Chicago Cubs pitchers Adrian Sampson, Justin Steele focus on fatherhood at Field of Dreams

·4 min read

DYERSVILLE — Relationships between fathers and sons is one of the central themes of “Field of Dreams.” Released in 1989 – long before Major League Baseball players came to Dyersville – the movie’s message is still impactful.

Especially for some Chicago Cubs players in Iowa for Thursday’s Field of Dreams game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Adrian Sampson wasn't in the starting lineup for the Cubs, but this game is about more than wins or losses for the 30-year-old pitcher. He spent parts of the 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines, but he never made the three-hour trip to Dyersville to visit the “Field of Dreams” movie site before Thursday.

“What are we, a few hours away from Des Moines?” Sampson told the Register prior to the game. “I’ve seen the movie a bunch of times but I honestly didn’t really know where the city was. So yeah, never been out here … but it’s incredible.”

While it’s been some time since Sampson watched “Field of Dreams,” he understands that the movie revolves around the themes of fatherhood and father-son relationships. It’s something that hits a little closer to home for Sampson on this game day.

Live coverage: The Field of Dreams game is here. Follow for live updates of Cubs vs. Reds in Iowa.

Sampson’s father, David, died of cancer in May 2020 after being diagnosed earlier that year. Adrian Sampson shared in an Instagram post that being away from home during that time was difficult.

Two years later, the Cubs are in a game that pays homage to a movie focused on fathers and sons.

Chicago Cubs player Adrian Sampson walks out of the corn before Thursday's Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.
Chicago Cubs player Adrian Sampson walks out of the corn before Thursday's Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.

Sampson sometimes honors his dad by writing something on the underside of his baseball cap’s bill. With the team providing players with all-new gear for Thursday’s game, he hadn’t had a chance to add something to the throwback cap, but he planned on writing something before the game started.

This is a moment Sampson would’ve wanted to share with his dad – and something he knows his dad would’ve loved.

“That’s what the whole movie was all about,” Sampson said. “Giving him one more chance to have a catch with his dad. It’s a unique experience, and I wish he could be here.

More: 'It's unbelievable here': Field of Dreams trip wins over big-league baseball players — again

“He would think this is the coolest thing in the world. He’d want me to enjoy it … he would definitely want to be here and be a part of this. It’s hard to put in words right now. I feel like the emotions will come. I’m just gonna try to take it all in and obviously I’ll be thinking about him a lot.”

Sampson isn’t the only Cubs player who is appreciating the father-son aspect of the movie, and how that fed into the energy of Thursday’s game.

Cubs pitcher Justin Steele and his fiancée, Libby, welcomed their son, Beau, to the world on July 11. Exactly one month later, Beau will attend his first baseball game, and it’s a game unlike any other.

“I’m really looking forward, this is gonna be his first baseball game he’s ever been to,” Steele told the Register. “It’s really special and it means a lot.”

It’s been “a very long time” since Steele has seen the movie, but he remembers the key themes and he knows this is something he will tell his son about for the rest of his life. Steele wants Beau to know that his first baseball game was “one of the coolest ones you could ever go to.”

More: How an Iowa couple is celebrating their love, while honoring a late friend at Field of Dreams

And while even being in the dugout for this game is special, seeing his fiancée and sharing that moment with his son postgame is something Steele was more excited about.

“That’s honestly what I’m looking forward to most,” Steele said.

Chicago Cubs players pose for a photo on the porch of the house featured in "Field of Dreams" before Thursday's Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Dyersville.
Chicago Cubs players pose for a photo on the porch of the house featured in "Field of Dreams" before Thursday's Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Dyersville.

Cubs executive Jed Hoyer said he attended last year’s game as a fan with his sons. Chicago manager David Ross also understands what the field and game symbolize.

“It takes you back to the movie and standing for what the movie’s all about,” Ross said during his press conference Thursday. “Just the relationship between father and son, and how the national pastime, our game, and being able to grow up and have a catch with your dad.

“I think everybody can remember that and relate to that feeling and how – whether your dad is still alive or not – being able to go back and that we get to have those moments with family and your parents. I don’t think that ever goes away.”

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Chicago Cubs players at the Field of Dreams game focus on fatherhood