Young Cincinnati Baseball Players to Get National Spotlight Before MLB Field of Dreams Game

This week's players, who are 14 years old and younger, could wind up in the majors later.

click to enlarge Major League Baseball is preparing this Dyersville, Iowa, field for the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs to battle in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 11, 2022. - Photo: Provided by MLB Photos
Photo: Provided by MLB Photos
Major League Baseball is preparing this Dyersville, Iowa, field for the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs to battle in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 11, 2022.
Sure, the Cincinnati Reds are rightfully getting a ton of attention for this week's upcoming MLB Field of Dreams game, but young baseball players from around the region also are preparing for their own memorable experience in Iowa.

Ahead of the Cincinnati Reds' Aug. 11 battle with the Chicago Cubs in Dyersville, Iowa, which will serve as an homage to the film Field of Dreams, Major League Baseball will host 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) will take place Aug. 9. That will be followed Aug. 10 with a youth game that includes players from Cincinnati's RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program.

The Field of Dreams 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 of the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. In the movie, Kevin Costner's character builds a ball field on his land that draws the ghosts of legendary baseball players.

Minor League Baseball game Aug. 9

The minor-league game between the River Bandits and Kernels will be played on the same stadium field where the Reds and Cubs will battle it out later this week. It's not the field shown in the movie; rather, this stadium has been constructed specifically for MLB and affiliated games. According to Wikipedia, "The field constructed for the film, which has been operated as a tourist destination since 1989, could not be brought to MLB game standards without permanently altering major features of the property and destroying its movie authenticity, so it was decided to build a separate playing facility at a distance of approximately 500 ft (150 m) in the cornfields."

The MiLB game will be a throwback of sorts, renaming the River Bandits and Kernels for older teams. The River Bandits will become the Davenport Blue Sox, while the Kernals will be known as the Cedar Rapids Bunnies. Both names refer to what the modern teams had been called in the early decades of the 20th Century. The teams also will wear throwback uniforms.

Baseball fans can watch the MiLB game at 7 p.m. on MLB Network.

'A Dream Fulfilled' game Aug. 10

Cincinnati kids will get the spotlight when they play in MLB's "A Dream Fulfilled" game on Aug. 10. RBI teams from both Cincinnati and Chicago will take part. According to the Reds' website, the local year-round RBI program aims to increase baseball and softball participation among underserved youth, particularly those with diverse backgrounds. The program also tries to "increase  [the] number of talented athletes prepared to play in college and professionally," the Reds' website says.

All players are ages 14 and under, and 17 kids currently are on the roster. A press release from Major League Baseball says that Cincinnati's senior boys team "won the RBI World Series in 2021, and the RBI softball team is currently participating in its fourth consecutive RBI World Series."

The youth exhibition will be played on the original field shown in Field of Dreams. First pitch is at 5 p.m. Aug. 10, and fans can watch the game on Fox Sports 1.

A new tradition

It seems that the Field of Dreams game is becoming an annual tradition – and 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 movie scene. The White Sox won 9-8, and the highly anticipated game drew 5.9 million viewers.

During a recent media briefing, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said Costner's appearance at the 2021 Field of Dreams game was special.

"I thought it was pretty cool watching Kevin Costner come out of the corn and seeing, like, [Yankees outfielder] Aaron Judge and all those guys walk out. It was pretty cool watching that," Farmer said. "And I'm not sure if Kevin's going to be there [for the Reds' game] or not, but that would be really cool to see him or to see any of the actors or actresses."

Farmer said that the Reds are preparing for the 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?"

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