DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Nick Lodolo was one of the first Cincinnati Reds players to walk onto the field with his 1919-inspired uniform at the Field of Dreams on Thursday.
The rookie left-hander had one of the tougher tasks. All players wanted to savor the experience, taking photos of the cornfield surrounding the outfield, and he had to balance that excitement with preparing for his start against the Chicago Cubs.
About 25 minutes after Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. kickstarted the Field of Dreams festivities, reprising the ending of the 1989 film by having a catch before players walked out of the cornfield, Lodolo gave up three consecutive run-scoring hits in the top of the first inning of a 4-2 loss.
The game was the centerpiece to the Field of Dreams production, of course, all evening was a nod to the past. It’s what the film was about and why so many people wanted to be a part of the sold-out crowd of 7,823 in rural Iowa.
Reds Hall of Famers Barry Larkin and Johnny Bench were a part of the broadcast’s pregame festivities, walking out of the cornfield with the teams. Bench caught the ceremonial first pitch from Cubs great Fergie Jenkins. In the crowd sat dozens of former Major Leaguers, a U.S. Senator and Hall of Famer broadcaster Marty Brennaman.
Before the first pitch, fans held up placards that read the famous quote from the film: Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.
“Our team, we’ve been through a lot,” Reds Manager David Bell said before the game. “The playoff picture has eluded us. But it’s almost a reward to be able to play as a team in a bigger than normal game in the middle of the season. I’m happier for our players to get to do that and show who we are a little bit more than we have all year.”
The first inning snowballed on the 24-year-old Lodolo when he hit Patrick Wisdom’s foot with a curveball on a 0-2 pitch with two outs. Seiya Suzuki lined an RBI double into center field. Nico Horner followed with an RBI single to left field. Ian Happ capped the three-run rally with an RBI double to center.
Lodolo worked ahead in counts and filled the strike zone, but he allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks in 4⅔ innings while striking out six.
The Reds hit 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
Matt Reynolds, who entered in the fourth inning after Jonathan India left the game with a lower left leg contusion stemming from a hit by pitch in the first inning, ended the home team’s shutout with a two-run double into the right-center gap in the seventh inning.
Reds coaches reminded players before the game to recognize they were playing a Major League game in the middle of a cornfield. Take away the pomp and production and “this is as pure of baseball as you’re going to get,” said assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers, an Iowa native.
There won’t be a Field of Dreams game in 2023 because of construction, according to Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who is the chief operating officer of the field’s ownership group. Multiple players said that added to the night’s significance. Who knows how many Major League players will ever experience this again?
“This is very, very special,” said Joey Votto before the game, who rewatched the 1989 film Wednesday night. “I can’t believe I get to experience it before my career is done, so I’m grateful.”