This was a road trip like no other.
The Yankees finished their series at Kansas City with a win on Wednesday, and instead of heading directly to Chicago to play the White Sox, they stayed in Kansas City one more night before flying to Dubuque, Iowa, on Thursday and taking a bus to the small town of Dyersville to play in the first “Field of Dreams” game, commemorating the 1989 film.
Aaron Judge called the experience “a dream come true” before Thursday’s game.
“It was pretty cool driving in and seeing everybody in town standing on the side of the roads with signs cheering us on as we’re coming,’’ Judge said. “We all kind of felt like [soccer star Lionel] Messi coming into this town. It was a pretty cool experience I know I won’t forget and a lot of guys won’t forget.”
That includes Aaron Boone, who noted how unique it was to be playing a major league game outside of a large city.
“There’s something cool about the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees busing into this place that’s not heavily populated,’’ Boone said. “There’s something majestic about it. Here come the White Sox and Yankees to play this game. To see people outside of their homes with banners. … This feels like something that could and should be a yearly thing for the game.”
Boone wasn’t kidding about Dyersville not being heavily populated. The site of the film has a population of a little more than 4,000.
And before Thursday, there’d never been a major league game played in Iowa.
Both teams were scheduled to fly to Chicago after the game, keeping their visit to the cornfield brief.
The game was originally scheduled for last year, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.
A year later, the impact of the site was clear.
“It’s like an iconic place for a baseball player,’’ DJ LeMahieu said.
Judge said he’d watched the movie “a couple of times,” but some players hadn’t and he intended to show it to them at some point soon.
It was unclear how many players had actually seen the movie or how much it meant to them, since it came out before nearly all of them were born.
One exception was Zack Britton, who was born in 1987 and has seen the film “multiple times.”
“When you’re younger … things stick with you a lot more than when you get old,’’ Britton said. “As a kid, you’re dreaming of playing baseball, and now you’re playing in a cornfield in Iowa.”
And he would like to see the game become an annual tradition for MLB.
“We get so wrapped up in these huge stadiums [we’re] playing in all the time,’’ Britton said. “To mix that up and come here to a place that doesn’t get much baseball, if any at all [and] standing on that field, understanding what that movie means for this town. I hope we’re not the last two teams to play here.”
They faced a White Sox team that was without manager Tony La Russa, who missed the game to attend the funeral of his sister’s husband in Florida. Bench coach — and ex-Yankee — Miguel Cairo served as Chicago’s acting manager.
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