DYERSVILLE – Home sweet home?
Even though Franmil Reyes never set foot in Iowa until Thursday afternoon, he felt something familiar from his home in Sabana Grande de Palenque in the Dominican Republic.
“When the plane landed and I saw the corn, I felt like I was home,” Reyes said. “Back in the Dominican Republic, I live where the farms are. Everything is very green. It’s great.
“It’s like playing at home.”
The Chicago Cubs outfielder walked around with a smile on his face as he took in the sights and sounds of the Field of Dreams.
Until a few weeks ago he wasn’t going to be in this game. He was in the Cleveland Guardians organization before being nominated for an assignment.
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“For me, it’s a blessing,” Reyes said.
He called it a dream and mentioned how he had watched the movie Field of Dreams twice. Seeing everything in person, from the ghost players at the stadium, he was impressed.
And he will make sure, with every round and every throw, to absorb everything.
“It’s amazing and I’m very grateful for that,” Reyes said. “I’m going to enjoy every moment. It’s an incredible experience that I can share with my family and I hope one day (my children) will play here.”
A little practice
When the Cubs were facing the Cincinnati Reds in a regular season series, they turned one of the media rooms into a mock setup for the Field of Dreams game.
Outfielder Ian Happ enjoyed grooming his teammates and followed some Iowa traditions along the way.
“I chipped corn,” said Happ, who will mic for the game with Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Much of the Cubs players waltzed to the movie site adjacent to the stadium and out of the corn.
“It was fun,” infielder Nico Hoerner said.
The dimensions of the temporary Dyersville Stadium are 335 feet in the corners, 380 in the spaces, and 400 in the immediate center. There were a handful of home runs in last year’s edition.
Some of the favorites to belt one in the corn will be Votto, Reds third baseman Jonathan India and for the Cubs, Happ and wide receiver Wilson Contreras.
“Home runs only,” Happ joked.
India mentioned that he would want the ball back if he ran through the bases.
“I would love to get the ball back, I would trade anything (for that),” he said.
Votto doesn’t like memories.
“Just memory is enough,” he said.
David against David
Reds manager David Bell and Cubs skipper David Ross were both sentimental about going to town, seeing the crowds and seeing how welcoming the people were.
“You start to realize what’s so special about this day,” Bell said. “My favorite part was the people on the side of the road. It was very crowded.”
“It exceeded expectations,” added Ross.
Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Contact him by email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.