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Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks has a checklist for the team’s trip to Dyersville, Iowa, for Thursday’s Field of Dreams game against the New York Yankees.
“I want to do my own Shoeless Joe kind of feeling, walk through the corn to the actual field,” Hendriks said during a conference call Monday. “There’s a 100 percent chance I’m going to get lost in the (corn) maze (next to field). I may need to have a flare gun in case I get lost and I need to start pitching.”
Count Hendriks among those eager to participate in Iowa’s first major league game.
“I’m excited,” Hendriks said. “It’s not every day you get to be the first-ever major league game in a state. That’s kind of cool. Hopefully I don’t suck and give up the first homer in the state of Iowa.”
The Sox and Yankees begin a three-game series in the most unusual of locations. Thursday’s game will be played at a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark on the Dyersville farm where the Academy Award-nominated 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed. The game will be televised nationally on Fox at 6 p.m.
“I was raised to embrace the history of the game,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday. “Too often we lose parts of it. We should do a better job and we should do that.
“ ‘Field of Dreams’ is a great movie, embraces all about family and (what) the game is all about. A very special opportunity. Our guys are really excited to be there. I’ve seen some of the comments already. Should be a great day for the White Sox.”
Lance Lynn will start the series opener in place of Carlos Rodón, whom the Sox placed on the injured list Wednesday with left shoulder fatigue. La Russa also will miss the game to attend his brother-in-law’s funeral.
The second and third games of the series will be at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday and Sunday.
“I love these events,” Hendriks said. “I don’t mind the extra travel and everything like that. This is a fun experience for me. I got to experience the Japan Series in 2019 when I was part of the A’s, and this is just another one to put a feather in the cap and get the chance to experience some things that are a little bit different in this game, break up the monotony of every day.”
Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada said through an interpreter that he has seen the movie and “just having the experience is going to be nice.”
Dwier Brown, who played John Kinsella in the movie, never imagined a scenario like Thursday would ever play out.
“It’s unbelievable,” Brown said during Monday’s conference call. “When you’re making a movie, particularly one like that and you have a role that has five pages in the script, you don’t expect much of anything except hopefully your paycheck. To think that I’m talking to you guys about this with some All-Star players (such as Hendriks) is just amazing, 33 years later. It just keeps giving and giving.”
Brown plans to be in attendance.
“It’s been an amazing thing,” he said. “I was an actor for 40 years, and nobody stops and asks me about the episodes of ‘ER’ I did. But a certain amount of people, they look at me strangely from across the room and come over and tell me some amazing story about how that movie changed their relationship with their dad.
“To me, that’s what I became an actor for, to possibly be in some movies that made a difference in people’s lives. I feel honored to have been a part of it. I’m grateful for my little piece in the whole puzzle.”
Hendriks had fond memories of watching the movie when he was younger.
“I don’t think it matters what the actual genre was about, if it had Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta or James Earl Jones, you were getting it in Australia,” said Hendriks, who was born in Perth, Australia. “I remember watching it as a kid and really didn’t understand baseball, just saw a bunch of ghosts running around and I thought it was kind of cool.”
The temporary ballpark’s bullpens, which will be located behind the 12-foot-high padded wall in center field, are designed to resemble old Comiskey Park.
“It’s been a fun journey since August of 2019 when we broke ground at this site,” said Murray Cook, president of BrightView Sports Turf Division and an MLB consultant who oversaw the building of the playing field. “Clearing the corn just like Ray Kinsella and his daughter did in the tractor.
“This one hits all the heartstrings. It’s really cool.”
Hendriks sees the event as “good for the game of baseball.”
“I love going to different things,” he said. “I was in Iowa playing in the minor leagues. I’m always interested in doing the games where they have a specific meaning behind it. Something that adds that little character to the game.
“You get the chance to go to a place where you may not have visited. I’m excited about running through the cornfields because who wouldn’t be. There are certain things that resonate with a game like this. This is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to play in one of these games. It’s different and it’s fun.”