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds, the spirit of the Field of Dreams Game may have been captured best by a man wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jersey.
The Redbirds fan had a vehicle pulled off the side of the road about a mile from the ballpark, and was offering bottled water to any slow-moving motorist who wanted some.
The price? Zero dollars, which was considerably cheaper than what it cost inside the ballpark.
Why are you doing this, a gridlocked sports writer asked the good-hearted man.
“Just because,” he said.
"Just because“ was all the answer the sellout crowd of 7,823 needed to give for attending this event. Not everything needs a cosmic purpose. Summer fun is plenty.
This technically was a home game for the 44-67 Reds, and it seemed like one in downtown Dyersville Thursday afternoon.
Reds supporters from Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and elsewhere made the trek to Dyersville, finding something interesting amid another mundane season for their ballclub.
Ken Griffey Jr., Ken Griffey Sr., George Foster and Dave Concepcion are star Reds of the past who were in town for this. Judging by the number of Griffey, Johnny Bench and even Pete Rose jerseys fans wore here, Reds fans miss yesteryear more than any of us.
Of course, Cubs fans had a considerable presence here to cheer on their 46-65 also-rans. If you’re going to be six years and a whole lot of glory away from your 2016 world-championship team, you might as well go back a full century.
Two young fans held a Cubs Win ‘W’ flag outside their grandparents’ home on the road that leads from Dyersville to Field of Dreams. Many a passing car honked at them to validate their fandom.
“I don’t know,” 12-year-old Landon Sturm of Bellevue said when asked why he and his 10-year-old brother, Eli, were displaying the sign.
“We can’t go to the game,” Eli said, “so we’re holding this up.”
Tickets were high-priced for lads their age — or anyone else who isn’t independently wealthy — but they got to see the Cubs play in St. Louis last week, so that almost was as good. There’s no cornfield behind Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, but Iowa kids have seen enough agriculture to be unfazed by the novelty of it.
Three Eastern Iowa kids got a heck of a thrill before this game, though. Jett Ahn, Oliver Schamberger and Kevion Estremera were among eight boys and girls who emerged from the cornfield beyond the outfield fence before the game. They “had a catch” with dads Peter Ahn and Josh Schamberger and grandmother Pat Anderson.
The Griffeys preceded the eight pairs of family members onto the field, and then came baseball luminaries of Cubs and Reds vintage like Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins, Barry Larkin, and Bench himself.
It was 77 degrees with a comfortable light breeze at the 6:23 p.m. first pitch. The Cubs’ 4-2 victory was a game with no consequence to pennant races and left no etchings in MLB lore. Who cared?
The sky was blue and the corn was green. The playing field was manicured so expertly that it was almost hard to believe it was natural grass. Technology combined with baseball to present another MLB game in the breadbasket that was beamed across the nation and beyond.
Had someone told you 10, 20, 50 years ago that regular-season Major League Baseball games would be played in Iowa, you would have assumed something horrendous had struck Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri while somehow skipping us.
Nah. It was something nice. A novel was written about baseball and ghosts and families and Iowa. Then a movie was made about those things. Then a tourist attraction was created outside Dyersville and people kept coming to it year after year.
Then a stadium was built. Why? Let’s go with the same reason given by that kind fellow who gave away bottled water to thirsty travelers. Just because.
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