Sox Insider

Hendriks eats up Field of Dreams as Sox take national stage

Sox Insider
USA Today

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — The Field of Dreams might not want to hire Liam Hendriks to write their next marketing campaign.

"It's a unique smell that I didn't quite anticipate," the Chicago White Sox closer said of doing the obligatory walk through the corn.

Recreating the ghostly stroll through Iowa's chief export is a must-do in Dyersville, of course. But Hendriks considered every bit of his experience before the White Sox took on the New York Yankees in baseball's first game in the Hawkeye State to be, well, awesome.

"That's the iconic thing you want to do at an event like this. It's the iconic thing I was looking forward to more than anything," Hendriks said. "And so being able to run through there, get some photos in there has been fantastic.

"I'm sure at some point in the near future, anyone who follows me on Instagram is going to get very, very sick of corn photos."

Hendriks' teammates might get sick of corn, too, as the closer with the humongous personality is planning on taking advantage of his easy access to the crop in the outfield bullpen and throwing it at anyone in range.

 

The White Sox are hoping, of course, that Hendriks is also throwing baseballs Thursday night in Iowa. That means they'll have a late lead. But given how vocally excited Hendriks has been in the lead up to baseball's newest jewel event, Miguel Cairo — assuming managing duties with Tony La Russa attending funeral services in Florida — might call on him regardless of the score.

Hendriks' vocal nature was one of multiple recent national exposures for the White Sox, as he swore his way through the ninth inning of the All-Star Game while wearing a mic. But as he pointed out Thursday, the White Sox have been on national TV plenty of late, with "Sunday Night Baseball" appearances against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. Now, the Field of Dreams game will put the White Sox on display alongside this unique backdrop for a huge audience.

The White Sox, as those who have been paying attention know well, deserve the pub. They've earned it with their play on the field, a first-place club with the biggest division lead in baseball. They're true World Series contenders and only figure to get better over the season's final months now that their once-injured middle-of-the-order stars are coming back and the bullpen has another All-Star closer, Craig Kimbrel, to go along with Hendriks.

The White Sox will almost surely be playing come October, when every game's on a national stage. And given that playoff placement is all but certain, it's good to get baseball fans everywhere accustomed to the new contenders on the block early.

"We've got a shot to continue to show people what our ball club can do," White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said of the Field of Dreams setting. "I think this is going to be one of the biggest stages tonight, there's going to be a lot of people tuned in. It's good exposure."

Anderson's been a face of baseball for a few years now. José Abreu's the reigning MVP. But baseball fans away from the South Side might be getting their first tastes of big personalities like Hendriks, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Lance Lynn.

 

The Field of Dreams game is a good showcase for baseball. It's also a good showcase for one of baseball's best teams, a team that could be making some big noise in the sport for years to come.

But while Hendriks and the White Sox are loving the Iowa experience, they're OK not having all the attention.

Hendriks talked earlier in the season about the attention imbalance between Chicago's two teams. But even though the White Sox are likely due a lot more of it in the coming decade, Hendriks likes the role the White Sox have been playing, too.

"The way we're playing, the way the personalities on this team are going, the more they get distributed nationally. I think it's only going to boost our viewership and the random fans we can get from different states. We've got some personalities on this team," he said. "But we also enjoy being the underdogs, we enjoy being in that situation.

"A lot of the times, it was in relation to Cubs-White Sox, the Cubs did get more attention. But at that point in time, they'd done a lot better over the last decade to earn that. And now it's trending the other way, and we're just trying to embrace it. But we enjoy being the underdog, we enjoy being the little sister, the little brother in the city and making sure we have that chip on our shoulder and proving people wrong at any point in time."

But the amount of attention coming the White Sox' way obviously wasn't the biggest thing on Hendriks' mind as he admitted to "fangirling" over being at the site of one of his favorite movies.

"My camera reel is pretty much full right now," he said. "I took some photos on the porch swing of the house. I actually walked through the house. ... All I'm waiting on is Kevin (Costner), Ray (Liotta) and James Earl (Jones) to come down.

"Sat on the swing, took a photo with that, with the house in the background. Sat on the grandstand with the house in the background. It's those little things that I want to make sure I don't miss. Being able to experience those things has been phenomenal.

 

"I'm fangirling around, running around right now. I'm having a blast at this event, for sure."

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