Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto Explains Emotional Significance of Thursday's MLB Field of Dreams Game

BRB, crying now.

click to enlarge "If you build it, they will come." Left: Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto takes a swing. Right: The 2022 MLB Field of Dreams game field is nearly ready for the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. - Photos: Provided by the Cincinnati Reds; Provided by MLB Photos
Photos: Provided by the Cincinnati Reds; Provided by MLB Photos
"If you build it, they will come." Left: Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto takes a swing. Right: The 2022 MLB Field of Dreams game field is nearly ready for the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs.

Field of Dreams
makes us cry. But hearing Joey Votto talk about Field of Dreams really, really makes us cry.

The Cincinnati Reds are in Dyersville, Iowa, on Aug. 11 to battle the Chicago Cubs in Major League Baseball's Field of Dreams game, an homage to the 1989 Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams. In the movie, Costner's character, Ray, builds a ball field on his land that draws the ghosts of legendary baseball players from the early 20th Century.

But in addition to baseball history (with liberties), Field of Dreams also spotlights the powerful connection between fathers and sons through the sport. Costner's character has a rocky relationship with his father, but through time and divine mechanics, the two finally mend things with a game of catch.

In a series of tweets, Votto talks about that connection that he and his own father had forged with the help of a couple of baseball gloves and leather balls, saying that he was "raised on this movie. "  "From 8 or 9 years old, my father and I would play catch together. In retrospect, to me, it was the most important thing we did together. It strengthened our bond," Votto says. "In Field of Dreams, the movie ends with the main character, Ray, and the ghost of his father having 'a catch.'"  Votto says that with his father having passed, he feels a profound "emotional connection" to the film.

"My father passed away 14+ years ago. So it is impossible for me not to feel an emotional connection to the moment where Ray asks his father for a catch. One more moment together," Votto says.

Votto notes that when the Reds take on the Cubs on Thursday – in historic uniforms, no less – it will be a special moment. The game is a regular-season matchup that counts toward MLB season standings like all other games do, but instead of taking place within Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park or Chicago's Wrigley Field, it will be played at the Iowa filming site for the Field of Dreams movie.

"Getting the opportunity to play a game at the mythical field that sowed the seeds of hope for a Major League Baseball career is a significant moment for me," Votto says. "Couple that with the father/son connection, and this game is an exceptional moment in my life."  Votto recently appeared in a video ad for the Field of Dreams game, which he posted to his Instagram account Aug. 5. In it, Votto is in the Reds' dugout when a game announcer calls him up to bat. He puts on his batting gloves, picks up a bat and goes to grab his helmet, finding unshucked ears of corn in it. He dumps it all to the ground with a wry grin and dashes off-screen. "I corn't wait for next Thursday!" Votto had posted beneath the ad. 
Votto, who has become a social media darling thanks to his wit and goofiness, will wear a microphone during the game and will provide live commentary to analysts in the broadcast booth. The first baseman is known for being hilariously candid during his mic time. During the 2022 season opener against the Atlanta Braves on April 7, Votto jokingly said that he was in a bit of a "midlife crisis" and had been making decisions that were outside his wheelhouse.

"I actually have been considering getting a diamond tooth or a gold tooth, taking out one of my bicuspids and replacing it," Votto said while keeping his eyes on Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson and recently traded starter Tyler Mahle during the game. "So ask the fans what they think about that. I'm thinking about having a little bling in my mouth. You know, send out a poll there."

After Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies arrived at first base, Votto turned to Albies and asked, "Hey, Ozzie, what do you think about me getting a diamond tooth?"

Albies had the reply everyone wanted to hear: "Go for it."

More about the Field of Dreams game

Though MLB hasn't announced a Field of Dreams game for 2023, the event seems to be becoming a new tradition as well as an event with some prestige and revenue generation.

The first Field of Dreams game was to have been played by the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the Sox played the New York Yankees in Iowa on Aug. 12, 2021, marking the first time that an MLB game had been staged within the state. Costner and the two teams walked out of the nearby cornfield as a tribute to one iconic scene in the Field of Dreams film. The White Sox won 9-8, and the highly anticipated game drew 5.9 million viewers. 
Ahead of the game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs on Aug. 11, Major League Baseball hosted two events to highlight players who someday could find themselves in the major leagues. First, a minor-league game between the Quad Cities River Bandits (affiliated with the Kansas City Royals) and the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins) took place Aug. 9. That was followed Aug. 10 with a youth game that included players from Cincinnati's RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program.

Throwback uniforms

The Reds' and Cubs' uniforms for the Field of Dreams game take on a historical dimension, MLB says. The Reds' uniforms are inspired by the club's 1919 team, which was mentioned, of course, in the same breath as the Chicago Black Sox scandal. Sox player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (played by the late Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams) and other members of the Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball after allegedly throwing that year's World Series against the Reds in order to make money from gamblers. The Reds won the Series.

For the game in Dyersville, the Reds' throwback jerseys and pants are white with navy pinstripes and feature the familiar wide red "C" logo on the jersey's left side. The caps also are white with navy pinstripes, but there's a thick red band near the brim and a vintage "C" at the middle front.
The Cubs will sport cream jerseys with navy blue piping around the placket, sleeves and neck, and the team's logo is the vintage cub holding a bat in the center of a red "C." The uniforms are inspired by the Cubs' 1929 season, MLB says.

Playing to win

During a recent media briefing, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said that the Reds are preparing for the MLB Field of Dreams game in the same ways they do for games throughout the rest of the season. The Reds will play the Cubs in Dyersville for the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 11, will have a travel day on Aug. 12 and then will play the remaining games of the series at Great American Ball Park on Aug. 13 and 14. 
"I think the only difference is that we're traveling on a day that we were going to play rather than the night before, and then we have to, you know, prepare our bodies for that and kind of just have fun with it," he said. "You know, it's not going to feel like a normal baseball game, I guess you could say, but the bases are the same, distance to the mound is the same distance, so we're just going to have fun with it."

The Reds will play to win, Farmer said.

"Every game counts for us. You know, 162 games, every game counts, whether it's selfishly or for the team. We're out there trying to put up numbers and trying to win a ballgame," Farmer said. "Just a different atmosphere. It'll probably make us play even better. Who knows?"

How to watch MLB's Field of Dreams game

Fans can watch the Cincinnati Reds in the Field of Dreams game at 7 p.m. Aug. 11 on FOX, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app.

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